Providence holds off turnover-prone Arkansas in Puerto Rico

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) -- While a win over a ranked team is nice, Providence coach Tim Welsh has other goals for his team's trip to the Puerto Rico Tip-Off.

Brian McKenzie and Geoffrey McDermott combined for 33 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Friars to a 67-51 win over Arkansas in a bruising game Friday night, but Welsh said there's no time to celebrate. The team is gearing up for a big day of practice on Saturday.

"We came here to get better and we have improved," Welsh said. "And we need to practice to keep getting better."

Providence (2-0) will face Miami (3-0) in the tournament championship on Sunday night.

The victory over Arkansas, favored to win the tournament as the only ranked team in the competition, was a massive boost for the Friars, forward Jonathan Kale said.

"This is huge for us. It shows us we can play at a high level," Kale said.

Providence led by 10 points late in the first half, but Arkansas (2-1) closed the gap to 32-28 at halftime.

But the Friars took control of the game in the second half as the Razorbacks, which turned the ball over 26 times Thursday in a sloppy win over College of Charleston, again struggled with miscues.

The Razorbacks had 32 turnovers for the game, compared to Providence's 20. The Friars scored 34 points off turnovers, adding 14 in the paint.

Frustrated first-year coach Arkansas coach John Pelphrey described the loss as being one of the "most unenjoyable games" he has ever had as a coach.

"The consistency level is not there," he said. "It takes all the fun out of the game if you don't have a respect for it, handling the basketball."

He said Arkansas would be doing double-session practices on Saturday to prepare for their consolation match against Virginia Commonwealth on Sunday.

"We will be getting after it like there's no tomorrow," Pelphrey said.

Early in the first half, Pelphrey argued with an official, receiving a technical foul under the NCAA's new bench decorum rule.

After the game, Pelphrey said he received the technical -- his second in the first three games of the season -- for being "too animated," not for stepping out of the box or cursing.

Sophomore guard Patrick Beverley led the Razorbacks with 14 points in the loss. Darian Townes added 11.

Steven Hill's basket tied the game at 19 with 5:47 left in the first half, the fifth and final time Arkansas tied the game. But McDermott picked up an offensive rebound off Kale's miss and gave Providence a lead it would never relinquish with a putback.

Providence never trailed in the game.

The Razorbacks cut the lead to 46-39 with 11:27 left on a basket by Stefan Welsh, but Dwain Williams countered with a 3-pointer to restore Providence's lead to 10.