By NOAH TRISTER
AP Sports Writer
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — Jarvis Varnado can’t block shots while he’s sitting on the bench.
He also won’t block them if he’s under the basket and the other team is shooting 3-pointers, and Arkansas made more than enough perimeter shots for a 78-58 win over Varnado and Mississippi State on Wednesday night.
‘‘Shooting covers a multitude of sins — it makes the offensive coordinator look really good,’’ Razorbacks coach John Pelphrey said. ‘‘To have that happen against a team like Mississippi State where you know you’re going to have to make some perimeter shots, you know it’s not always going to be easy around the basket — that’s very important.’’
Sonny Weems scored 22 points and Patrick Beverley added 19 to help Arkansas snap Mississippi State’s nine-game winning streak. The Bulldogs (14-6, 5-1) had been the only Southeastern Conference team without a league loss, but they turned the ball over 22 times against the Razorbacks, leaving coach Rick Stansbury still a win short of 200.
‘‘They were the hottest team in our league, one of the hottest teams in the country,’’ Pelphrey said. ‘‘For us to be able to win tonight, we feel very fortunate.’’
Varnado, the Bulldogs’ intimidating 6-foot-9 center, blocked four shots for a season total of 101. He was not a factor, however, as Arkansas built a big first-half lead. Varnado committed his second foul with 13:50 to play in the half and sat out until the intermission.
Weems made five 3-pointers for the second straight game, including three during a 14-0 run in the first half that put Arkansas (15-5, 4-2) ahead to stay. Weems was actually fouled on his third 3-pointer for a rare four-point play.
‘‘I stay after practice a lot and work on it,’’ Weems said of his perimeter shooting.
The Razorbacks shot only 36 percent from the field but made nine 3-pointers and went 25-of-30 on free throws. They also had 17 offensive rebounds.
Arkansas moved within a game of the lead in the SEC West. Mississippi State hasn’t started 6-0 in league play since the 1960-61 season.
The Bulldogs went scoreless until Varnado’s free throw 4:31 into the game. Jamont Gordon scored Mississippi State’s next 10 points, including a dunk and two 3-pointers, for an 11-7 lead.
That was only a minor setback for the Razorbacks, who led 43-28 at halftime. Beverley scored 14 points in the first half.
‘‘When you have Weems and Beverley both going — I’m asking you all questions now. How many times have Weems and Beverley both been going consistently?’’ Stansbury said at the postgame news conference. ‘‘When they do that, they’re awful good.’’
Mississippi State scored the first eight points of the second half, but the Bulldogs were too careless with the ball to mount a serious rally. Gordon led the team with 24 points, and Charles Rhodes finished with 11 points and 15 rebounds.
Weems’ fifth 3-pointer made it 55-42, and seldom-used senior Vincent Hunter made a long one for a 59-45 advantage. The Razorbacks were playing without forward Charles Thomas, suspended for an unspecified violation of team rules. Hunter played 15 minutes.
‘‘Nobody loves the Razorbacks more, and nobody cares about the guys in the locker room more,’’ Pelphrey said. ‘‘How special a moment it was when that 3-point shot went in — and he shot it from Little Rock.’’
Pelphrey said Thomas’ status would be addressed later.
Beverley had 10 rebounds for Arkansas — he has emerged as the team’s leading rebounder despite his 6-foot-1 frame.
Weems threw down a thunderous two-handed dunk on a fast break, giving Arkansas a 68-52 lead with under five minutes remaining.
Mississippi State allowed its most points since an 84-82 loss to Clemson on Nov. 15.
By NOAH TRISTER