Ronnie Brewer got the Hogs to a fast start with a layup and two assists as they scored the game's first six points. The Hogs' 14-point halftime lead was their biggest of the first half. They got it for the first time at 36-22 on a 6-0 run with Olu Famutimi nailing four foul shots.
The Hogs held for the final shot of the half, with Brewer working one-on-one from the top of the key to nail a 15-footer with four seconds left to set the intermission score at 41-27.
The Hogs were solid on defense from start to finish. The visitors got few open looks at the basket. Arkansas shot 57 percent while allowing just 37 percent by the Colonels.
The game was over quickly in the second half. Modica hit a layup on a fast break and a three pointer in the first minute. Modica fed Brewer for a layup as the Hogs sprinted to a 56-29 lead at the 14:40 mark of the second half.
The lead swelled to 70-38 at the 9:31 mark when Stan Heath pulled his two big guns, Modica and Brewer. That was the chance the Colonels had been waiting for and they made a run.
Nicholls went on a 15-0 spurt to cut the deficit to 70-53 at the 6:26 mark. That was also when Heath got a technical foul to spark the Bud Walton Arena crowd. The Hogs, with Brewer finding Modica while sitting on the floor, got a slam dunk at the 5:32 mark to start a 8-0 run to make it 78-53 at 3:36.
The Hogs scored the final eight points of the game to close things out in style. Wen Mukubu got a three-point play with 11 seconds to play to set the final score.
Modica nailed 11 of 16 from the field, scoring from long range and taking smaller defenders to the hoop. He was 2 of 3 on treys.
Brewer was 8 of 12 from the field. He added 7 rebounds to lead the Hogs in that category and added 8 assists. He had only two turnovers in his 31 minutes, the most by any Hog.
Arkansas outrebounded Nicholls, 31-29, and committed 16 turnovers while forcing 23. Eric Ferguson led the Hogs with four steals while adding 12 points. Kendrick Davis, who took Ferguson's spot in the starting lineup, added 11 points.
Heath said the Hogs played well, but he isn't sure "exactly where we are right now. We won't know that for awhile. I'm happy. We made some progress on defense. It wasn't perfect, but it was better. Nicholls runs a Princeton style with a lot of back-door cuts and we handled that pretty well."
Modica said the Hogs expected to win comfortably. Hence, nothing gained, nothing lost.
"They are a low D-1 team and we are supposed to beat them like that, so we did what we expected," Modica said. "Coach wanted us to win with style and I think we did that. But we still have to improve."
Heath said the key was the solid start to open the second half.
"We talked about how we let things slip to start the second half in one of the exhibitions and I liked the way we came out of the locker room for the second half tonight," Heath said. "So maybe we grew a little tonight.
"Modica was on fire. He was scoring outside and inside and taking it to the basket. He got it going tonight. Brewer had a great game. He shot it, he passed it and he handled it. He really set his teammates up tonight. I liked what Vincent Hunter did and Ferguson did a nice job coming off the bench with a great attitude."
Arkansas 89, Nicholls State 60 (Final)
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