UA hopes to rebound against SEMO

Arkansas basketball team looks to move to 5-1 with home win over Southeast Missouri State (4-2) Tuesday night at 7:05 p.m.

The University of Arkansas starting basketball lineup will definitely have a change in it for Tuesday night's home game with Southeast Missouri, but just how many new faces crack the starting quintet is still up in the air.

Somebody will be taking the place of injured 6-10, 200-pound freshman forward Vincent Hunter, who dislocated his shoulder in Saturday's 84-61 road loss to Illinois and is likely out until after Christmas.

"I could start Olu Famutimi or Rashard Sullivan or both of them actually," Razorback head coach Stan Heath said. "I think I am going to bring (senior forward) Billy (Pharis) off the bench."

The Razorbacks (4-1) will try to get back on the winning track with a game against the Indians (4-2), who will be coming in off a 80-43 thrashing of the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

"This isn't a game that we can overlook," Heath said. "In the past, we have had problems responding to a loss and sometimes it didn't get cured until two of three days later, two or three games later. We have got to make sure that doesn't happen and it is important that the older guys on the team- the returning guys on the team - make sure the focus is there and our attention to detail is there for this game."

SEMO, picked to finish fourth in the Ohio Valley Conference this season, also has wins over Wisconsin-Green Bay (63-62), Kentucky Christian (83-51) and UC-Santa Barbara (77-75) and losses to Southern Illinois (71-58) and Montana (61-50).

"SEMO is a very dangerous team," Heath said. "They replaced a lot of their players with junior college transfers, guys who have stepped in and contributed right away."

One player who has caught Heath's eye is 6-6, 230-pound junior forward Dainmon Gonner, who is averaging a team-leading 15 points and 6.2 rebounds per game.

"Dainmon Gunner is a tough matchup and that might be a key to the game - how we match up and how we are able to contain a player like him that is 6-6, 6-7 and 230 and plays outside off the dribble, is strong and can play around the basket, shoots threes and does a lot of different things," Heath said.

The Indians also boast a second double-figure scorer in 6-3 junior guard Derek Winans (11.5), but do not have a starter over 6-8.

At his Monday pre-game press conference, Heath had not decided on whether to go with a smaller lineup or a bigger one and then headed out to a closed practice to get an idea.

"We will look at Famutimi quite a bit," Heath said. "He may be a guard on the perimeter on offense, but a post player defensively guarding different players. We will also look at playing Pharis and Sullivan together."

Famutimi had 11 points and 8 rebounds Saturday, but also was just 3-of-11 from the field and had five of his team's season-high 21 turnovers.

"I would like to see him finish more at the rim," Heath said of the 6-5, 210-pound Canadian-born freshman. "He had a couple of perimeter shots that went in and out that I expect him to be able to knock down. He had about three lay-ups he missed and if you count those he would have had about a 16 or 17-point night. We could use that kind of production from him."

Famutimi, a Parade and McDonald's All-American, tore his ACL last February and is still tentative at times, but is coming around according to Heath.

"His aggressiveness (on Saturday) was real nice for us to see," Heath said. "He rebounded the ball very, very well and even when we had to play small he was going in among the bigger guys and coming out of there with the ball...He looked a step quicker."

With Hunter out, Heath will need to get extra inside minutes from 6-9, 220-pound Mike Jones and maybe even 6-5, 225-pound Wenbos Mukubu, who has played sparingly this season.

"We're hopeful that Jones or Mukubu or those type players can step up for us and give us solid minutes when their opportunities come as well."

The Razorbacks' 6-10, 200-pound freshman forward dislocated his shoulder in Saturday's road game against Illinois and is likely out until after Christmas according to UA head coach Stan Heath.

"He won't return until sometime after Christmas right now," Heath said. "There is a possibility he might return before then, but right now we are looking at after Christmas."

Heath watched the replay after the team returned from Illinois.

"He ran into a backscreen and didn't see it coming and as soon as he started to go to his man, he hit it right away," Heath said. "It was just an awkward position where he got hit."

Hunter, averaging 6.6 points and 4.8 rebounds while starting his team's first five games, was scheduled for an MRI on Monday and the extent of the injury will be ascertained from that.

"He is definitely out Tuesday's game, that's for sure," UA trainer Dave England.

Certainly it's a setback, but Heath hopes he can return sooner than later.

"It's disappointing because we saw him coming along," Heath added. "He was gaining more and more confidence and this is going to slow him down a little bit. We are hopeful we will get him back and our medical staff will make sure he will stay healthy throughout the year, but there is no guarantee."

Arkansas is led in scoring by likely starters 6-4 sophomore Jonathon "Pookie" Modica (21.2 points), 6-7 freshman guard Ronnie Brewer (12.6 points , 5.6 rebounds, 5.4 assists and 6-1 sophomore guard Eric Ferguson (9.4 points).

Famutimi, who had 11 points and 8 rebounds on Saturday while suffering through a 3-for-11 shooting day, is averaging 7.8 points and 4.4 rebounds while 6-4 sophomore guard Kendrick Davis (7.4) and Pharis (4.4 ) have also seen significant playing time.

"We came back (from Illinois) and it wasn't a long drawn out meeting," Heath said. "We just talked hey, here's some things we didn't do well - we turned the ball over, we didn't make our free throw and we missed a lot of lay-ups," Heath said. "We just have to do better in those areas. It's that simple."


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