Although the University of Arkansas basketball team has proved that it can rally from behind to win this season, the Razorbacks are tired of doing so.
That's what the Razorbacks (5-1) will try to do their best to lead from tip-off to buzzer on Wednesday when Louisiana Tech (3-2) for a 7:05 p.m. game at Bud Walton Arena.
"I want to go in at halftime with a lead of 8 to 10 points and not facing that deficit," UA leading scorer Jonathon "Pookie" Modica said. "I know that we can come back if we fall down, but that's getting a little old. We are going to try and do it the easier way this time by getting off to a good start and keeping it going throughout the game."
That's certainly something that Razorback head coach Stan Heath has been stressing as his team goes through workouts during finals.
"We have tried over the exam period to try and continue to make progress," Heath said. "Whether it be patience on offense, being able to sustain our intensity level on offense for a longer period of time - just a lot of fundamental things that needed to be corrected during this time."
Modica thinks that has been accomplished.
"I think we have moved in the right direction these last six or seven days," Modica said. "I think our focus is there, the team concept has continued to get better and I feel like each and every day we have moved forward and that's very positive."
With Louisiana Tech in on Wednesday and Oklahoma State arriving to play in Fayetteville on Saturday at 4 p.m., Modica knows there is no way his team can't be focused for 40 minutes and come out with wins.
"We are playing against some quality teams this week," Modica said. "We can't dare even think we can fall behind and pull it off again. You can't depend on that although it is great to know that we can."
The Razorbacks have not just spent time on the court in an effort to get better.
"I think our guys are seeing through film work and through repetition some areas that we have really got to straighten out as this competition level continues to get stiffer," Heath said.
Louisiana Tech comes into Wednesday's contest off back-to-back wins over the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
The Bulldogs first whipped the Lions 71-59 before just 815 fans in Pine Bluff and then turned around a week later and routed them 82-47 before a crowd of 1,611 at home in Ruston on Saturday.
Lousiana Tech also boasts a 77-63 win over Jackson State that was sandwiched between a season-opening 69-63 loss at Alabama and a 75-72 loss at Northern Iowa.
"We are not going to take Louisiana Tech for granted at all," Heath said. "This is a very good team and their transition game and their defensive pressure is as good as anybody we have faced in this early season.
"It is a team that has quite a few guys back from last year along with some newcomers that are very good basketball players," Heath added.
Heath lauded 6-7 freshman forward Paul Millsap, who had 18 points and 13 rebounds in the second UAPB game and who is averaging 12 points per game while shooting 75 percent from the floor.
"A freshman that was a top 50 player (nationally)," Heath said. "... He is a guy that rebound, score inside and really run the floor. He is going to be a guy that we have to give some attention to."
Donnell Alllick (14.2) and Corey Dean (14.0) haven been the Bulldogs' leading scorers so far.
Arkansas will likely still be without 6-10 freshman forward Vincent Hunter (6.2, 4.8), a player that is nursing an injured shoulder and is "doubtful" for for Wednesday. He was initially not expected back until after Christmas.
"It's too early to tell right now," Heath said. "We are at the doubtful stage. We really aren't expecting him at all in this game on Wednesday. There is an outside chance he will be around on Saturday but right now each day that goes by he is working out, but not doing anything that requires any contact or any physical play. His status is probably going to remain the same."
With Hunter out of the starting lineup, it appears Heath will once again start four guards.
That quintet would include sophomore Modica (21.0, 4.0), 6-7 freshman guard Ronnie Brewer (12.8, 5.3), 6-1 guard Eric Ferguson (10.8), 6-5 swingman Olu Famutimi (8.5) and 6-8 forward Billy Pharis (5.3, 3.7).
Pharis started the first five games, but came off the bench to score a Razorback-best 10 points in a 78-68 win over Southeast Missouri.
Heath is hoping his team can overcome its youth as the season goes along.
"When you have young guys that are playing key positions that is not a great recipe for consistency," Heath said. "That is what we are trying to change into - being a consistent team that can play at a higher level of intensity for longer period of times. "
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