Close No Consolation for Hogs

Pookie Modica was not in a good mood after Arkansas lost yet another close game, this time against No. 6 Mississippi State. Here's a look inside the Hog locker room.

Jonathon "Pookie" Modica scored 33 points to give Arkansas hope of upsetting No. 6 Mississippi State, but wanted nothing of any "nice game" compliments from writers in the Razorback locker room.

"I'm all about winning, and this ain't it," Modica said after the Hogs fell short, 77-70, against the Bulldogs Saturday night.

"Winning takes everyone up town. Losing games like this is getting old. Getting close ain't it."

Forward Matt Jones said about the same thing.

"You guys are asking us if this builds confidence, and I'm here to tell you that winning builds confidence," Jones said. "We need to win some games like this. Getting close doesn't help you.

"I know one thing that will help us do that is to quit giving teams a big lead at the start. We didn't stay close enough in the first few minutes. They were lights out shooting threes, but some of that was our defense. We gave them too much room. We were too conscious of their inside guys."

Modica said the Hogs knew that both Winsome Frazier (23 points) and Timmy Bowers (10) had the outside range to hurt the Hogs' zone defense, but were still surprised at their spurt at the outset.

"They hit 5 of their first 6, I think," Modica said. "They were firing from deep. Some of them we had a hand up and some we didn't. But they caught us a bit off guard. I guess we spent most of the last two days talking about ways to keep the ball out of Lawrence Roberts' hands inside."

The Hogs are 3-8 in the SEC and now must go to Kentucky. That might seem like a tall order, but neither their coach nor the players seemed in awe of the Wildcats as they discussed that trip Saturday night.

"Kentucky is good and all of that, but I don't think we should be scared," Modica said. "They are very beatable. We have to just keep playing hard."

Arkansas coach Stan Heath was glad to hear those words.

"I think that is right," he said. "We know all about how tough Kentucky can be and what they've done through the years, but our players shouldn't be looking at the jerseys but the players inside the jerseys. They should focus on that and we'll be fine. I like the attitudes of our players right now.

"We are getting great effort from these guys right now. I'm proud of them. They don't like losing and they aren't saying it's good to play these teams close. They want to win. They are looking at it the right way."

Modica was proud of the way his teammates fought againt the Bulldogs.

"Mississippi State tried to bully us in the second half and our guys didn't back down and they didn't quit," Modica said. "They are very good, but we weren't going to lie down and we hit some big-time shots against them to get back in the game and make it a game we could have won.

"Myself, I tried to attack tonight. I stayed up late last night thinking about how I would play tonight. I think I got back into the attack mode and that was the change for me in this game. My teammates did a nice job of getting me the ball and setting screens and I tried to take it to (MSU)."

Jones said Modica "carried our team tonight," but the 6-7 forward thought he let his teammates down with his ineffective offense.

"Jonathon was great, but I missed too many easy shots in the first half when (MSU) was getting away from us," Jones said. "I had some good looks and I didn't finish. That really hurt our team tonight. Jonathon got us going and we did come back."

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