True Freshman Sparks Inside Game For Hogs

FAYETTEVILLE -- <!--Default NodeId For Arkansas is 568,2004--><A HREF=>Arkansas</A> freshman <!--Default NodeId For Charles Thomas is 1615208,2004--><A HREF=[PlayerNode:1615208]>Charles Thomas</A> giggled and grinned while clowning around with teammate <!--Default NodeId For Rashard Sullivan is 1615206,2004--><A HREF=[PlayerNode:1615206]>Rashard Sullivan</A> in the locker room.

Yeah, it was a lot of fun.

As much fun as beating Abilene Christian 90-56 in the final exhibition game in Bud Walton Arena on Friday night in front of 7,503.

It was the final dress rehearsal for the regular-season opener next week in the Paradise Jam in St. Thomas, the Virgin Islands.

Both Thomas and Sullivan played a major role in the outcome, Thomas perhaps being the most noticeable only because the 6-foot-7, 243 pounder from Jackson, Miss., forced folks to watch.

"A lot of people had to notice him," said Razorbacks sophomore guard Ronnie Brewer. "Who could miss him, especially in the first half?" Thomas finished with 11 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals.

Not bad for a true freshman.

"Oh, he's going to get better," Sullivan said. "He's just getting started.

"He did a good job out there concentrating on what he was supposed to do and just did it. I think we made for a good high-low combination tonight and I think fans will see more of that in the future.

"I think, more than anything, he was having fun out there tonight and not really worried about a lot of things." Thomas nodded.

"I think anytime you can go out there and separate yourself from another team like we did, it has to be fun," Thomas said. "I knew if I messed up, I had a lot of support. This was not an easy team to beat." However, it made it easier because of the inside game Arkansas brought to the table.

"I thought all of our inside guys played well and Charles played really well tonight," Brewer said. "He certainly didn't play like a freshman, didn't look like a freshman.

"He hustled all the time he was out there and never quit playing. That's what we need from everyone. He had exactly what we need to have tonight."

Thomas said he tried.

"I felt good out there tonight," Thomas said. "(Arkansas) Coach (Stan Heath) wanted someone to come off the bench and spark the offense and play hard defensively. I felt I did both of those things while I was in the game."

Thomas was in the game for 18 minutes, including 12 in the first half when he did the most offensive damage.

He gave Razorbacks fans a slight scare when, with 16 minutes, 48 seconds left in the game, he limped off the court with what appeared to be a twisted left ankle.

"It was really nothing," Thomas said. "I know it looked worse than it really was. It didn't hurt. All I did basically is get a cramp in my shin." Thomas returned with 12:17 left and Arkansas leading 54-47. Less than a minute later, he took a charge from Abilene Christian forward Hakim Rasul.

"That's the kind of stuff we needed," Brewer said. "That's the kind of night Charles Thomas had."

Heath couldn't agree more.

"Charles Thomas came up big in the first half," said Arkansas coach Stan Heath. "He was pretty physical out there, altered some shots and took some charges.

"He showed good energy."

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