Hogs Run Away From Abilene Christian In 2nd Half

FAYETTEVILLE -- Matthias Krieg thought he had an opening.

Arkansas junior forward Rashard Sullivan gambled for a steal and missed, leaving the Abilene Christian forward alone under the hoop.

Krieg went up for a soft lay-in, but Sullivan was already back in his face and swatted the ball 40 feet in the other direction.

Arkansas gave Abilene Christian a chance Friday night in its final exhibition game, but like Sullivan, the Razorbacks slapped the Wildcats away in the second half and won going away, 90-56.

"I think they'll win a lot of games," said Abilene Christian coach Klint Pleasant, who was an assistant to Arkansas coach Stan Heath on the 2002 Kent State team that made the Elite Eight.

"They have a lot of weapons, they're deep. They're going to be hard to beat, even in the (Southeastern Conference)."

Abilene Christian was the team who was hard to beat in the first half.

The Razorbacks allowed Abilene Christian to hang around and trailed 20-13 with less than 12 minutes to play before intermission, muting a late-arriving crowd that looked larger than the announced 7,503 by the second half.

Freshmen centers Steven Hill and Darian Townes each picked up two quick fouls and sophomore Olu Famutimi, who led Arkansas with 17 points last Saturday, also was whistled for two fouls within a minute and took a seat with Arkansas trailing 22-21.

Heath has said all along the strength of this team would be its depth and he was proven right after he had to sit Hill, Townes and Famutimi for most of the first half.

Freshman forward Charles Thomas and Sullivan manned the post positions and keyed a 13-2 run to take a 30-24 lead the Razorbacks would never relinquish.

Thomas scored 9 of his 11 points in the first half and Sullivan grabbed 4 rebounds, blocked 2 shots -- including Krieg's -- and made a pair of nice assists, one to Thomas from the high post and another off an offensive rebound for a 3-pointer by Jonathon Modica.

"I'm just there to help," said Sullivan, who finished with 6 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists and a game-high 3 blocked shots. "Whenever they need help, I'm going to be there."

The Wildcats hit 7 of 10 3-pointers in the first half and led 20-15 even though they'd made one less field goal than the Razorbacks, who didn't help themselves by missing eight free throws (6 of 14) and earning just one more rebound than ACU, 17-16.

Arkansas turned those stats around in the second half by holding ACU to 0 of 6 from outside and outrebounding the Wildcats 26-11.

The Razorbacks also hit 8 of 11 free throws in the second half.

"I thought it was a good test for us, especially in the first half," Heath said. "They made a lot of shots. Some of that was our lapses, some of that was them making some tough shots. We didn't defend the three very well in the first half, we didn't rebound the ball very well and we didn't shoot free throws.

"I credit the players for following through on what we talked about."

Arkansas held a 43-36 halftime lead and the Wildcats were still lurking at 49-47 when Dontell Jefferson hit two 3-pointers and Ronnie Brewer took a steal and dunk to the rim to give the Razorbacks their first double-digit lead, 59-47.

Modica led all scorers with 20 points on 7 of 12 shooting a week after taking just four shots and dishing out a team-high 6 assists in Arkansas' first exhibition win against Texas A&M Commerce.

Brewer had 14 points, 6 rebounds, 4 steals and 4 dunks off the fast break, but missed all six of his free throw attempts.

"I'm confident he can get the job done," Heath said of Brewer's struggles at the line. "He started off slow last year. He will work at it. It's a little thing he has to correct to get a better rhythm on his shot."

The Razorbacks scored 35 points off 25 ACU turnovers, but negated some of their own takeaways with 19 turnovers split evenly between the first and second halves.

"We did take them serious, but at times we took one play serious and the next play we'd take relaxed," Famutimi said. "In the second half we took every play serious until the game was over."

Eric Ferguson had a game-high 8 assists and 4 turnovers as the Razorbacks failed to capitalize on a few fast break opportunities with sloppy or too creative passing.

Heath said coming into the game he'd like to get more from the fullcourt press, but the Razorbacks only collected four turnovers before midcourt.

The press may not have forced as many steals against the Wildcats as Heath would have liked, but he believed it served the purpose of tiring the opposition.

"I think as we continue to play it, we'll get more results," Heath said. "But what I like about it is, it wears you down. In the second half, it has a chance to get to you."

Hill, who was whistled for two offensive fouls in his first 18 seconds last week, got called for two in his first minute against Abilene Christian.

Hill played just 9 minutes and was 0 of 1 shooting against A&M Commerce, but he battled through the foul trouble to play 17 minutes and score 9 points on 3 of 7 shooting, including a nice jump hook and a thunderous dunk off an assist from Modica.

"The coaches stayed on me, kept being positive with me," said Hill, who picked up his fourth foul with five minutes to go and stayed on the floor until the final buzzer. "I just tried not to get down on myself. Playing without fouling was probably my biggest accomplishment."

Brewer said after two tune-ups the Razorbacks are prepared to open their season this Friday against Winthrop at the Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands.

"We still have to improve on some things," he said, "but overall, we're ready for our first game."

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