It turns out that the University of Arkansas scoreboard does still go up to at least 90 points on the home side after all.
UA junior Jonathon "Pookie" Modica poured in 20 points to lead four Razorbacks in double figures and Arkansas closed with a 41-9 run to pound a game Division II Abilene Christian squad 90-56 Friday night in exhibition baskeetball action before 7,503 fans at Bud Arena.
Sophomores Ronnie Brewer and Olu Famutimi added 14 points and 6 rebounds each and freshman Charles Thomas 11 points and 5 rebounds in what was the final tune-up before Arkansas opens it season next Friday against Winthrop at the Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands.
"Basketball's fun again," Famutimi said. "We've got a lot of players who can do a lot of things, that can score some points and we are just going to keep getting better and working harder all year. We turned it on tonight after they challenged. It was a good night, a good workout for us and now we're ready to do this for real."
Arkansas scored 90 or more points just once last season, a 96-61 win over North Texas, and did not touch that mark at all in Heath's first season at the school in 2002-2003.
"Hey, you love to see that, but it's all about the Ws, " said Arkansas head coach Stan Heath, whose team opened its two-game exhibition season with a 72-47 win over Texas A&M-Commerce last Saturday. "That's the fun part no matter what you score."
Dionte Gill scored 13 to lead Abilene Christian, coached by former Heath and Kent State assistant Klint Pleasant.
The visitors led the Razorbacks by seven in the opening half and stayed close by knocking down 7-of-10 3-pointers before intermission. But then they missed all six attempts 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 it was our lapses, some of that was simply them making some tough shots. We didn't defend the three very well in the first, we didn't rebound very well, we didn't shoot free throws but I think two out of those three really got corrected in the second half and I credit the players for following through what we talked about.
"In the second half they didn't make a three, Heath added. "In the second half we were plus 15 on the glass. We still got to get to the free throw line and do better and I think we will. We also established a little bit of an inside game.
Arkansas, which trailed 18-11 at one point, led 43-36 at halftime and then found itself in a battle when Abilene Christian pulled within 49-47 on Mauro Matai's lay-up with 14:29 left in the game.
Junior college transfer Dontell Jefferson (nine points) then knocked one of his trio of 3-pointers, Famutimi an 18-footer, Jefferson canned another bomb and then Brewer raced in for a dunk and a 59-47 lead with 11:49 left.
That 10-0 spree in just over two minutes blew open the game and the rout was on.
"I just look at our team and think we have good depth and it really helps us," Heath said. "We are going to be geared a little more to being a second half team than a first-half team. We will wear people down. That certainly was a factor in this game tonight."
Steven Hill, Arkansas 7-foot freshman center, scored all nine of his points in the second half after picking up two early fouls.
"He was very aggressive and that was a good sign," Heath said. "I think it really helped his confidence. "
Junior power forward Rashard Sullivan (6 points, 6 rebounds, 3 blocks, 3 assists) and Eric Ferguson (a game-high 8 assists) also put up some good numbers.
"That is the Rashard we have seen in practice and the one that can really help us." Heath said.
Thomas, who has shined in practice lately, also played well in 18 minutes on the court.
"He was pretty physical and got good position, drew some fouls and finished some plays around the rim," Heath said. "He also drew some charges and had good energy around the rim."
Arkansas shot 54 percent from the field in the game, knocked down 8-of-18 3-pointers and shot 56 percent from the free throw line. However, Brewer's 0-of-6 was the only bad number from the line among the players.
"I am confident he can get the job done," Heath said. "He started off kind of the same way last year and then the second half of the season he actually shot high 60s and early 70s. Ronnie will work at it and I think with him it's just a little thing that he's got to correct where he has better rhythm."
Arkansas will play Winthrop to open the tournament on Friday, take a day off and then play Troy on Sunday. The championship of the six-team event, which has two three-team pools, will be on Monday night.
"Now it's time to hitch it up and get with it for real," Heath said. "I'm looking forward to it."
Arkansas 90, Abilene Christian 56
Hawgs Daily Top Stories
Scout On the Road: SeptemberScout takes a look at some of the top prospects we saw in person during the month of September...
Scout FootballYesterday at 2:00 PM
Longhorns Preview Oklahoma StateTexas offensive players discuss the Longhorns' upcoming game at Oklahoma State to kickoff Big 12 Conference play.
Horns DigestMonday at 6:21 PM
Louisiana CB 'Real Close' to a DecisionIt may not be too long before one of the top cornerbacks in Louisiana makes his decision. Four schools are high on his list and you can get the latest here...
Scout FootballMonday at 6:15 AM
JC defensive back talks ISU official visitOver the weekend, Iowa State played host to one of their top 2017 targets in the current recruiting cycle in Paramount, CA three-star JUCO CB Keisean Nixon. This visit for the…
AllCyclonesSunday at 6:34 PM