Another Big Contribution Off The Bench

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas junior guard Eric Ferguson doesn't mind being benched. He's even asked not to start before.

Strange, but true. Say, what?

Go figure.

"Really, I don't mind," Ferguson said. "I kind of like it."

So it came as no surprise Ferguson wasn't in the starting lineup again Tuesday night when Arkansas played Tulsa.

And it came as no surprise Ferguson jump-started the Razorbacks on their way to an 85-73 win against the Golden Hurricane in front of 16,603 vocal fans in Bud Walton Arena.

"I had a chance to start at times this year but I told (Arkansas) coach (Stan) Heath since I've been doing good off the bench, I'd like to keep doing the same thing," Ferguson said. "I think it's worked out fine."

Ferguson came into Tuesday's game leading Arkansas in scoring (15.8 points per game), assists (3.8) and steals (2.3), and he was second in rebounds (4.3).

Mathematically, Ferguson didn't duplicate those numbers but his arithmetic was more than good enough.

Ferguson played 25 minutes, scored 11 points -- all in the first half -- had 3 assists and 2 steals.

His teammates appreciated the effort.

"He can do a lot of things off the bench," said sophomore guard Olu Famutimi. "He can shoot it and score it anytime he gets the ball. He can lock down on defense, too.

"He brings a big spark to the team."

Razorbacks swingman Ronnie Brewer nodded.

"Ferguson is the sparkplug for us," Brewer said. "He supplies a lot of pressure with his defense and he can be instant offense. That's what he did tonight, scoring right away. "I think that's been a plus for us this season.''

Ferguson even got props from Tulsa, too. Golden Hurricane guard Jarius Glenn, who led all scorers with 30 points, gave Ferguson praise.

"He's one of those guys you have to have on every team, because he's been through all the wars before," Glenn said. "He knows his role. He doesn't have an ego. He came up off the bench and got some big points and loosened us up on defense.

"He played big against us."

That's the way Ferguson planned it.

"This was a big game for us," Ferguson said. "It was probably our toughest test so far this season. I wanted to be part of helping my team win.

"I've been working hard so far just trying to get better and if better means coming off the bench, we're going to stick with the same routine. I kind of like starting on the bench because I can see what is going on before I get into the game. That kind of gives me a feel for the game. It doesn't bother me not to start.

"It doesn't matter at all."

Doesn't matter to Heath, either.

But ...

"This isn't going to sound right but I'm believing it. With he and (freshman guard) Dontell (Jefferson) coming off the bench we're getting better," Heath said. "Their teammates get a lift and Eric was a big a part of that. He got on fire."

"He's just a sparkplug."

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