Not Exactly Homecoming For Hill

COLUMBIA, Mo. -- The line "Hill Returns Home" in the Arkansas basketball notes released by the athletic department was somewhat deceiving before Tuesday's 62-52 Razorbacks' win against Missouri.

Arkansas center Steven Hill, a 7-foot, 233-pound true freshman, was born in Chanute, Kan, but attended high school in Branson Mo., making him a Missouri native. But, Branson actually is closer to Fayetteville (two-hour drive) than it is to Columbia (four-hour drive).

Hill was recruited by the Tigers and even made an official visit to Columbia and to Kansas before verbally committing to Arkansas during the spring of his junior year.

"This doesn't really feel like home to me," Hill said. "I love Missouri when they recruited me and it was a really tough choice. I'm more than happy I chose Arkansas and very excited to come here and get the win."

Hill, who leads the Southeastern Conference with 3.57 blocked shots per game, had 4 blocks, 2 rebounds and 2 points in his "return home" on Tuesday. He has four or more blocked shots in five games and had a career-high six blocks in a 72-60 loss against then-No. 5 Illinois in North Little Rock's Alltel Arena on Saturday.

It was the most by an Arkansas player since Nick Davis blocked seven shots against Mississippi State in 1998.

Hill's two biggest plays Tuesday came in the second half. He blocked Kalen Grimes' layup attempt by pinning it against the backboard with 16 minutes, 13 seconds remaining in regulation and the Razorbacks leading 33-30.

He also picked up a steal in the backcourt which led to a layup by Ronnie Brewer and gave the Hogs a 38-33 advantage with just over 10 minutes remaining.

"Everybody at Arkansas is just top-notch people so I have no regrets that I didn't come (to Missouri)," Hill said. "I'm definitely more than happy I chose Arkansas and very excited to come here and get the win ... in my home (with a laugh)."

Other ties between the two teams are Arkansas' Ronnie Brewer and Missouri's Thomas Gardner, who became friends during AAU basketball, and Tigers point guard Jason Horton, a freshman the Hogs recruited heavily out of Cedar Hill, Texas, two summers ago. Hogs coach Stan Heath and his staff also took a long look at Grimes, a freshman center from St. Louis, during the recruiting process.

Famutimi Hobbled?
Hogs sophomore Olu Famutimi limped off the floor in the first minute of the second half. He twisted his right ankle -- he had surgery on his right knee before his freshman season -- when he was stepped on while planting his foot to try to prevent himself from falling out of bounds.

"Their big man stepped on my ankle," Famutimi said. "But it's just a little minor deal, that's all."

Famutimi did return and UA trainer Dave England also said it was nothing too serious. He missed one game last season (Dec. 30 against Tulsa) while resting a sore knee and did not play the last half of his senior season in high school after initially injuring his right knee.

Charity For Brewer
Brewer, who hit just 1 of 7 free throw attempts against Illinois, was 6 of 6 from the foul line in Tuesday's win.

"That's Ronnie," Heath said. "He made some adjustments and went up there with confidence and a relaxed, calm mindset and he made it himself. He did it himself so I'm really proud of him."

New Digs
Missouri is playing this season in its new, $75 million state-of-the-art "Mizzou Arena." It seats 15,061, but hasn't sold out yet and Tuesday's attendance was a late-arriving 10,086.

The facility includes 26 luxury suites, a training room, expanded locker room complete with a film room and player lounge, a practice gym and the Missouri Athletics Hall of Fame.

By comparison, Arkansas' Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville cost $30 million when it opened in 1993 and seats 19,200.

Bank On It
Missouri's Marshall Brown received one of those awkward mixes of cheers and jeers from the crowd when he banked in a three from the top of the key. He didn't even call "bank," but the bucket gave the Tigers a 23-22 lead with 2:45 remaining in the first half.

Sorry Charlie
Hogs true freshman Charles Thomas has scored seven or more points in all six games this season. He had a career-high 16 points in a 85-73 win against Tulsa in Fayetteville a week ago.

Thomas appeared frustrated when he came off the floor with just over two minutes remaining in the first half. He made his only field goal attempt, giving him just two points as he went to the bench shaking his head.

For the game, Thomas had 6 points -- hitting 3 of 5 shots from the field -- and 4 rebounds in 24 minutes.

Eric Ferguson's second half 3-pointer from the top of the key extended Arkansas' streak of hitting at least one trey to 522 consecutive games. It also gave the Hogs a 50-44 lead with just 3:37 remaining.

"That was the one when he shot it and I was like, No, No, No ... Oh good shot, it was a great time to hit it," Heath said.

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