Hill Scores Career-High 10 Points

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas coach Stan Heath finally got what he had been clamoring for all season on Saturday afternoon.

The Razorbacks tossed the ball inside to 7-foot, 233-pound freshman center Steven Hill.

And, more important, the Branson, Mo., native didn't hesitate to shoot it.

Hill turned in the best offensive performance of his young Arkansas career during the Hogs' easy 102-50 win against Prairie View A&M in Bud Walton Arena. The offensively timid Hill was one of five players in double figures after recording career-highs of 10 points and 11 attempts against the undersized Panthers.

Hill tipped in two missed shots in the first half, converted a reverse layup and got off a few left-handed hook attempts after the break. He finished 5 of 11 from the field, but the Hogs weren't necessarily concerned with his makes or misses Saturday.

"We really need games like this where we have players like Steven Hill, who had one touch in the last game, we throw the ball into him and now he's aggressive," Heath said. "He has the experience of having success. He needs that.

"I thought Steven had a very good game for us."

Hill added 6 rebounds and 5 blocked shots against the Panthers (0-8).

But Arkansas' primary goal during the current six-game stretch, in which the Hogs are heavy favorites, is to help players like Hill, center Darian Townes and guard Jonathan Modica find much-needed confidence. The Razorbacks (8-1) got what they were looking for after all three reached double figures (Townes had 16, Modica scored 10) Saturday.

Hill felt good after the win and hopes it's the type of performance that'll be helpful when Southeastern Conference play begins against Ole Miss on Jan. 5.

"They were a smaller team so coach wanted me to take a few more shots and be aggressive so I tried to do that," Hill said. "It's hard for me because I don't have a lot of confidence on offense. When I miss a few shots I kind of get down.

"But with these nonconference games they want me to keep being aggressive and take more and more shots to try to get more confidence."

Hill entered Saturday's game averaging 2.8 points and had taken just 18 shots in his first eight outings. He scored 9 points and made 4 of 5 shots during the 85-73 win against Tulsa on Nov. 30. But Hill missed his only attempt during last Thursday's 96-68 win against Tennessee State.

Hill felt comfortable with his left-handed hook shot even though it didn't fall as often as he'd like Saturday. He said the coaching staff also asked him to work on his positioning in the post and a few power moves to the basket.

"It really helps you know what you're good at and helps you solidify a few moves," Hill said. "I tried to do that. You can work on a few things that you're not that good at too. I tried to do that."

Hill has impressed Heath with his defensive abilities, recording a Southeastern Conference-high 32 blocked shots after eight games.

Now the Hogs are hoping he can continue to build on Saturday's performance and shoot the ball with confidence when the SEC season tips off next month.

"I think it's very important that the (post players) do that for us," said guard Ronnie Brewer, who equaled Townes with a game-high 16 points. "If his shot is falling, he's going to keep on shooting. If you go to the next game, you're going to keep on doing that. You're going to play with a lot of confidence and you're going to do stuff you haven't been doing before.

"Hopefully he can keep on playing with confidence."

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