"He's back," said Arkansas coach Stan Heath. "He's got confidence and he's playing with a little swagger. Sometimes, you have to take a step back to take a step forward and I think that's what we're seeing in him."
The junior from Smackover scored a season-high 16 points with three rebounds and an assist. He was 6 of 9 from the floor, including 3 of 4 from 3-point range.
"(Modica) was just really feeling it," said Hogs freshman Charles Thomas. "I could really tell he was coming on the last few games because his confidence level has just gotten higher and higher."
Admittedly, Modica said he lost sleep and wasn't much fun to be around during his scoring slump, which included a combined 25 minutes in games against Illinois and Missouri when he had more turnovers (6) than points (5). Last season, Modica was an all-Southeastern Conference performer and the team's leading scorer.
"It never stopped being fun, but it was very frustrating at times," Modica said. "It stayed in my mind a lot and it hurt a lot, but I'm sleeping better now and smiling more now. I'm bringing more positive energy around the club and everything is more positive now, so I just hope it continues to go that way.
"I may have slip-ups here and there, but maybe now from this experience, I can bounce back quicker."
For the third game in a row, Modica's first bucket was a 3-pointer and he said hitting his first shot from long range has went a long way to improving his confidence during the stretch.
"I'm glad to see that happen again because I've been known as a shooter," Modica said. "It was so frustrating not seeing that ball go through that net from long range anymore, so I give a lot of credit to the coaching staff, especially (assistant) coach (Oronde) Taliaferro because he's helped me as far as shooting extra after practice and helping me get a relationship with my shot again."
One of Modica's most impressive highlights Monday was when he caught alley-oop pass from Ronnie Brewer and dunked it with 10 minutes remaining in regulation.
"He was being more aggressive and got his shot going," Brewer said. "We need him to play like that for us if we're going to go very far in the (Southeastern Conference)."
While Modica may not put up as many points as he did a year ago when he scored in double figures 22 times and averaged 16.5 per game, his teammates said he still makes an impact because of his hustle and athleticism.
Modica owns the all-time Arkansas basketball record by squatting 480 pounds. He also has a team-best 325-pound bench press and his 37.5-inch vertical leap ranks second all-time behind former Razorback Brandon Dean's 39-inch vertical.
"He's a factor even when he isn't scoring," Brewer said. "Even when he was struggling, he still contributed with rebounding, playing defense and just his presence out there with the energy he brings to the floor."
And that's all Modica can ask for.
"As a player, the only thing you can ask for is to be a contributor," Modica said. "That's all I want to be and just whatever I can do to get minutes and to keep myself out there, I'm going to do it to do my part in helping keep the team going the way we've been going."s
Modica Snaps Scoring Slump
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