Dress Rehearsal Over For Arkansas

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas finished its dress rehearsal for the REAL season on Friday with rave reviews.

Two thumbs up. Way up.

Arkansas blistered Louisiana-Monroe 85-43 Friday night in Bud Walton Arena in front of 14,205 ready-to-party fans on a successful end to 2004.

Razorbacks fans were getting piggy with it and were ready to party hardy on a delightful New Year's Eve.

After the curtain fell on the nonconference schedule, the Razorbacks immediately started to prepare for Southeastern Conference season.

"I think we're ready," said Razorbacks junior guard Eric Ferguson. "I think we showed that tonight."

Think so?

A combination of an industrial strength defense and a very efficient offense was essentially the difference for the Razorbacks.

Arkansas had only 13 turnovers -- and only 2 in the first half -- and forced 30 out of ULM. In addition, the Hogs dished out 24 assists compared to 10 for the Indians.

That Razorbacks defense made the basket harder to find than a pay phone in an airport for the Indians.

Razorbacks sophomore point guard Ronnie Brewer had seven steals by himself.

"We had a great defense," said Razorbacks junior guard Jonathon Modica said. "We really played together. We made good switches, stayed in the lanes at the right times.

"We just got into position to blow this thing out tonight. That's what we did."

It started with taking care of the basketball.

Right, Jonathon?

"Yeah, we just came out and tried to play smart basketball," Modica said. "We knew if we played hard and took care of the ball we had a good chance of winning by 25 or 30 points.

"It feels real good, I'm happy about that. That's a pretty good start and pretty good way to go into conference play.

"We wanted to win all of them but if you can come out and finish 12-1 in your nonconference schedule, that's satisfying. That's a great way to finish your nonconference schedule.

"We'll take it."

Again, it all started with taking care of the ball.

"We just wanted to take care of the ball," Brewer said. "We were just moving it around and keeping control of it. We were making a lot of good decisions.

"As point guards, we have a lot of responsibility to take care of the ball. I think me, Ferguson and Dontell Jefferson did that tonight."

And played defense mighty well, too.

"Basically, on our pressure we aren't really to always get turnovers, but also milk away the clock," Ferguson said. "If you play good defense, you'll get turnovers and that usually helps lead to points. If mistakes come, they come but we have to try and work through it. Tonight we didn't make too many mistakes."

Razorbacks sophomore guard/forward Olu Famutimi agreed.

"That makes you feel good," Famutimi said. "Not making mistakes is what it's all about. We want the other team to make the mistakes.

"We want to take advantage of them when they do. We did that tonight and I think that's what you'll see the rest of the year.

"We have all our nonconference games out of the way now so we need to focus on protecting the basketball because it's tougher in the SEC.

"We're ready."

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