McGowan Shows Another Side To His Game

FAYETTEVILLE -- University of Arkansas basketball signee Cyrus McGowan is known far more for his defense and rebounding than his offense.

But the 6-foot-9, 235-pound power forward from Meridian (Miss.) High, who also took visits to Mississippi State and Georgia Tech, can get it done when it's needed.

Evidence of that is a 16-point, 18-rebound, 5-block performance he had Friday in his team's 81-72 win over Science Hill in the third-place game of the Arby's Classic in Bristol, Tenn.

When star guard and leading scorer Jacolby Davis had some choice words for Meridian head coach Ernie Watson at the end of the first quarter, he got benched and McGowan got the ball more inside.

"We had a little situation there where our leading scorer needed to sit for awhile," McGowan said. "So I just tried to pick it up and help my team."

McGowan is averaging 9.1 points, 15 rebounds and 4 blocks this season .

He compares his game to that of Ben Wallace, one of the NBA's top power forwards, although he is too an offensive force.

"That's the way I like to get after it, like him (Wallace)," McGowan said. "I love defense, love rebounding and love to block shots. My offense will get there one day equal to the other things, but I try to bring the defense and intensity every night whether my shot is falling or I am getting the ball."

McGowan actually lifted Meridian into the semifinals two games before when he put in a rebound basket at the buzzer for a 52-50 win over Urspring.

He had 11 points in an 56-45 opening round win over Daniel Boone High School and 12 points and 12 rebounds in a 76-68 semifinal loss to Timpview (Utah) High.

"There were some great teams in the this tournament and I really tried to play as hard as I could," McGowan said. "I could have done a few things better, but at least I played hard and we won three of our four games."

Meridian is 12-5 on the season, but only two of those losses have come on the court. The other three were a result of having to forfeit because of an ineligible player.

"Everybody has really big expectations for us this year, but we don't let the pressure get to us," McGowan said. "We have some very good players on this team and if we play together there is no telling how far we might go."

One of those losses was to No. 1 Jackson Lanier and star guard Monta Ellis, a Mississippi State signee who hit a last-second shot to beat Meridian 70-69.

That came after McGowan had put in a rebound bucket with seven seconds to give his team the lead in a game where he had 9 points, 16 rebounds and 6 blocks.

"I thought we were going to pull it off," McGowan said. "But that was just Monta being Monta."

McGowan -- the third Mississippi prep star to sign with the Razorbacks in two years -- has had a few fans wondering why he would want to leave the state and go to Arkansas.

"They came up to me early on and kept asking 'but why Arkansas?'" McGowan said. "I told them they have great coaches, great facilities and great players and are really building something great up there."

The Razorbacks also have a great record this season with a 12-1 mark heading into Wednesday's SEC opener with visiting Ole Miss.

"They are really playing great as a team," said McGowan, who has seen his future college team play twice on TV. "That's got me even more excited about next year."

DUDLEY E. DAWSON IS A STAFF WRITER FOR HAWGS ILLUSTRATED, A STEPHENS MEDIA GROUP PUBLICATION. HIS COLUMN APPEARS EACH TUESDAY. E-MAIL: DEDSPORTS@AOL.COM

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