Arkansas got good news on Darian Townes' knee and more good news when Ole Miss inside wide body Tommie Eddie was withheld. That give and take may have been the difference in the Hogs' 69-46 victory over the Rebels.
Townes injured a knee in practice Monday. He wore a knee wrap against the Rebels, playing 22 minutes with no real problem from the injury. The 6-10 freshman scored 12 points with two blocks although his presence in the middle seemed to deter the Rebels from even looking inside.
Eddie, 6-7 by 250, was suspended from the game for academic reasons, although UM coach Rod Barnes would not make not comment on his situation. Without Eddie, the Rebels were not the same team.
"We knew they were missing something tonight," Townes said. "They weren't as talented tonight as they have been and we knew that. You could tell they were missing something and knew it."
Townes said his knee was fine. He was just happy that it wasn't the other knee, the one he severely injured two years ago.
"I just got my treatment and it was okay," he said. "Oh, not all the way fine, but good enough. I'll be even better after a day of treatment and some weight lifting with it."
UA coach Stan Heath said his staff "heard rumors" of Eddie's problems earlier in the day.
"We still went in with a plan for him," Heath said. "But we had to make some adjustments. I'm sure it affectd Ole Miss."
Barnes probably thought that an understatement.
"We are inside oriented with (Eddie)," Barnes said. "We still wanted to play that way, but our guys weren't looking in there much. We didn't have an inside presence and they have a big inside presence this year with Townes and (Steven) Hill. That's the difference in Arkansas this year."
Arkansas forced 24 Ole Miss turnovers, 18 in the second half when the Hogs turned up the heat in their man-to-man defense and their press.
"Coach wanted us to make a statement in the second half," Ferguson said. "It was a matter of us relaxing in the second half. We may have been too hyped up in the first half. In the second half, we moved our feet and played better defense.
"We just tried to play hard defense until the end of each possession. We did get in the passing lanes a little better in the second half, too."
Heath agreed with that assessment.
"We were very emotional because this was the first SEC game," Heath said. "We wanted a good start. So our guys were really up. You could tell that with Ronnie (Brewer) and Jonathon (Modica) especially."
Those two combined to make just 5 of 16 foul shots as the Hogs converted just 48 percent of their 37 free throws.
"I think that's where you see how jacked up we are because Modica is usually a very good foul shooter," Heath said. "Still he gave us a good spark in the second half. It was not one of his better overall games, but he made some big plays when we broke it open. He had a steal and a bucket and a pass for Darian's dunk and those were two big plays. After that, we knew we had control of the game."
While the Hogs were forcing 24 UM turnovers, they were committing just 11 for the game.
"Our point guards did well," Heath said. "Both
Eric Ferguson and Dontell Jefferson had nice games. We knew Ole Miss was going to come after us and we handled it well."
Of the Arkansas pressure, Barnes said, "Arkansas can really come after you because they know they have Townes and Hill back there to guard the basket. That makes a big difference and they really have some athletes to come after you."
Locker room notes and quotes
Hawgs Daily Top Stories
TCU vs Iowa State primerAfter falling in double-overtime to Arkansas, TCU looks to get back to their winning ways against Iowa State.
Horned Frog Insider09/15/2016
The Ultimate Midlands TeamThere is a lot of talent in the Midlands region, with a vast majority of the highest rated recruits playing high school football in the Lone Star State. Which prospects made the…
These rival helmet color swaps are revoltingSwapping rival teams' helmet colors? It shouldn't have been done, but someone did it anyway.
Post-July 2017 Top 100 Player RankingsWith the July evaluation periods, Nike Skills Academy, adidas Nations and Under Armour's Elite 24 over, Scout's basketball recruiting team has updated the 2017 top 100. DeAndre…