Brewer Focus Of Florida's Defense

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Arkansas guard Ronnie Brewer limped across the cramped visitors' locker room with a bag of ice wrapped tightly around his left ankle after the Razorbacks' 82-74 loss at Florida.

The unwanted souvenir was the sign of the sophomore's frustrating outing in the O'Connell Center on Saturday.

"I struggled a little bit," Brewer said. "But this is our first (Southeastern Conference) road game so I think everybody is going to struggle a little bit."

Arkansas' leading scorer notched a game-high 20 points, added three steals and played a key role in a late-game charge that trimmed Florida's 17-point lead to six in the final minute. But the Razorbacks were missing Brewer's usual all-around performance during an afternoon in which the 6-foot-7, 210-pounder recorded one assist and was held without a rebound in a game-high 36 minutes.

Brewer entered the game averaging 16.2 points, 4.7 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 3.3 steals.

It didn't help that Brewer was guarded closely by a Florida defense that was challenged by coach Billy Donovan this week. Donovan said the youngster's talents are "spectacular" and the Gators' defense spent most of the week focusing on Brewer and the Arkansas backcourt.

"We wanted to make sure he didn't get any open looks and do whatever we could to contain him," said Florida guard Anthony Roberson. "We did a pretty good job. He didn't get off and beat us and that's what matters."

Brewer missed two early shots, which coach Stan Heath said might've caused him to back off on the offensive end in the first half.

Brewer was 3 of 9 from the field before the break and notched only 6 points as the Hogs trailed 31-26.

"I don't think he got off to the start he wanted to, but he really picked it up in the second half," Heath said. "Ronnie normally has more of a presence defensively. He wasn't as big a factor as he has been in other games. But he's still a sophomore."

Brewer said Arkansas assistant Oronde Taliaferro encouraged him to stay aggressive in the second half, but a twisted ankle slowed him down. The injury occured when Brewer came off a screen and tried to whip the ball back out to the top of the key early in the second half. As he jumped in the air, Brewer stepped on a Florida defenders' foot, twisted his ankle and fell to the ground.

He also got popped in the eye a handful of times by an aggressive Florida defense.

"Every time I went to the lane and I'd shoot it up, they'd come down and hit me right in my left eye," Brewer said laughing. "I got hit three or four times in the same eye. So every time I go to the free throw line and my eyes would be all watery."

Brewer was 6 of 10 from the free throw line and turned the ball over twice, including a poor decision on a lob attempt that was broken up by Florida center David Lee in the second half. But Brewer snapped out of his funk to score 14 points after the break on 4 of 7 shooting.

He made two free throws to cut Florida's lead to 65-55 with 6:04 left. He converted a three-point play a little later to end a 6-0 Gators run. He also scored four straight points to key a 9-1 run that made it 78-72 in the final minute.

It wasn't his best outing as a Razorback, but Brewer was confident he'll improve in time for Arkansas' next game against Alabama on Tuesday night.

But Heath said Brewer will have to get used to the attention from opponents because it'll only intensify during the next 14 games.

"That's the scouting report on him," Heath said. "People want to go at him. They want to attack him. They want to foul him. They want him to make free throws.

"They want him to get frustrated because he's a good player."

Hawgs Daily Top Stories