But the Razorbacks' 80-55 loss at No. 11 Mississippi State was a homecoming the Jackson, Miss., native would like to forget.
Thomas struggled throughout the Razorbacks' third consecutive loss, finishing with a career-low 2 points, 3 rebounds and a career-high 4 turnovers in his 13 minutes in Humphrey Coliseum. The 6-foot-8, 243-pound Thomas, who entered Saturday's game averaging 8.7 points and 3.4 rebounds, was held scoreless until notching a layup midway through the second half.
"It is disappointing," said Thomas, who had about 30 friends and family members in attendance. "I was eager to get out there and play, but I made some mistakes."
Arkansas tried to get Thomas involved on the offensive end early on, but he missed his first two shots with Mississippi State forward Lawrence Roberts guarding him. Thomas played eight minutes in the first half, but was 0 of 2 from the field, grabbed one rebound and turned the ball over three times.
"Charles was coming home and wanted to play well," said Arkansas coach Stan Heath. "He had some turnovers that I thought were caused from being too up for this game."
Thomas had a productive high school career, earning all-Mississippi honors from the Jackson Clarion-Ledger after averaging 27.4 points, 12 rebounds and 4 assists as a senior at Callaway (Miss.) High in Jackson. Thomas also played at Lanier High as a junior and averaged 14.3 points 7.4 rebounds.
The good news is Thomas has plenty of chances to redeem himself in his home state during his career. Arkansas' next stop in Mississippi is at Ole Miss on Feb. 5.
Mississippi State's NCAA-leading, 16-game road winning streak came to an end after its 64-63 loss at Tennessee last Wednesday. But the Bulldogs continued their dominance at home, winning their ninth straight in Humphrey Coliseum on Saturday.
The Bulldogs led off their SEC home schedule by claiming their largest win against an SEC opponent since 1997-98 with a 90-53 victory against Auburn. Mississippi State is 7-0 at home this season and has won by an average of 25.3 points.
"In this league, you have to protect home court," said Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury. "We were all disappointed after the Tennessee loss, but we have to put it behind us."
In the meantime, Arkansas lost its 11th straight game on the road and hasn't beaten a ranked team outside Bud Walton Arena since Feb. 28, 2001, when the Nolan Richardson-led Hogs knocked off No. 20 Alabama, 66-63.
The Razorbacks also dropped their third consecutive game against a ranked opponent this season. Arkansas lost to then-No. 3 Illinois 72-60 in Little Rock on Dec. 4 and at home against No. 21 Alabama (64-61) last Tuesday.
Mississippi State forward Lawrence Roberts and Arkansas guard Jonathon Modica exchanged "pleasantries" on the Humphrey Coliseum floor late in the first half of Saturday's game. The two were tangled up after diving for a loose ball and had to be separated by the officials.
Roberts and Modica were assessed technical fouls.
"I didn't see it," Stansbury said. "The explanation was neither one of them was letting go of the ball and saying not nice things to each other. We'll leave it at that."
The reprimand didn't deter Roberts, who called for the ball in the post on Mississippi State's next possession. Roberts made a move on Arkansas forward Rashard Sullivan and scored an easy layup to give Mississippi State a 27-15 lead.
Mississippi State played its second game without guard Winsome Frazier, who broke his left foot during the Bulldogs' 87-76 win against Ole Miss on Jan. 8. The senior is sidelined the rest of the season, but the Bulldogs' faithful didn't forget him Saturday.
Frazier received a standing ovation when he limped across the court on crutches before the start of the game. He was introduced by the Mississippi State public address announcer and greeted by the student section, which chanted "Winsome Frazier" before tip-off.
Frazier was Mississippi State's second-leading scorer (13.3 points) and was named most valuable player of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic. Junior Jamall Edmondson started his second game in Frazier's place against Arkansas and scored eight points.
"The more he plays, the more comfortable he will get," Stansbury said. "I saw him do some things (Saturday) that I have not seen him do in a while."
Roberts reached a milestone against the Razorbacks by grabbing the 1,000th rebound of his career. Roberts finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds in Mississippi State's win and leads all active Division I players with 1,005 career boards.
Roberts entered the game first in the SEC in rebounds (11.6 a game), second in scoring (19) and eighth in field goal percentage (47.6 percent). He notched his ninth double-double of the season against the Razorbacks.
Thomas Has Disappointing Homecoming
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