Hogs Bully Smaller Tigers

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas played the bully role in Saturday's 95-59 win against Auburn in Bud Walton Arena.

The Tigers (9-7, 0-4) started four guards and forward Quinnel Brown, who at 6-foot-6 was their tallest player. Four out of the five Razorbacks' starters were 6-7 or better, giving Arkansas (14-5, 2-4) a clear advantage from the opening tip.

"It's kind of a helpless feeling out there," said Auburn first-year coach Jeff Lebo, a former North Carolina point guard who regularly practices with his team to give his starters a better game-like simulation. "I feel for them out there and we try to help them as much as we can. We keep battling and we try hard, but when you don't have that size and you don't have that depth, it's tough.

"For 17 minutes, I thought we did a lot of nice things."

Arkansas' game plan was obvious early as it went inside to 6-11 center Darian Townes on two of its first three possessions, resulting in four points for Townes and triggering a 6-0 Razorbacks' opening run.

But that's when Auburn came to life, using their advantage in quickness to offset their size disadvantage. It triggered a few fast-break points and allowed the guards some open shots from beyond the arc.

Three straight 3-pointers (one by Brown and two by Ian Young) highlighted a 9-2 Tigers run and gave them an 18-12 lead with 13:27 remaining in the first half.

"The way they were running their transition, it kind of woke us up, especially when they had that (18-12) lead," said Townes, who had 13 points. "(Arkansas) coach (Stan Heath) called a timeout and said that we've got to contain them and just come out and start banging, Raise our intensity up, play strong and don't let that happen again and we didn't."

An alley oop from Ronnie Brewer to Olu Famutimi out of the timeout seemed to spark Arkansas, but both teams traded buckets over the next eight minutes and Frank Tolbert's 3-pointer for Auburn tied the score at 31-all with under six minutes remaining in the half.

That was as close as it would get as the Razorbacks ended the half with a 14-2 run and made matters worse by scoring the first six points of the second half to build a comfortable 49-33 lead.

With only seven players rotating onto the floor, Heath figured the Tigers had to fizzle out sooner or later.

"We really felt like we could wear them down," Heath said. "I don't know if they did or if they didn't, but obviously the 3-point shots weren't coming as easily. I think more than anything else, the pace of the game at some point in time, started to really favor our team."

During the run -- and pretty much the entire game -- Arkansas was able to go inside for uncontested buckets. The Razorbacks outscored Auburn 40-18 in the paint and 14-4 on second-chance points.

Even 7-0 center Steven Hill, primarily a shot blocker thus far, picked on the smaller Tigers and knocked down four points.

"If we couldn't get the inside-outside game going against this team, then we weren't going to be able to all year against the rest of the (Southeastern Conference)," Hill said. "But it's a good feeling, knowing you can get your shot off and that's the attitude I've got to start taking more and more when I'm playing against some bigger guys next game."

Townes said the key when playing shorter defenders is to keep the ball high. He also studied plenty of film and knew the Tigers' tendencies when they began trying to double team Arkansas' centers early.

"It was mainly the way they were doubling up on the post," Townes said. "I knew I could usually go to my left side or just come in real strong with a quick move to get inside the middle and just score baskets.

"We had the height advantage, but some of them would take some things away from you. Since you were taller, it was easy to score, but not necessarily as easy as it looked."

"Even when we double (team), they're throwing over little guys," Lebo said. "Their vision is good when you're small and they're able to just throw the ball over our heads."

But the Razorbacks didn't just bully with their size. They used sound defense by Eric Ferguson to hold freshman Toney Douglas, the SEC's leading scorer, to eight points on 3 of 13 shooting.

"When you play against a quick guy like (Ferguson), you can't play with them," Douglas said. "You have to either go straight by them or make an immediate move because a good defensive player like him, he'll just take the ball from you."

Ferguson said Douglas' ball skills and quickness made him even tougher to defend than Florida point guard Anthony Roberson, an All-SEC performer.

"I know he could shoot the ball real well," Ferguson said. "So I just tried to stay in front of him and play him solidly because he's such a good scorer and you can't make too many mistakes.

"I tried to go around a screen one time and he would just pop back out and hit the shot, so little mistakes like that, he can hurt you with.

"But fortunately, we didn't make many mistakes."

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