Hogs Battle Cats' Big Men

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas' Darian Townes tried to set the tone for Saturday's 68-67 loss against Kentucky by draining a nine-foot jumper over the Wildcats' Randolph Morris.

On early possessions in previous games, Townes had been posting up defenders before shooting a turnaround jumper for his first bucket.

And when Saturday's shot swished through the net to cause most of the 20,268 in Bud Walton Arena to erupt, Townes smiled for a moment as he raced back down to the other end of the court.

"I kind of knew they had studied that turnaround jump shot," said Townes, a 6-10 freshman center. "So I just wanted to bring something different to the game early.

"The smile, that was me getting pumped up basically and trying to get the fans more into it."

While Townes' opening bucket came with ease, the Razorbacks big men had to work extra hard after that for most everything they got against Kentucky's more experienced and much taller frontcourt.

Randolph, a talented 6-foot-10 freshman, started and the Wildcats got even bigger when 7-3 Shagari Alleyne or 7-0 Lukasz Obrzut came off the bench.

"You look at it and they start off at 6-10," Townes said. "But then you look at the bench and here comes a 7-3 dude. Then, you look again, and there's another 7-footer so I was like, "Good God! They're really big.'

"We knew it was going to be a battle."

Even Arkansas' 7-0 freshman center Steven Hill was dwarfed by Alleyne, who contributed four points and two big blocked shots in the second half.

"He was a head taller than me and had like an eight-foot wingspan so he was a giant out there," Hill said. "He definitely clogged it up in there and when you can get those kind of defensive stops that start with a block, it often leads to fast-break points and that really gave them a lift there in the second half."

Alleyne came off the bench with 13:57 remaining in the second half and his team trailing 46-42. He made two bad passes, but made up for it with a dunk, two blocked shots and a pair of free throws to tie the score at 48-all and give the Wildcats all the momentum they needed for the come-from-behind victory.

"I'm not sure I could post him up and score on him," said Kentucky's Kelenna Azubuike, a second-team All-SEC selection. "He made some big blocks there when Arkansas had the momentum.

"He's going to be huge for us down the stretch because all we've got to do is throw it up high to him for him to catch it and do something with it and the defender can't do anything to stop him really."

Despite the mismatches in size, Arkansas still managed to outscore Kentucky 36-34 in the paint and 20-12 on second- chance points. The Hogs also held a 37-30 rebounding advantage.

The play of Kentucky's big men became even more key this week when All-SEC forward Chuck Hayes fractured his nose in the first half of an 84-62 win at Tennessee on Tuesday.

Hayes wore a hard plastic mask over his face and finished with four points and two rebounds, both season lows not counting the Tennessee game. He said Arkansas' post players were as talented as any the Wildcats have faced this season.

"They're good, they're young and with time and some more experience, they'll be very good," Hayes said. "They're only going to get better. Their only weakness was experience. That was it.

"Over time, they're going to be really tough."

With Hayes limited, that allowed sophomore forward Bobby Perry to contribute nine points, all in the second half, off the bench. He was the only inside player for Kentucky to even come close to scoring in double figures.

"They were very athletic, very strong guys (inside)," Perry said. "They played solid defense and went to the boards hard. I thought they were great, as good as any (big men) we've seen.

"We felt like we had some size on them, but they didn't seem to let that bother them and really played through it."

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