Hogs Crawl Past Dawgs

FAYETTEVILLE -- The "Thrilla in the 'Villa" this wasn't.

Arkansas survived a low-scoring letdown game after its first Southeastern Conference road win in almost two years and captured consecutive SEC victories for the first time since 2003 with a 62-47 win against cellar-dweller Georgia on Wednesday night before 16,234 in Bud Walton Arena.

The Razorbacks (16-7, 4-6 in SEC) hadn't beaten two SEC foes in a row since knocking off Vanderbilt and Mississippi State during third-year coach Stan Heath's first season.

After handing Georgia (7-13, 1-9) its latest SEC loss, Arkansas will try to continue the climb out of the Razorbacks' Western Division hole when it hosts second-place LSU (13-7, 6-3) on Saturday.

The Razorbacks' next conference win also will be a first for Heath after consecutive 4-12 SEC seasons.

Arkansas is postseason eligible for the first time since 2001 after guaranteeing itself a winning record following three straight losing seasons, but whether that destination is the NIT or the NCAA Tournament likely will hinge on getting back to at least .500 in SEC play.

Arkansas snapped an eight-game losing streak - and 13-game SEC road skid -at Ole Miss with its 66-65 win Saturday and ended a three-game string of futility against Georgia.

Now the Hogs turn their attention to stopping LSU's five-game winning streak against the Razorbacks which includes the Tigers' controversial 66-63 overtime win in Baton Rouge on Jan. 19 when what would've been a game-winning Mike Jones 3-pointer was changed to a 2 after the regulation buzzer.

"We got a lot of catching up to do (to make the NCAA Tournament)," Heath said. "It's not out of the question. I can do math. There's a lot of games in front of us we need to take care of business on."

Freshman center Darian Townes led Arkansas in scoring for the second straight game with 17 points on 7 of 13 shooting and junior Jonathon  Modica eclipsed the 1,000-point plateau with 14 on 7 of 12 from the field.

"I just wanted to approach the game that I know I'm going to score, that no one can stop me," Townes said.

Sophomore Ronnie Brewer added 15 points and tied for game-high honors with 6 rebounds.

Junior Eric  Ferguson had 5 steals, 4 assists and extended Arkansas' streak of games with at least one 3-pointer to 538 to give the Razorbacks a 36-27 lead just more than five minutes into the second half. It was the only trey of the game for the Hogs.

Arkansas scored 18 points off 16 Georgia turnovers and built a lead as large as 61-44 with 1:35 left following Steven Hill's second basket and fifth and sixth points of the night.

Hill's 6 points in 12 minutes were a career-high in SEC play, and his 2 rebounds matched his best against South Carolina.

Georgia coach Dennis Felton's team was accused of dirty and roughhouse play by Alabama coach Mark Gottfried and South Carolina forward Carlos Powell last week, but the game was cleanly played with only 25 total fouls called compared to 51 in Arkansas' game at Ole Miss.

Felton wanted to slow the pace, and at least that part of his plan worked.

"We did a good job controlling the tempo of the game," Felton said. "We made sure it was played on our terms."

The Razorbacks shot 50 percent and 13 of 16 (81.3 percent) from the foul line for their fourth straight game of shooting better than 70 percent from the stripe.

Arkansas won the rebounding battle 27-25.

After allowing Georgia to start the game 7 of 12 from the field, Arkansas allowed just 14 of 27 makes (37.8 percent) in the next 28 minutes.

"It's a good feeling to have a chance at a three-game winning streak," Brewer said. "We haven't had one of those in a long time. We just want to go out there and execute well and have an opportunity to have a streak going. We just have to build off this and play better."

Georgia freshman guard Channing Toney led the Bulldogs with 21 on 9 of 16 shooting. Fellow freshman Sundiata Gaines scored 12, but no other Bulldog had more than 6.

The Bulldogs had Arkansas struggling to run offense in the first half with aggressive defense denying entry passes to the wing and the post with strong fronts against Townes inside and pressure against Ferguson at the point.

"Georgia took us out of some things and we looked a little bewildered offensively," Heath said.

Arkansas is also still adjusting to a four-guard starting lineup with Olu Famutimi, Modica, Brewer and Ferguson along with Townes.

"We never expected this to be an easy game," Heath said. "Give Georgia credit, especially in the first half, of making it uneasy for us. We didn't look good, and that was part us and part them.

"I thought once we made a few adjustments, things got a little smoother for us."

Toney showed why Arkansas recruited him in the first half by hitting 5 of 8 shots for 12 points and keeping Georgia in the game without leading scorer Levi Stukes, who averages 15.4 points per game, but was sidelined with an ankle injury.

"They were running him off a lot of screens and he was moving well," Brewer said. "He was knocking down shots and really helped his team out."

The Bulldogs held leads of 18-15 and 21-19 before Arkansas finished the first half with an 8-0 run.

Things started getting easier for the Hogs when they turned up the defensive pressure, shifting the game from a halfcourt affair to an uptempo pace more to their liking in the closing moments of the first half.

Arkansas forced five turnovers in five minutes before halftime, capping the run on Brewer's steal, Rashard Sullivan's recovery and tap out to the streaking Brewer, who twisted in the air and slammed down his second reverse jam of the first half to give the Hogs a 27-21 lead at intermission.

"Today was a step in the right direction," Heath said. "We have 16 wins right now, and that's pretty good. We just have to get that conference record up."

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