Grandmother Ignites Pookie

Arkansas got a fast start from Jonathon Modica and solid performances in several other areas to beat LSU. Here's what they said in the locker room.

The lady who gave Jonathon Modica the "Pookie" nickname got her grandson going Saturday against LSU -- almost too fast.

"My grandmother was here today and I was really up for this game," Modica said after ripping LSU with 25 points and nine rebounds in Arkansas' 65-62 victory Saturday at Bud Walton Arena.

"I was so up that I had to come out at the start of the game. I asked Coach (Stan Heath) to come get me before the game was three minutes old."

Modica had already scored five points at the 17:26 mark when he came out. He returned in just 63 seconds and continued to pile up big plays for the Hogs. He scored 17 in the first half , most of them before teammates Darian Townes and Ronnie Brewer caught fire, too.

"We had it going in a lot of ways today," Modica said. "Everyone did their part. Our big men set some great screens, better than what we've had. The last two days we've worked on setting screens and for the guards to come off them real tight. We were open and we knocked down some shots. I just wish we would have finished them off with some aggressive play in the last five minutes.

"We were knocking down free throws and had we been a little more aggressive, maybe we would have gotten a few more free throw chances.

"As for me, that first three got me off. I hit it and my rhythm was there for a while. I just didn't want to force it, just let it happen. If it wasn't there, give it to Darian Townes.

"I feel a lot more confident. I don't want to sound cocky, but that's how I'm supposed to be playing for this team."

Pookie said his grandmother hasn't been to any games in Fayetteville because his grandfather is recovering from surgery.

"They had to take out one of his kidneys and she couldn't leave him," Modica said. "I was so excited she came today. I always make eye contact with her if she is in the arena. When I looked up there today and saw her, she was wearing a No. 24 jersey. I went off when I saw that."

Heath said it was Modica's "best game in a Razorback jersey. He's been pretty good the last two or three games, but today was something to watch. I was surprised though when he wanted to come out at the start."

Told of his coaches comments, Modica said, "I am most proud of the nine rebounds. I want to do more than score. I want to help this team win. I'm proud we are on a three-game winning streak and that I helped a little.

"Everyone had a part. It was a team win. We worked hard the last two days to get our timing right coming off screens. We were better today.

"Ronnie Brewer got that second foul and had to sit a long time in the first half, but coach believed in him and put him back out there. He just blew the game open with that spurt just before halftime."

Heath said he went away from his four-guard lineup because of LSU's double threat inside of Glenn Davis and Brandon Bass.

"I thought we had been out of sync with the four-guard offense, but it was something we had to do to get us going," Heath said. "The problem was, who to take out. I was going through those five guys trying to figure out who to take out of the lineup. Eric Ferguson made it easy. He said he plays better coming off the bench."

Ferguson was in the game quickly, subbing for Modica inside the three-minute mark. And, when Modica came back, he subbed for Olu Famutimi.

"Now, we've got to get Olu going again," Heath said. "I think that will happen."

Heath thought the Hogs' troubles down the stretch when LSU made a nice comeback were mainly do to Brewer's foul trouble.

"I thought he was playing so well," said Heath, who seemed to question some of the charging calls made against Brewer. "I think he was a mismatch for them. Him leaving the game made a big difference."

Heath was pleased with the way Townes matched Davis and the way Charles Thomas and Rashard Sullivan handled Bass.

"That's about as good as you are going to do on those two," Heath said. "We were terrific there on defense."

Townes said it was a matter of answering the bell after a weak performance against Davis at Baton Rouge.

"I'll be honest, he beat me up down there and that wasn't going to happen today," Townes said. "I had to literally push him out of the spot he wanted on the block. It took a lot of energy, but I did it. And, we worked hard on our rebouding. I had to rebound today. This was a rebound day for us. They beat us up on the boards down there and we were plus five in rebounds today. That was a big key today, that and hitting clutch free throws.

"Now it's on to Alabama. Today was pay back and we would like to have another one at Alabama. They beat us earlier, but we are playing a lot better now. We have come together as a team and we are on a roll."


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