At the very least, Thomas knew he'd have plenty of bumps and bruises after banging with LSU's physical post players, 6-foot-8, 252-pound Brandon Bass and 6-foot-9, 310-pound Glen Davis. But the 6-foot-8, 243-pound Thomas also predicted that any welts would be worth it after he and the Razorbacks kept the Tigers off the boards during the crucial win.
"It was rough down there," said Thomas, who started and played 30 minutes. "You get knocked in the head a couple times. It was real physical. But that's just what comes with playing in the (Southeastern Conference)."
Thomas, center Darian Townes and the rest of Arkansas' post players put together a big-time effort against LSU, holding Bass and Davis to a combined 25 points and 14 rebounds. It was an enormous difference one month after Davis alone notched 26 points and 18 boards -- 7 on the offensive end -- in an overpowering performance during the Tigers' 66--63 overtime win against the Hogs on Jan. 12.
Davis and Bass combined for 41 points and 26 rebounds in the first meeting.
"It was one of those games where we challenged them every practice from that last (LSU) game because we thought they just totally manhandled us," said Arkansas assistant Ronny Thompson, who coaches post players. "It was a grind because of two loads. You're talking two pros, kids that are definitely going to be in the NBA.
"I thought our young guys fought and battled with them every step of the way."
The 6-foot-10, 250-pound Townes, who scored 14 points and added a career-high 9 rebounds, said Arkansas emphasized defense and rebounding in preparation for the beefy Tigers. Townes, who picked apart film of the first game against LSU, said the Hogs boxed out poorly, relied too much on help from the backcourt and let Davis, who is nicknamed "Big Baby," fight his way into the paint.
LSU dominated the first meeting, winning the battle on the boards 42-29. The Tigers grabbed 17 offensive rebounds and scored 20 second chance points.
But LSU was held to 8 offensive rebounds -- four were team rebounds -- and scored 5 second chance points against the Hogs on Saturday. Davis and Bass finished with one offensive rebound apiece. Arkansas had a 34-29 rebounding edge.
Thomas said Arkansas refused to be bullied by Davis and Bass, crediting the enormous turnaround to an intense sense of pride.
Coach Stan Heath said it was apparent, calling the effort a crucial piece of the win.
"I don't know if we could do a better job against (Davis) and Bass," Heath said. "They are terrific players.
"To be able to slow them down a little bit, it definitely gave us a great chance."
Holding Their Ground
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