Hogs Rebound For Critical Win

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas coach Stan Heath jumped as high as he could when it was over.

Freshman center Darian Townes collapsed to the floor in relief when he reached the locker room.

Antonio Hudson's game-tying 3-point attempt bounced out of bounds as the clock expired and Arkansas hung on to avenge its controversial 66-63 overtime loss at LSU last month with a 65-62 win against the Tigers before 20,273 fans in Bud Walton Arena on Saturday.

The Razorbacks (17-7, 5-6 in the Southeastern Conference) nearly gave away a 15-point, second-half lead but made enough critical plays down the stretch to win their third SEC game in a row and their fifth in a season for the first time in three years under Heath.

Arkansas will try to even its SEC record on Wednesday night at No. 17 Alabama, a team that beat the Razorbacks 64-61 in Fayetteville on Jan. 11.

Junior captain Jonathon  Modica had a game- and season-high 25 points on 10 of 16 shooting and tied with Townes for game honors in rebounds with a season-best 9.

Townes added 14 points and sophomore Ronnie Brewer, who'd been averaging 35 minutes per game in SEC action, added 19 in an SEC-low 26 minutes because of foul trouble in both halves.

After Glen "Big Baby" Davis and Brandon Bass combined for 41 points and 26 rebounds in Baton Rouge on Jan. 19, the post tandem managed 25 points and 14 rebounds on Saturday.

"I don't know if you can do a better job against him and Bass," Heath said. "They are terrific players. To slow them down a little bit -- you can't stop them -- but to slow them down gave us a great chance, and we could pull off the win."

Davis had 26 points and 18 rebounds against the Hogs the first time around but was as close to a non-factor as a 6-foot-9, 310-pound player can be with 11 points and 7 rebounds (one offensive) in 27 minutes.

Bass (14 points on 3 of 9 shooting) was harassed for 30 minutes by 6-7 Arkansas freshman forward Charles Thomas, who didn't make a shot but dedicated himself to slowing down Bass.

Thomas only grabbed one rebound, but it was a huge one off a Bass miss with LSU (13-8, 6-4) in the midst of a 20-10 run to cut Arkansas' lead to 61-56 with 3:48 to play.

Modica made a pull-up jumper on the ensuing possession, Eric  Ferguson grabbed a Davis miss, and a pair of Townes free throws with 1:49 to play pushed Arkansas to a 65-59 advantage that held up when Hudson couldn't get a clean look over Olu Famutimi.

"I didn't want to go to overtime," Townes said. "I didn't want to go through that same thing."

After shooting 15 of 29 (51.7 percent) in the first half, Arkansas made only six baskets in the second half. But LSU could convert just 10 and shot 13 of 23 (56.5 percent) from the free-throw line.

The Razorbacks started the second half on a 10-4 run and built a 51-36 lead with 12:25 to play, but the Hogs went 3 of 14 from the field the rest of the way.

Arkansas committed 10 second-half turnovers but limited LSU to one shot per possession for the most part and went 7 of 7 from the foul line in the final 7:27.

Brewer went to the bench with his fourth foul at the 8:39 mark with Arkansas leading 55-45. When he returned four minutes later, LSU was within 61-54 and made it 61-56 on a Tack Minor basket with 4:19 to play.

LSU got within three on Hudson's 3-pointer with 1:35 remaining, but Arkansas ran the shot-clock down on its next two possessions to shorten the game and give LSU two good chances to tie.

Before Hudson's final miss, Darrel Mitchell's game-tying attempt hit the shot-clock with 55.9 seconds left.

"In the second half, we really did the things that have been preached to us over the last three years when we've lost close games – getting rebounds, hitting those free throws and doing those things that help us become a great basketball team, not just a good one," Modica said.

Arkansas hasn't won three SEC games in a row since taking five straight at the end of the 2001 season. The win snapped a five-game losing streak against the Tigers and was the fourth losing streak Arkansas has stopped in the last three games. Arkansas halted a 13-game SEC road losing streak and an eight-game losing streak at Ole Miss with its 66-65 win last Saturday and a three-game slide against Georgia with its 62-47 win on Wednesday.

The Razorbacks struggled from the field but shot 16 of 17 from the foul line (94.1 percent, fourth-best ever) and outrebounded LSU 34-29 to reverse two areas that contributed more to their 66-63 loss in Baton Rouge than lead official Tom Eades' decision to give Mike Jones 2 points instead of 3 for his final shot that sent the game into overtime.

Arkansas was 11 of 19 from the line and was outrebounded 42-29 in Baton Rouge. Since then, Arkansas has won the rebounding battle and shot better than 70 percent from the line in five of six games.

"Rebounds and free throws make a huge difference," Heath said. "It completes your defense. And if you put that (foul) shooting into a couple games earlier in the season, we'd have a heck of a record right now."

Modica scored 15 of Arkansas' first 21 points on 6 of 6 shooting and grabbed 6 rebounds to help give the Hogs a 16-14 edge on the glass in the first half.

Davis didn't get a touch until more than four minutes into the game and he barely held it for a second before dishing off on a give-and-go to Minor for a layup to tie the score at 11-all.

A Minor 3-pointer gave LSU its biggest lead at 17-13, but Modica answered right back with a trey and just more than two minutes later gave Arkansas the lead with another 3-pointer to make it 21-20.

The first half featured nine lead changes and seven ties, but Arkansas broke open the game with a 13-4 run with 11 of those points scored by Brewer.

Townes hit two free throws to tie the score at 28-all and Brewer made 4 of 4 to give Arkansas a 32-29 lead.

Brewer pulled up for a long 2, answered a Hudson basket with a pull-up jumper six seconds later and drained a long 3-pointer to make it a 41-32 halftime lead for the Razorbacks.

"I think we have a different mentality," Modica said. "We feel like we should be the team that should be intimidating, not the team that should be intimidated."

Hawgs Daily Top Stories