Hogs Lose In Bizarre Setting And Fashion

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – You knew this was going to be weird when you saw Arkansas freshman center Darian Townes glare at the Commodores' mascot (think old man and the sea) during Saturday night's introductions while the theme from "Hawaii Five-0" blared.


You know all about the raised floor in Vanderbilt's Memorial Gym, and that the benches are behind the baskets, home-court advantages that should not be legal.

But did you know it's apparently cool to wear yellow wigs here?

The Vanderbilt band played "Crazy Train" and "Louie, Louie" and Commodores coach Kevin Stalling whistled loudly throughout.

Vanderbilt pressed and outquicked Arkansas.

Bet Nolan Richardson is turning over on his ranch.

Commodores fans get super juked when Vanderbilt players spot up for 3s, and guys with names like Dawid Przybyszewsi, a 7-foot-2 3-point shooting center, and Jason Holwerda and Ted Skuchas played major roles for Vandy.

Arkansas' best player, sophomore guard Ronnie Brewer, missed two dunks.

"Someone sprinkled some Memorial Magic in here tonight," said a grinning Vanderbilt point guard Mario Moore after his team's 79-65 win here.

"Tonight was one of those nights," said Vanderbilt forward Shan Foster, who drained 5 of 10 treys.

It was fitting that in this wacky setting the game changed on a bizarre call.

With about eight minutes left and the Hogs within four points, Arkansas pressed. Przybyszewski caught the ball near halfcourt, then fired it to a sprinting Moore.

Moore took the pass in stride as Arkansas forward Rashard Sullivan fought his way into position. Sullivan raised both arms and tried to block Moore's layup attempt, but he got more of Moore than the ball.

The officials called it an intentional foul. We figure you called them something else if you watched on TV.

Heck, Moore and Stallings told Sullivan afterward that it was a bad call.

"It wasn't a great call," Moore admitted to reporters.

Moore made both free throws and Vanderbilt retained possession because of the gaffed call.

Foster drilled yet another Vanderbilt 3, and the Commodores were off and running at 60-51.

Next possession, Brewer fired an airball and the Hogs committed a shot-clock violation.

"(Sullivan) was going for the block," Townes said. "It was a bad call. I don't want to say that was the turning point of the game, but it probably was."

Said Brewer, who was told by official Antonio Petty that Sullivan was whistled for using excessive force: "Rashard made a good play. We're not supposed to give up layups, and he contested it. He's a big guy, and if you foul a little guard out there he's going to flop."

Arkansas coach Stan Heath was more upset with his team's lack of second-half defense than with the call, but acknowledged, "That was a critical time. A big turning point."

Stallings didn't think it was the difference.

"It was a big play," he said. "I don't want to say it was the game. We had control of the game.

"We weren't in danger of having them take control."

Not on this night.

Arkansas mostly played tit for tat with Vanderbilt, one of the nation's best 3-point shooting teams, until the intentional foul call, cutting what had been a nine-point deficit to 55-51 after an Olu Famutimi steal and assist to Brewer.

But the Hogs – who, like the Commodores, were playing for their NCAA Tournament lives – seemed out of sync and slowish.

"They outran us up and down the court all day," said Arkansas junior guard Jonathon  Modica. "We just weren't as aware as we should have (been) today."

Said Brewer, who led the Hogs with 20 points: "Me, personally, I get up for every game. I can't talk for everybody else on this basketball team.

"But if you can't get up for a basketball game ... The off-season, the preseason, all the stuff you went through, you should be ready to play the game.

"I guess some people weren't ready."

Asked if he was surprised the Commodores consistently sailed past the Hogs, Moore (who scored 20 points and had an eye-popping 13 assists) shook his head emphatically.

"I wasn't surprised," Moore said. "We were being aggressive. We were able to put them on their heels. You know, nine times out of 10, we couldn't get them back on their heels like that.

"But we wanted it more."

The Hogs generally downplayed Memorial Gym's strange setup, saying it didn't make much difference.

"I don't think so. I won't make an excuse like that," Modica said.

Said Townes: "Nah, it didn't really affect us. Actually, it's an OK building. But it's basically like you're on your own for a half (because the coach is on the other end)."

"You should be able to adjust," Brewer said. "(The Commodores) were just making shots."

And how. Vanderbilt canned 12 of 27 3-point attempts and 15 of 17 free-throw tries.

"The shots they were making, you thought were going off, but they were going in," Townes said.

"One minute we were down by a couple of points, and the next minute we were down by 11. We just had a lot of breakdowns."

Now the Hogs' NCAA chances likely are busted up (barring an unlikely SEC Tournament championship) even if they finish with wins against Tennessee, Mississippi State and at Auburn.

"I really can't even answer that," said Townes when asked about Arkansas' NCAA chances.

Heath, who said the week off will give his young players time to "regroup" and rest, did.

"Are we out of it? No," Heath said.

"Will it be hard as heck to get there?


Any discussion of such likely is wishful thinking at this point.

Especially after this.

Townes shook his head.

"It was a weird night," he said.

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