Brewer Held Scoreless in First Half

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas' season came to an end the last time guard Ronnie Brewer was held scoreless in a half.

This time, the Razorbacks still have Saturday's regular-season finale at Auburn and next week's Southeastern Conference Tournament to look forward to. But the Hogs' slim NCAA Tournament hopes were dealt a near-fatal blow on a night Brewer was held scoreless in the first half of their 57-55 loss to Mississippi State.

Arkansas' leading scorer, who is averaging 16.6 points a game, found little room in the Bulldogs' stiff zone defense before the break Tuesday night. The sophomore, who finished with 11 points on 4 of 13 shooting, missed all five shots in an all-around sluggish first half in which the Hogs trailed 33-24.

"When you go into halftime and your leading scorer and best player doesn't have a basket, there's a reason why you're down by nine," Arkansas coach Stan Heath said.

Brewer's last scoreless half came during Arkansas' loss to South Carolina in the first round of the 2004 SEC Tournament. Brewer, who had the flu, was scoreless before the break and finished with two points.

He had trouble finding room in a defense that crowded, harassed and jammed him before he could slash to the basket Tuesday night.

The Bulldogs also were wary of the 6-foot-7, 210-pounder's long reach and avoided careless turnovers that typically lead to easy Brewer baskets.

"You know when Ronnie Brewer goes, Arkansas goes," said Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury. "Ronnie makes them go when he's out in transition so much, getting steals, getting dunks, making 3-point plays. We kept him from doing any of that in the first half. He's the one guy in zone that hurts you besides just shooting 3-pointers. (Forward Olu) Famutimi and (guard Jonathon) Modica hurt you with 3-pointers. Brewer hurts you with 3-pointers and the ability to drive and pass it.

"We wanted to jam him as best we could, keep him from creating for other people."

Brewer did everything he could to make up for the slow start after the break.

He got on the board early in the second half, banking a shot off the backboard to cut Mississippi State's lead to 33-26. He also scored five points during the 10-1 run that helped the Hogs pull even with the Bulldogs early in the second half.

Brewer also gave Arkansas' its biggest lead of the night, hitting a 3-pointer that made it 43-37 midway through the second half.

"It would have been more frustrating if I went out there and had zero points, zero assists, zero steals, zero rebounds like I wasn't out there," said Brewer, who finished with 5 rebounds 3 assists and 2 steals. "But I thought I was doing other things on the court in the first half that was helping my team.

"In the second half I tried to pick up my offense."

The spurt didn't hold up for Brewer and the Razorbacks, who went cold down the stretch. Arkansas made one field goal over the final 6:36 and Brewer's last-second, off-balance shot fell short on a night he struggled offensively.

"The second half was very important for us, it was important in the first half, but we had to do some extra things to get (Brewer) going," Heath said. "I'm sure he's a guy they wanted to slow down and they did a good job with that in the first half."

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