Shooting Blanks

ATLANTA -- Arkansas guard Ronnie Brewer told the Southeastern Conference media Wednesday the Razorbacks understood what it took to beat back the zone defenses that have suffocated them all winter.

The problem is, Arkansas proved once again that knowing it and accomplishing it are two very different things.

The Hogs' mind-boggling troubles against a zone continued at another inopportune time during its 65-46 loss to Tennessee in the first round of the 2005 SEC Tournament on Thursday. Five days after a 10:42 scoreless drought at Auburn, Arkansas didn't make a field goal over a 9:42 stretch en route to being bounced in the first round of the tournament for the fourth straight season.

"It's so surprising," Arkansas coach Stan Heath said. "(A zone) was never a factor through the majority of the season. It hit us about the Alabama game (on Feb. 16) in the second half and it just seems like it has continued from there.

"It's not that I haven't seen signs where we get the job done against it, but we haven't done it as consistently as we needed to."

The Razorbacks' were 9 of 25 (38 percent) from the field in the first half against the Vols, numbers that don't look terrible on the surface. But in reality, Arkansas made 5 of its first 6 shots and grabbed a 13-8 lead before crumbling.

The Volunteers abandoned their man-to-man defense after Arkansas forward Rashard Sullivan's layup gave the Hogs a five-point lead with 14:21 left in the half. After that, the Hogs mustered only two Darian Townes free throws over the next 9:42 and the Volunteers quickly outscored Arkansas 21-2.

Brewer finally ended Arkansas' drought and cut Tennessee's lead to 29-17 when he scored a bucket with 4:21 left. But the damage was done when the Hogs made 4 of their final 19 shots (21.1 percent) in the half and trailed 34-24 at the break.

"You know that if you make a lot of those shots, you're in the game or you're in a better position," said guard Jonathon Modica, who scored 2 points on 1 of 3 shooting. "We didn't do that and it messes with your confidence."

Brewer said Arkansas did a decent job of attacking Tennessee's zone, but simply couldn't make shots Thursday. There's no doubt the Hogs had plenty of open looks.

Backup guard Dontell Jefferson missed an open 3-point attempt with the Hogs trailing 17-13. A little later, Olu Famutimi missed a 3, forward Charles Thomas missed a putback and Darian Townes missed another on the same possession. Sharpshooter Michael Jones missed a 3. Seconds later, Famutimi missed another.

The Hogs were 0 of 7 from behind the 3-point line, turned the ball over 9 times and scored just two second-chance points in the first half. It didn't improve much after the break and Arkansas finished 1 of 13 behind the 3-point line.

Hawgs Daily Top Stories