Not even junior Ronnie Brewer's outstanding second half for the White team could overcome the preseason SEC Player of the Year's sparkling first 20 minutes for the Red squad.
Brewer scored 38 points - 16 for the Red in the opening half and 22 for the White after intermission - as the Red toppled the White 87-72 late Saturday afternoon in a University of Arkansas intersquad basketball scrimmage before 6,733 fans at Bud Walton Arena.
Darian Townes had 26 points and a game-high 13 rebounds and fellow sophomore Vincent Hunter 12 points and 7 rebounds for the White team, but the Red was more balanced with senior Jonathon Modica pouring in 18 points, senior Dontell Jefferson 16, sophomore Charles Thomas 13 and sophomore Steven Hill 10 points and 9 rebounds.
"We've got a lot of work to do, but overall I was pleased with our performance," UA head coach Stan Heath said. "I saw a lot of positives and we put a lot of things together. We still have some things to clean up, but overall it was a very nice start to our exhibtion season."
Sophomore sharpshooter Preston Cranford - who redshirted last year and was traded at halftime for Brewer - had 17 points total in the game and knocked down his first five 3-point attempts.
"Preston Cranford was the surprise of the day," Heath said. "He shot the ball very well like we knew he could. He also created space for his teammates."
Brewer - who hit all five of his first-half shots just two days after the media named him the preseason choice as player of the year in the SEC - had 6 3-pointers of his own on a night when he hit 13-of-16 shots from the field overall and 6-of-7 free throw attempts.
"He played very, very well and just scored from a lot of different spots," Heath said. "He's got a chance to have just a great year and that's what we expect from him because he is one of the best players in the country.
Brewer credited the play of Red point guards Dontell Jefferson and Sean McCurdy - who had just two turnovers between them - and White team point guard Gary Ervin (10 assists) for his success.
"It's so much easier for me to have Dontell and Sean playing the point and then having me out there as another guy that can handle the ball," Brewer said. "It just opens up a lot of things for us and really is going to be problems for those trying to play defense against us."
Jefferson took a big step toward shaking off his struggling junior campaign and nabbing the starting point guard spot with his 16-point, 4-rebound, 2-assist performance in which he had just two turnovers in 34 minutes.
"I've gotten my confidence back that I lost last season and have really worked hard on getting stronger and coming back and being a guy this team can count on," Jefferson said. "I want to be the guy my teammates, my coaches and myself know I can be and not the one I was last season when my confidence got shot early."
Brewer, who also had four assists and a pair of rebounds on the day, scored his Red team's first nine points and had them out to a 17-4 lead with just under 15 minutes in the game.
Townes, who had 16 points at the break as did Brewer and was 10-of-16 from the field in the game , kept the White team within striking distance and his bucket at the end of the half cut it to 47-32.
He came back out with Brewer on his squad.
"The Red got to the free throw line 14 times to the White's zero in the first half meaning they weren't being as aggressive and we thought we'd shake it up and get that going a little bit," Heath said.
Brewer had 11 points in just over the first five minutes of the second half to get the White team within 56-47, but the Red team steadied itself and soon had built itself up a 70-49 lead when Jefferson drilled a 3-pointer and Modica followed soon after with a free throw with 10:01 left in the game.
"The White team made a charge at them, but the Red answered and just took care of business and the basketball," Heath said. "I was very glad to see that because I put Dontell and Sean on one team and Gary Ervin and Eric Ferguson on another so they would see some pressure and wanted to see how they would respond."
Jefferson had just the two turnovers while McCurdy was just 1-of-5 from the field, but had 3 assists and no turnovers in 24 minutes of action.
"We've got some positions where we are going to have some depth and players really pushing each other," Heath said.
The White team shot 50.9 percent from the field and the winning Red squad 47.8 percent while the two teams combined to hit 15-of-39 3-pointers and 24-of-32 free throws.
Ervin had 8 turnovers and Townes 6 with the White committing 20 turnovers and the Red team just 11.
Freshman Cyrus McGowan added 6 rebounds while Hill blocked four shots and Hunter 3.
Arkansas will return to the court on Friday night when it hosts Southwest Baptist in the first of two exhibition games before opening the season Nov. 18 against visiting Portland State.
Red 87, White 72
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