Prophetic Brewer Sparks Red To Win

FAYETTEVILLE -- Ronnie Brewer has never scored more than 23 points in an official game for Arkansas, but he made a bold prediction before Saturday's Red-White game.

"He told me he was going to score at least 30," said Dontell Jefferson, Brewer's roommate.

That turned out to be a little modest.

Brewer scored 16 points in the first half to help the Red take a 47-32 lead, then switched sides at halftime and poured in 22 more for the White, for a total of 38.

The Red refused to get rattled and still won 87-72 in an exhibition game that generally pleased coach Stan Heath.

"We've got a lot of work to do, but I saw a lot of positives," Heath said.

Besides Brewer's vintage effort, Darian Townes had 26 points and 13 rebounds in 40 minutes for the White; Preston Cranford scored 17 points; Jonathon  Modica notched 14 of his 18 points in the second half for the Red; Dontell Jefferson had a career game with 16 points for the Red; Charles Thomas and Vincent Hunter scored 13 and 12 respectively; and 7-foot center Steven Hill had 10 points and 9 rebounds.

An appreciative crowd of 6,733 watched in Bud Walton Arena.

"It's all good," Brewer said.

Well, all but the defense which sagged a bit near the end.

Even the free-throw shooting was improved. The more aggressive Red team, which got 14 chances in the first half, finished 16-of-21 for 76.2 percent from the line, while the White shot 72.7 percent on 8-of-11.

"We knew the Red team should have a little edge," Heath said. "I felt a big key was how well Jefferson and Sean McCurdy would handle the pressure for the Red against Eric  Ferguson and Gary Ervin."

Although Heath had to remind Jefferson and McCurdy at halftime that they had one assist between them, both point guard candidates played solid.

"Sean had three assists and no turnovers for the game," Heath said. "He's not going to back away from anyone. And Dontell played his best game in a Razorback uniform."

Brewer set the tone by scoring the Red's first nine points in the first 3 minutes, 4 seconds. He was 6-of-9 from 3-point range in the game.

"I knew I was going to come out and be aggressive," Brewer said.

He made enough difficult shots that Heath said, "I'd like to see him get some easier baskets throughout the year."

Brewer must have inspired Cranford, who made his first five 3-point tries despite switching from the White to the Red at halftime.

"Preston was the surprise of the day," Heath said. "He shot the ball very well and created space for his teammates."

Thomas had a fast start, with 11 of his 13 points in the first half for the Red, including three dunks.

"Coach (Dan) Hipsher told me to take the ball to the hole and finish strong," Thomas said. "Right now, I'm just enjoying the game and playing hard."

Hunter, advised beforehand by Heath that he would play both power forward and small forward this season, responded with 5-of-8 shooting, plus seven rebounds.

"We're a little short on wing men, so I can play the 3, too," Hunter said.

And he can shoot the 3 (2-of-4).

Heath said Hunter looked comfortable Saturday, despite sitting out last season with an injury.

McCurdy felt comfortable, too, in his first live action in Walton Arena.

"It was amazing," he said. "There's no feeling like it. I was not nervous at all."

By contrast, Hogs freshman forward Cyrus McGowan (0 points, 4 rebounds) said, "Of course I was nervous. I'd heard all the stories about this arena. But it was great."

Townes matched Brewer's 16 first-half points, but said afterwards, "The team has a lot of stuff to work on. We've got to cut down our turnovers and take care of the ball. I've got to cut down my turnovers when they double me in the post."

While the Red had just 11 turnovers, the White committed 20, including 6 by Townes and 8 by Ervin. But Ervin, who is redshirting this season, did have 10 assists.

Heath said he planned to rotate 10 or 11 players in a home exhibition against Southwest (Mo.) Baptist on Friday, but that number could eventually drop to nine, plus a specialist or two.

"One thing is we need to push the ball harder and get more baskets in transition," Heath said.

Jefferson had as many turnovers (two) as assists, but did display a variety of scoring moves.

"It's a confidence thing," he said. "I try to go to the basket and finish strong. I played a little 2 guard and I tried to relieve Sean at point guard when he needed a break. I'll just play hard, whatever spot I'm in."

Hawgs Daily Top Stories