Really the only chance Southwest Baptist had of making this game close was if Ronnie Brewer and a few of his teammates had switched squads at halftime.
Brewer, who did just that in last week's Red-White game, poured in 16 of his game-high 22 points Friday night as the Razorbacks rolled the Division II Bearcats 86-49 in an exhibition before a crowd of 10,243 fans Friday night at Bud Walton Arena.
"For an exhibition game Southwest Baptist really came out aggressive," Arkansas head coach Stan Heath said. "I didn't realize how physical a team they would be. They fought through screens and that was good for us because we responded. Our defense was pretty good for the most part and our offense was very efficent early on."
Arkansas easily secured the victory by roaring to a 31-9 advantage in the opening half and led 70-28 at one point after intermission.
That was despite not having two of its better players in sophomore center Darian Townes (sprained toe) - who had 26 points and 13 rebounds in the Red-White game - and senior guard Eric Ferguson (broken nose).
"They gave us a butt whippin," Southwest Baptist head coach Jeff Guiot said afterwards. "After you get a spanking you are more likely to listen and if our team does that then is a blessing we played in this game."
Sophomore power forward Charles Thomas - who started in the place of Townes -and senior guard Jonathon "Pookie" Modica both added 15 points, redshirt sophomore Vincent Hunter 10 in the first of the Razorbacks' two exhibition games.
Modica just missed a double-double with 9 rebounds while Thomas had 5 rebounds and 7-0 sophomore center Steven Hill 8 points, 4 rebounds and 4 blocks.
The point guard tandem of freshman Sean McCurdy (8 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists) and senior Dontell Jefferson (6 points, 5 assists, 5 rebounds) combined for 14 points and 7 assists on a night when Arkansas shot 47 percent from the field (26-of-55) and 72.1 percent (31-of-43) from the line.
They also had just three turnovers combined in 53 total minutes of action between themselves with both also playing shooting guard some with Ferguson out.
"I've really got to hand it to those two guys," Brewer said. "They really take a lot of the pressure off me and are doing a great job at getting us in the offense, handling the pressure and getting some done with their offense also. It's going to make us a much better team."
Brewer was 8-of-15 from the field, knocked down a pair of 3-pointers and connected on all four of his free throws.
"I was trying to be aggressive," Brewer said. "My teammates found me and they set good screens to get me open."
Brewer also had 5 steals, 3 rebounds and 2 assists on a night when the Razorbacks forced 25 turnovers and committed 18 of their own - many of them coming late against a team they overmatched.
"I thought we played pretty well and did a lot of good things, especially without two of our top guys," Brewer said. "We had some other guys really step up. But we have a lot of improving to do and we'll got back and watch the film and find things that you need to work on like our fast break, on our presses. A lot of different things, but I think we did pretty well offensively and defensively."
Southwest Baptist point guard Sheldon Pace, who had six points and six turnovers, said it was hard to get much done against Arkansas' defense.
"Their defense makes it hard to swing the ball and made us a run our offense from a distance," Pace said. "They keep the ball on one side of the court and they keep pressure on hard the whole game."
Arkansas took control of the game with a 17-0 run that was capped by Brewer's 3-pointer that boosted the Razorbacks to a 31-9 lead - the final of his 14 points during the run that came in just a matter of four minutes.
That meant Brewer - the SEC's Preseason Player of the Year - had outscored the foes 16-9 by himself to that point.
Modica's three free throws - when he was fouled and Guiot was assessed a technical - got Arkansas up 42-16 with just under two minutes left before intermission, but Prentis Potts' two free throws did get it to within 44-21 at the break.
Thomas had 10 of his 15 points in the opening half.
"I've got a different mentality this year, both on offense and defense," Thomas said.
Perhaps Brewer best summed up Thomas, a 6-8, 240-pounder.
"Charles is a beast inside, on the boards and with the ball," Brewer said.
Dunks by Jefferson and Brewer pushed the lead to 58-24 early on in the second half and that advantage increased to 70-28 when Jefferson scored on a driving layup withover 12 minutes left in the game.
"They are a good, good team," Guiot said. "They are athletic, long and have strong rebounding."
Jason Jemison had 13 points to lead Southwest Baptist, which is located in Bolivar. Oklahoma State transfer Frans Steyn, who is 7-2, had 9 points and 7 rebounds before fouling out.
Arkansas will complete its exhibition slate next Saturday when it hosts LSU-Shreveport in a game that will tip-off at 6:35 p.m. before opening its season Nov. 18 against visiting Portland State and then traveling to play in a load Maui Invitational Tournament Nov. 21-23.
Arkansas 86, SW Baptist 49
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