Shorthanded Hogs Still Roll To Win

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas played its final exhibition basketball game without two of its better players Saturday night.

Seven-foot sophomore center Steven Hill did not play. Senior guard Eric  Ferguson did not play.

It did not matter.

Arkansas cruised past LSU-Shreveport 120-79 in front of 10,350 fans in Bud Walton Arena during another ho-hum game which was nothing more than a highly publicized pick-up game.

Essentially this one turned into a circus and the only thing missing was a carnival barker.

While Hill and Ferguson watched from the bench in street clothes, the rest of the Razorbacks flirted with burying the Pilots all night long.

Hill was one out with a sore right ankle and Ferguson took a powder not because he broke his nose last week, but because he was told to take chair.

Confused?

"I did not play him for team reasons and personal reasons," said Arkansas coach Stan Heath. "It's one of those team, person things coaches do."

Enough said.

Both are expected back soon.

But ...

The list of hobbled Hogs continued when, with 18 minutes, 16 seconds left in the game, 6-10 redshirt sophomore forward Vincent Hunter was helped off the court with an apparent injured left knee.

Hunter,whose status remains unknown, missed all of last year with injured right shoulder. Heath said Arkansas trainer Dave England believes it might only be a sprain.

Ironically, it was 6-10 Darian Townes, who missed the exhibition game against Southwest Baptist (Mo.) University on Nov. 4 with a sore big toe in his right foot, who crippled the Pilots on Saturday night.

Townes was unstoppable underneath and near the basket. He scored 25 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in 23 minutes.

Jonathon  Modica led Arkansas with 28 points, 11 rebounds and 5 assists. Sophomore forward Charles Thomas finished with 24 points and 8 rebounds while Ronnie Brewer had 15 points and 6 assists and freshman point guard Sean McCurdy had 13 points and 5 assists.

Arkansas shot 59.2 percent from the floor compared to 36 for LSU-Shreveport and outrebounded the Pilots 53-31.

"I thought it was a fun and entertaining game," Heath said. "The first half was fast and furious with a lot of transition. We are trying to adjust to the speed of the game.

"It took a little time, but I thought we settled in and rebounded well. We shot a high percentage form the field and didn't turn the ball over."

Arkansas hit the century mark when Townes took an inside pass from Preston Cranford and shoved it through the nets on a relatively soft slam dunk with 6:52 left in the game.

That put Arkansas ahead 100-70. Turn out the lights, the party's over.

Yeah, buddy.

In the first half, Townes showed no signs of being slowed by a sore toe. He scored 19 points and had 6 rebounds in only 12 minutes. Thomas, his interior sidekick, added 9 points and 4 caroms in the first 20 minutes.

"I tried to not think too much about my toe keeping me out of the last game," Townes said. "If you noticed, though, I did some stretching when I would come out of the game. I feel real healthy right now, but I still need treatment." From the beginning, it was apparent this one was nothing more than a dress rehearsal for the regular-season opener against Portland State at 7:05 p.m. Friday in Bud Walton Arena.

Arkansas got a combined 27 points from Modica and Brewer in the first half. Modica had 17, Brewer 10 in the first 20 minutes.

Arkansas led by as much as 25 points in the first half before taking a 63-44 lead at the break.

"We started getting fast-break points which led to many easy baskets in transition," Brewer said. "Our guard play with Sean (McCurdy) really stepped up and that was a big key for the difference."




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