Keeping it Simple

Dontell Jefferson says there wasn't much difficult about his record-setting night night of dishing the basketball.

Ho hum, no big deal.

That was the way Dontell Jefferson acted after tying the school record with 15 assists as Arkansas opened the regular season with a 107-69 victory over Portland State on Friday night before 12,354 at Bud Walton Arena.

"I found out about (tying the record) after the game," Jefferson said. "I wasn't really sure until then. I didn't really go back in to do that. It was just that someone had to go back in because Steven Hill fouled out (with 3:05 left)."

That's not exactly the way Arkansas coach Stan Heath explained it. He tried to make sure that Jefferson knew he was one assist short of Kareem Reid's record when he returned him to the game after Hill's foul out.

"I'm not sure how much my guys listen, but I did try to tell him," Heath said. "I don't think it was that big a deal to him."

Jefferson said it was more a case of his teammates finishing in the paint than anything he did.

"My goal this year is to keep it simple and that's what I was trying to do tonight," Jefferson said. "Guys like Darian Townes, Charles Thomas, Ronnie Brewer and Jonathon  Modica were hitting their shots. They finished very well tonight. I just wanted to make sure to get my teammates involved.

"The other thing I am working on is cutting down my turnovers. Don't be flashy. Don't make turnovers. That needs to be my game. I wanted to make sure to keep it simple and that worked out well tonight."

Jefferson did commit four turnovers, but Heath said he'd take the Hogs' 30-to-15 ratio on assists to turnovers any night.

"That's what we are looking for, that kind of unselfish play," Heath said. "Dontell's ratio was good, too."

Ronnie Brewer led the Hogs with 24 points, but it was the play of Charles Thomas that almost everyone was talking about afterwards. Thomas scored 20 points in just 23 minutes. He was bleeding in several spots after diving on the floor and over the media table on two separate hustle plays in the second half, both drawing ovations from the crowd.

"I do like to get the crowd involved," Thomas said. "I don't know who I went over on that one dive over the table. I don't think I landed on anyone. They got out of my way. I got this (pointing to a bloody spot on his nose) on that one. It's good to leave a little skin out there at times. Shows you played."

Told about Jefferson's comments about his big men finishing better, Thomas said, "He's right. I didn't finish like that last year. I wasn't strong enough. We worked so hard this summer and fall on leg lifts. We are much more explosive inside as far as jumping this year. I couldn't finish like that last year.

"We had fun tonight. I think when you play with guys like Darian Townes, Ronnie Brewer and Jonathon Modica, you are going to have fun."

Townes scored 14 points, grabbed a team-best 8 rebounds and blocked 7 shots. He scored two transition buckets when he outran the PSU big men.

"I felt light footed tonight," he said. "I had some bounce. I feel better as far as running on my toe."

Townes is battling back from a sprained toe that forced him to miss the Hogs' first exhibition game.

"I'm not all the way back, maybe 90 percent," Townes said. "I'm probably going to have to get treatment for a little while longer. I have to get treatment a couple of times a day still. I am running better and it doesn't bother me nearly as much."


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