MAUI - The consolation prize - a nice parting gift of a game with host Chaminade - was not what either the University of Arkansas or the University of Kansas basketball teams had in mind for their trip here for the Maui Invitational.
Because of Dontell Jefferson's clutch jumper with 18 seconds left and then blocks in the final five seconds by both himself and Kansas-born Steven Hill led Arkansas to a 65-64 win Tuesday afternoon, it's Kansas who will have to suffer that fate instead.
"When we came out of that timeout (with 18 seconds left) we said we were going to switch on all screens and we did a great job of that," said Hill, who was born in Chanute, Kansas and also lived in Pittsburgh. before moving to Branson, Mo.. "When the screen came I just stepped out. It really wasn't that hard and I had a lot of extra arm to get it. It's a real big win for me since I grew up in Kansas and also because it was a big win for us here at Arkansas."
It was not a happy feeling for Kansas guard Mario Chalmers.
"We didn't come here to play Chaminade," Chalmers said. "We came here to play in the championship game, but it didn't work out for us."
While it's not going to work out for Arkansas (2-1) either in terms of the championship game, there is no doubt that it was a big win for the Razorbacks, who will play No. 21 Maryland (2-1) for fifth place Wednesday at 1 p.m.
Not only does it help with RPI down the line when it comes time to give NCAA bids out, closing out a game like this one - when they didn't do that last season - is immeasurable according to Arkansas head coach Stan Heath.
"It's just our maturity and how far we have come from last season to this season," Heath said. "I just have to give a lot of credit to Kansas, who is an outstanding basketball team even though they are young. I just thought both teams made key plays at key times. The kids on the floor just stepped up and made plays."
Brewer had a game-high 23 points, but it was a pass when he was double teamed to Jefferson (13 points, 5 assists, 4 steals) that led to the game-winner.
Jefferson - who also had 5 assists and 4 steals - calmly took the ball in near the free throw line and swished the jumper with 18 seconds left to put Arkansas up 65-64.
"I figured they were going to pay a lot of attention to Ronnie and when I saw my man go to help I just moved to an open area and got the shot," Jefferson said. "It was a nice feeling."
Still the game was not wrapped up as evidenced by the fact that both Jefferson had Hill had to swat away shots before the buzzer sounded.
Jefferson flew at Jeff Hawkins' 3-point attempt and knocked it out of bounds with two seconds left and then the 7-foot Hill smothered Russell Robinson's shot at the buzzer.
"It was really nothing," Hill said. "I just jumped out there, put my hand up and the ball just went sailing away."
Arkansas, which 55-49 with just over five minutes left, had to rally its ownself after falling down 31-27 at intermission.
Brewer got his team started with a pair of 3-pointers, but it was his 4-of-4 free throw shooting when his team was down 60-59 that he was most happy about.
"I worked so hard this summer on that because like Coach Heath said I am going to have the ball in my hands a lot late in the game and I have got to make those," Brewer said. "I was a great feeling."
So was the win, which left Arkansas celebrating on the court.
"It was big for us," Hill said. "We needed it now, we'll need it down the line. Now we just have to go out and build on it against Maryland on Wednesday.
Gonzaga beat Maryland 88-76 on Monday, but the Terps bounced back with a 98-69 win over Chaminade on Tuesday.
Maryland led just 46-44 at halftime before roaring out to a 54-23 advantage in the second half.
"We feel really good about this win, but we have just got to keep coming," Brewer said. "That's what we are going to keep doing."
Jonathon Modica guards Kansas star Brandon Rush.
AP Photo/Michael Conroy
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