Arkansas Tries To Bounce Back From Maui

FAYETTEVILLE -- With the exception of a little jet lag, Arkansas should be ready to return to the basketball court today.

After going 1-2 in the EA Sports Maui Invitational, the Razorbacks return to action when they meet Radford University at 3:05 p.m. today in Bud Walton Arena.

Arkansas, which returned home Thursday afternoon, held a closed practice Friday in preparation for the Highlanders.

"Our legs were a little wobbly, but between stretching, fluids and rest, we should be OK," said Razorbacks coach Stan Heath. "They always say playing 24 to 48 hours after a trip like that is dangerous. We went about an hour and 15 minutes today (Friday) and worked on some key things we might see.

"We didn't get a lot into the things we need to attack from the tournament. Really good teams don't overlook anybody. If we've matured like I think, we should be ready."

This is the first-ever meeting between Arkansas (2-2) and Radford (3-1).

Heath said he's familiar with the Highlanders, who play in the Big South Conference. Arkansas' most recent game against a Big South opponent came last year in the first game of the Paradise Jam Tournament when it beat Winthrop 72-49.

"We've watched them three times on film," Heath said. "They've had good wins against Bowling Green, Tennessee State ... they have won three in a row.

"It's a team that plays very fast, they shoot the ball very quick, they've got good ball skills. They don't have tremendous size and that's where we have to take advantage.

"They are playing good basketball right now. I think they are playing with a lot of confidence."

Radford features two players --Whit Holcomb-Faye and Chris Oliver --who provide most of the scoring punch.

Holcomb-Faye is averaging 22 points per game, Oliver is scoring 17.3 points and leads the team with 7.5 rebounds per game.

Junior guard Ronnie Brewer leads Arkansas with a 22.8 scoring average. Backcourt sidekick Jonathon Modica is averaging 12 points per game.

The Razorbacks, too, might have the services of 6-foot-10 forward Vincent Hunter, who has been sidelined with a left knee injury.

"It's my decision (whether or not he plays Saturday)," Heath said. "He's not 100 percent. There are two sides -- he can play through it and we can try to get him ready or we can rest him.

"We'll watch him Saturday to see how he moves around."

Arkansas, too, seems to be playing with a little more confidence. It lost it's first game in the Maui Invitational against Connecticut (77-68), then beat Kansas (65-64) and finished with a 75-62 loss against Maryland.

"We would have loved to play better in Hawaii, but I think we did a good job," Brewer said. "That was a big win against Kansas. In the past, we would not win a close game like that. Not that we have, we know we can do it.

"We just have to come out and play hard Saturday."

Arkansas point guard Dontell Jefferson said playing in Hawaii, against three quality teams can only help in the future.

"Oh, for sure, I think it helped us a lot," Jefferson said. "We played against some of the toughest competition in the country. Now, we are looking forward to playing in front of our home crowd again.

"That's exciting."

While he saw improvement, Heath said his team could play better.

"We're not satisfied with a 1-2 record, but we felt except for the first five or six minutes of the Connecticut game and the last five or six of the Maryland game, we played pretty good. We have to rebound and play better defense. We will clean up those things and get better.

"Arkansas, Arizona, Michigan State and Maryland all won one Division I game. That puts it in perspective.

"I think we held our own."

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