At halftime of Saturday afternoon's basketball game between the University of Arkansas and visiting Radford, former Tennessee assistant and current Highlanders head coach Byron Samuels didn't try to hide his feelings.
Right before going on with the visiting team's radio crew, he pronounced in very colorful language as reporters nearby listened on that his team was getting cheated and that Arkansas was in trouble if it had to do that to beat his team.
Must have really cheated in the second half.
Jonathon "Pookie" Modica had 22 points and 6 rebounds and Ronnie Brewer 16 points, 5 assists and 4 rebounds as the jet-lagged Razorbacks topped Radford 75-55 before 9,928 fans at Bud Walton Arena.
"It wasn't pretty, but it was a win," Arkansas head coach Stan Heath said. "I was worried about this game from the beginning. I knew our focus and our legs would be questionable. We defended well, but rebounded poorly. Give Radford credit. They played hard. We knew they weren;t just going to lie down."
Charles Thomas added 12 points and 7 rebounds, Darian Townes 8 points and 7 rebounds while Dontell Jefferson was scorless but dished out 8 assists for Arkansas (3-2), who was playing its fifth game in eight days.
The game happened a little more than 48 hours after the Razorbacks returned from playing three games in three days in the Maui Invitational and then flying through the night and getting back in Fayetteville on Thursday.
"We were a little tired, but we knew we would have to get up for this game," Brewer said. "I think fatigue was one of the reasons for the breakdowns today, but we still have to be strong to be successful."
Radford (3-2), whose team opened its season with a loss to Virginia Tech and then double-digit wins over Western Carolina , Bowling Green and East Tennnessee St.
Dan Ross, who had 30 points while hitting 7-of-9 3-pointers in his last game, was held to just four by Modica on a day when the Highlanders shot just 24.6 percent (16-of-65) from the field.
"I'm proud of my kids and how they battled," Samuels said on his post-game radio show. "We didn't back down and we didn't get any breaks. They had every advantage but we stayed in there and fought with them, but we just couldn't make enough shots."
Arkansas shot 46.8 percent from the field, hit 6-of-22 3-pointers and dished out 22 assists while having 15 turnovers while Radford had 11 turnovers.
The Razorbacks did hit only 11-of-19 free throws barely won the board battle 46-42.
"I didn't think it was going to be pretty, but that doesn't mean I am happy about the way that we played," Heath said. "Yes, I am happy for a 20-point win, but I want to see us do a lot of little things better."
It should be noted that Arkansas had just a walk-through practice on Friday and will take its manadated NCAA day off on Sunday.
"We haven't had a chance yet to get things corrected that we have done wrong in Maui and today since we have not been able to practice," Heath said. "In fact, we haven't had a real practice in about a week because of all the games and the flights.
"But we will take off Sunday, get in here early Monday and watch tape and them get out there on the court and have two good days of practice to make some corrections," Heath added.. "I have no doubt we will play better on Wednesday (against visiting Southern Mississippi) because of that."
Modica, who publicly apologized on the post-game radio show for what he percieved as a bad performance on his part in Maui, was very good on Saturday with a season-high in points and showed his old aggressivness but only had 2 turnovers in 26 minutes.
"He played really well," Heath said. "He thought he could have played better. He cut down on his turnovers which got him in a little trouble in Maui. He was selective on his drives, which I was pleased about. he played better all-around."
The Highlanders trailed 10-0 to start the game and were down 33-16 at the break.
It didn't get much better right after intermission as Sean McCurdy's 3-pointer boosted Arkansas ahead 51-28 with just under 13 minutes left in the game and Modica's layup surged the Razorbacks ahead 64-36 at the 9:01 mark.
"We were a little sluggish in the beginning," Modica said. "Our jumpers weren't there. We were a little upset in the middle of the game and we felt like we had to get back on track with a win. We were a little tired, but we played well enough to win. We have to keep strengthening from here."
Radford did reel off a 11-0 run to get within 64-47 with 6:14 left in the game, but Arkansas took a timeout at that point, gathered itself and put its starting five back in and regained control of the game.
"He (Heath) was a little upset," Modica said. "He told us to defend and rebound. We just want to get better and defending and rebounding is a key to that."
Thomas had a basket and a free throw, Brewer a three-point play and then freshman Cyrus McGowan dunked off a feed from Brewer and the Razorbacks were back in charge with a 72-49 lead with just over four minutes left in the game.
Vincent Hunter, who had missed Arkansas' first four games with a knee injury, played and had 5 points, 6 rebounds and 2 blocks in 14 minutes.
Heath got word on Friday that the 6-10 Hunter would be able to play.
"He had two blocked shots and had a great effort," Heath said. "It was good to get him back in the mix and he didn't play shy at all. He is a fun guy to coach."
Hunter was the freshest guy on the court having not played in Maui due to the injury.
"I was excited to suit up and get on the court," Hunter said. "My teammates were kind of tired from the long trip. We have a lot of things to work on, and defense and rebounding are the keys to us being successful this season.
Arkansas returns to the court on Wednesday when it will play Southern Mississippi - coached by former Iowa State head coach Larry Eustachy - in an 8:05 p.m. game that will be televised by Fox Sports Network.
The Razorbacks will then host Missouri on Friday in a 7:05 game, the first of five telecasts by ARSN.
"We will be much better when we get that practice in," Heath said. "I'm looking forward to this next week."
Eric Ferguson guards Radford's Whit Holcomb-Faye.
Arkansas 75, Radford 55
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