Inside Game Helps Hogs Take Down Radford

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas sophomore forward Charles Thomas knew that playing in last week's Maui Invitational in Hawaii would help the Razorbacks.

Saturday against Radford, he figured out how.

"It helped us improve our inside game, it helped us rebound better and get quick put-backs," Thomas said. "Going to Hawaii, where there were a lot of experienced players and just the atmosphere of the big-time tournament, just playing three games in four days really helped tremendously. I mean, that's what the NCAA tournament is all about, so we needed that experience because it'll give us a heads up on what to expect."

Thomas and sophomore Darian Townes combined for 20 points and 14 rebounds against the Highlanders, helping the Razorbacks take control underneath the basket -- especially in the first half -- for a 75-55 victory at Bud Walton Arena.

"Our problem was we didn't make shots," Radford coach Byron Samuels said. "Our two mistakes were allowing easy buckets on transition and easy buckets off the glass."

In the first half, Arkansas had 28 points in the paint compared to Radford's six and also had eight second-chance points, giving the Hogs a 17-point halftime lead.

By the end of the game, it was much of the same as the Hogs finished with 44 points inside the paint compared to Radford's 22.

"Points in the paint are very valuable for us," said senior guard Jonathon  Modica, who contributed with 22 points and 6 rebounds. "It gives us a chance to beat teams on the inside and also get to the foul line and shoot free throws, which often determine who wins the game.

"Our offense just seems to flow a little bit better when the ball goes inside."

Although Arkansas held Radford to only 25 percent shooting from the floor and also outrebounded it 46-42, Arkansas coach Stan Heath was a little displeased with how his team played, saying the Highlanders were often quicker to the ball on rebounds.

"Ugly wins are better than pretty losses," Heath said. "Obviously, our size and some of the things we have in athleticism just allow us to overmatch them in some areas. We struggled rebounding and they were quicker to the ball. We didn't get as many transition baskets as we needed to get.

"But we held them to 20-something percent from the field, so that's pretty good defense. I saw some positives."

Arkansas' 46 rebounds (30 on defense and 16 on offense) were also the most it has had this season, with the second highest being 44 against Portland State in the Hogs' season-opener Nov. 18.

Thomas, who shot 4 of 4 from the field for 7 points, also tied his season-high of 7 rebounds, which he also reached against Portland State.

"All games in basketball are won from the inside out," Thomas said, "And that's what coach Heath has been telling us all along. We knew that being successful inside is what we have to do to win games, so that's how we're going to keep on trying -- by dominating with our inside game."

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