Brewer's Fling Launches UA Rout of Eagles

FAYETTEVILLE -- It wasn't just any buzzer-beating shot.

Ronnie Brewer's 23-foot turnaround jumper to end the first half of Arkansas' 77-35 victory over Southern Mississippi on Wednesday night merits more description than that.

Hogs coach Stan Heath had called timeout with 20.7 seconds left, not so much to pad a 36-21 lead as to work on last-minute situations as he's done all season.

The initial offensive foray was unsuccessful, as Jonathon Modica missed a corner jumper with eight seconds left and Southern Miss grabbed the rebound. But after Golden Eagles guard Courtney Beasley traveled with 1.8 ticks left, Heath yelled "Ball side!" and signaled an inbounds play.

Brewer took the short pass with his back to the basket, gained elevation as he twisted around in the air and let fly. The 3-pointer hit nothing but net.

The outmanned Eagles (1-4), who had shortened the game and played about as well as they could, slunk to the dressing room trailing 39-21. They never recovered.

"That killed them," Modica said. "You could tell the way they went to the locker room. That play just shows what an exciting player Ronnie is."

Charles Thomas' breakaway dunk with 10 minutes, 22 seconds left in the game put Arkansas up 61-27. Vincent Hunter's 3 made it 70-30 at 5:16.

The Razorbacks (4-2) looked much sharper in their second post-Maui game than they had in a jet-lagged 75-55 win over Radford on Saturday.

They had just three turnovers and three fouls in the first half, while limiting Southern Miss to eight field goals in that period. The starting Hogs inside combination of 7-foot Steven Hill and 6-10 Darian Townes (14 points, 5 rebounds) meant a mostly impenetrable middle against the shorter Golden Eagles.

Still, Southern Miss made a game of it for about 10 minutes, managing an 11-11 tie until Eric Ferguson drained a 3 for Arkansas. At 14-13, Townes and Brewer recorded back-to-back slams. Brewer's 3 made it 21-13 and the rout was on.

Brewer had 15 of his game-high 16 points by halftime, including 3-of-5 treys.

He described his halftime buzzer-beater this way: "Dontell Jefferson made a good pass and I got a good screen from Charles Thomas. I had to adjust my shot in the air because a guy played to my right hand. I knew there wasn't much time left. I was turning while I was going up."

Southern Miss second-year coach Larry Eustachy walked along the sidelines with the pained expression of a man who used to have very good talent (at Iowa State) and wished he did again. Give him time and he probably will.

"This may sound crazy, but in spite of the score I'm optimistic about our team," Eustachy said. "I think Arkansas is a Top-20 team, an NCAA Tournament team. They play like Michigan State -- very hard and very physical."

The Hogs shot 58.3 percent against the Eagles' zone defense, moving Eustachy to say, "Arkansas shoots better than the stats indicate, but they'll see some zones this year and they'll have to step up and hit shots."

Arkansas' free throw shooting (.687 entering the game) was nothing to write home about, as the Hogs made just 13 of 22 for 59.1 percent, but on this night it didn't matter.

Perhaps the brightest spot was the play of Hunter in just his second game after a knee injury. The 6-10 sophomore moved well, scored 10 points in 19 minutes on 4-of-5 shooting and snagged four rebounds.

"Hey, he played well," Heath said. "Vincent did a lot of little things. He had putbacks and defended real well. It's good to see him out there. Whether he plays two minutes or 20, he gives 100 percent. I love his energy."

Jefferson, who scored just two points but had eight assists and no turnovers for Arkansas, said, "Our legs came back to us tonight."

Modica, who scored 14 points with four assists and one turnover, agreed with Jefferson.

"I felt good and my legs felt better," Modica said. "We played hard and played together. I was fortunate to get some open shots and I made them. Now we have to put this behind us, move on and get prepared to play Missouri on Friday night."

Heath said, "I thought we played really well. We passed very well and shot very well. A lot of times, good passing leads to good shooting."

Thomas, who felt a twinge in his knee on Tuesday, did not start for the first time this season but still had nine points in 16 minutes.

"I knew we would start the two big guys and that concerned me a little because Southern Miss played a small lineup and I knew we'd have to chase them some," Heath said.

But except for reserve Shawn Simpson's 11 points and Beasley's 10, no other Golden Eagle managed more than six points.

Simpson also snared 10 rebounds for a double-double, helping Southern Miss match Arkansas 32-32 on the boards.

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