It's been a tough couple of days for the Nutt brothers.
First of all, University of Arkansas head football coach Houston Nutt and running backs coach Danny Nutt found out on Monday that Springdale quarterback Mitch Mustain was reopening his recruitment and no longer pledged to the Razorbacks.
The next night their little brother Dennis - despite one of his Texas State team's better efforts of the season and some solid 3-point shooting - watched his squad narrowly miss what would have been a monumental upset and fall to 0-6.
Ronnie Brewer had 22 points, Jonathon Modica 14 and 7-0 center Steven Hill blocked a school record-tying 10 shots Tuesday night before 8,478 fans at Bud Walton Arena.
"I would never say this in front of my team, but the guys are swamped with academic work right now," Heath said. "A lot of them have work that needs to be turned in and that wears on you mentally. I looked out there and thought our guys looked slow. That's mental fatigue. You don't want guys to think like that. If you come out here on the court, you still need to play."
It was the last game for the Razorbacks for nine days as they are about to begin finals.
Eric Ferguson had 11 points, Dontell Jefferson added a game-high 8 assists and Hill 6 points and 9 rebounds for Arkansas (6-2), who shot 49 percent from the field while Texas State was bombing in 11 3-pointers.
"They averaged 20 turnovers a game and tonight they had 10," Heath said. "That's partly us and partly them. They are shooting 30 percent on threes for the season and historically we are one of the better 3-point shooting defensive teams in our league. Tonight they make 63 percent for the game and 75 percent in the second half. I think they have been playing hard, but the difference is they hit shots tonight."
The visitors had to hit from the outside because of Hill's dominence inside according to Nutt.
"We couldn't fight through him, around him or over him," Nuitt said. "He was so strong. He really anchored down their interior defense. C.J. Webster was a little too persistent. He has been hurt and is not 100 percent and Hill really made it tough on him."
Hill, who said he had 15 blocks in high school a few times "against some small schools" said he welcomed all the opportunities.
"I became a shot blocker last year and I am continuing with that," Hill said. "Well, every guy I guarded I had six inches on. They kept coming. Fortunately I stayed out of foul trouble."
Modica said his team - especially the guards - did not play good defense but was fortunate to have Hill back there.
Arkansas appeared to be taking control of the game when Ferguson hit a 3-pointer right before halftime and then Modica and Brewer each added one and Brewer a dunk to put the Razorbacks up 45-31 with 17:19 remaining.
But just as in Friday night's 66-63 home win over Missouri, Arkansas let Texas State get it back into the game.
"They hit a lot of big time shots and I give them credit," Modica said. "They kept shooting with confidence. We didn't get to the shooter on defense. We didn't stop penetration and we didn't rebound. We didn't play our best, but we won and we go into the break with a victory."
Brewer said he is stunned that Texas State doesn't have a win this season.
"They made tough shots in the first half late in the shot clock," Brewer said. "They played resilient basketball. They knocved down shots and played with heart. They didn't look like an 0-5 team to me. Give them credit. They played really, really hard."
The Bobcats got within six points on a trio of occassions late, including former Little Rock Parkview star Antwoine Blanchard knocking down a 3-pointer with just under three minutes left to close it to 69-63.
Texas State then got within 71-67 when Jushay Rocket scored low with 1:33 remaining in the game.
It could have gotten even closer after Arkansas failed on its offensive end, but Hill's 10th block kept the score the same.
"He had it at the free throw line and tried to take it to the basket, but I moved my feet and stayed with him," Hill said. "He went up and I was able to get it."
The Razorbacks then missed four free throws down the stretch but the two Modica made withl 20 seconds put the game away.
Along with Hill, Ferguson played a key role after struggling earlier in the season.
"I've been telling people that Eric Ferguson would be fine and he gave us a great spark tonight," Modica said. "He got in his groove tonight. This is the start of something good for him I think."
Ferguson, who missed time because of broken nose and then had to play in a mask, said it's a matter of just getting more playing time."
"Coach Heath gave me longer periods of playing time tonight," Ferguson said. "In the past few games he has been taking me in and out. Today it was mostly in. I was feeling the game and was confident tonight."
Ferguson also was suspended for a DWI during the preseason.
With what I have been through I take it one day at a time now," Ferguson said. "I talk a lot to my family and its getting better."
Arkansas suffered a trio of injuries during the game, including Darian Townes having to set out most of the second half and Brewer and Thomas both missing time after intermission.
"Darian is the most serious," Heath said. "It's a sprained knee. He couldn't play with his injury. Charles and Ronnie could. The good news is with the time we had off they should be fine with some treatment."
The Razorbacks will now take nine days off before returning to the court next Thursday, Dec. 15 when they host Missouri State, the school formerly known as Southwest Missouri State.
"You look over at our bench, Townes got a bruised knee, Thomas got got a swollen ankle and I got a swollen knee," Brewer said. " It's a good time to be going into a break."
Arkansas center Steven Hill had a career-high 10 blocks on Tuesday night.
Arkansas 73, Texas State 67
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