Hogs' Hill Blocks Persistent Bobcats

FAYETTEVILLE -- On a night when Arkansas seemed a half-step slow and its fans half asleep, 7-foot center Steven Hill blocked a school record-tying 10 shots to help the Hogs hold off pesky Texas State 73-67 before just 8,478 souls in Bud Walton Arena.

Both coaches pointed to Hill as the difference.

"Steven was a one-man wrecking crew," said UA coach Stan Heath. "We needed every one of his blocked shots. Texas State was shot-faking, and he timed it perfectly."

Bobcats coach Dennis Nutt said about Hill, "We couldn't get through him or around him. He's such a force in there. He's so strong, our guys couldn't maneuver either."

Ronnie Brewer led the Hogs (6-2) in scoring with 22 points, followed by Jonathon Modica with 14 and Eric Ferguson with 11 off the bench.

Reserve guard Lance Burroughs led Texas State (0-6) with 13 points including 3-of-3 from 3-point range. JuShay Rockett and 6-foot-9 center Trevor Cook added 11 points each.

The Bobcats, who trailed 37-29 at halftime, made an eye-popping 12-of-19 3-point tries and trailed just 71-67 until Modica made two free throws with 20 seconds remaining.

"We've always been a good defensive team against 3-point shots," Heath said, "but we'd better tighten that up because our next opponent (Missouri State on Dec. 15) is a big-time 3-point shooting team."

The Bobcats' bench outscored Arkansas' reserves 36-18, and made 8-of-8 3-pointers, including two by Jeremy Johnson from the painted Hog's snout.

By contrast, Arkansas made just 7-of-20 threes, with Ferguson's 3-of-5 leading the way.

Ferguson also had three assists on Brewer slam dunks in the second half.

"Me and Ronnie have been playing together for three years," Ferguson said. "A couple of games ago I wouldn't have had the confidence to make those passes. The second one wasn't supposed to go to Ronnie, but I saw him wide open and just threw it to him."

Hill, besides tying Oliver Miller's single-game record for blocked shots, had a career-high nine rebounds plus six points in 35 minutes, as Arkansas outrebounded Texas State 35-30.

Modica had five rebounds, including a big defensive board moments after replacing Ferguson with 28.5 seconds left. Modica also had a steal and two free throws in the late going.

"Coach Heath asked me if I could get a stop and I said, 'Yes,'" Modica said. "So he put me back in there and I'm glad I responded."

Heath, who earlier had substituted Vincent Hunter for Modica on defense, admitted, "I wasn't sure about the (Modica-for-Ferguson) move. But I want Modica to be a guy we can play in those situations. I wanted to give him that chance, and also because I wanted him shooting free throws."

Modica made two but missed two in the final seconds, after Arkansas had also missed two one-and-ones in the final 37.6 seconds.

"We've got to step up and make those," Modica said.

Heath gave Texas State credit for executing well and establishing its tempo, resulting in some Arkansas defensive breakdowns late in possessions.

At the same time, he said, "I was not real happy with our performance. We didn't play to the level we should, and that's on me. Maybe it's final exams (approaching) -- I don't know."

Arkansas' eight-day layoff seems timely, since Darian Townes suffered a sprained knee, Charles Thomas a sprained ankle and Brewer a bruised knee tendon in Tuesday's game.

Thomas, who extended his consecutive-makes streak to 12 field goals before missing, returned to the game but had just three points in 16 minutes. Townes scored eight points, all in the first seven minutes. He played just 12 minutes -- 3 in the second half.

"We'll know more tomorrow on Darian," Heath said. "But he was walking after the game. Hopefully it will be good news."

Dontell Jefferson had eight assists in 35 minutes for Arkansas.

Neither Sean McCurdy nor Cyrus McGowan, Arkansas' two freshmen, played.

Brewer, who said he hit "knee to knee" with a Bobcat, called it "just a bruise, I think."

Brewer also said, "It was definitely a lot closer game than we expected. I don't think we played our best basketball, but Texas State showed a lot of heart."

Antwoine Blanchard, a Bobcats freshman from Little Rock, had nine points and five assists in 26 minutes.

"I was proud of our effort," Nutt said. "We hung in there. Arkansas is pretty balanced. I think Stan has done a great job with his team."

Heath might appreciate the compliment, but he said, "I expect this game to get our attention."

The Hogs will practice today and whenever they can around finals.

Hawgs Daily Top Stories