Arkansas 66, UTPA 38

In its first game in nine days, cold-shooting Arkansas eventually shakes off some post-Christmas sluggishness to rout UTPA 66-38 before 14,734 fans at Bud Walton Arena.

Chances are that not much - if any - of the first 26 minutes of Friday's night's University of Arkansas basketball game will make it onto the Razorbacks' season-ending highlight tape.

But the Razorbacks did manage to shake off their post-Christmas sluggishness toward the middle of the second half and went on to whip a hapless University of Texas-Pan American squad 66-38 before 14,734 fans at Bud Walton Arena.

Jonathon  Modica had 14 points and 8 rebounds, freshman guard Sean McCurdy 10 points and Darian Townes 8 points and a game-high 12 rebounds as Arkansas (10-2) won its eighth straight game despite struggling out of the gate in its first game in nine days.

"We did get off to a slow start and didn't make shots and that made it appear uglier than it was," Arkansas head coach Stan Heath said. "But I thought we played great defense for the entire 40 minutes."

Vincent Hunter added 9 points and Steven Hill 8 of his team's 12 blocks for Arkansas, who will close out its nonconference season with a game against Western Illinois on Sunday night at 7:35 p.m.

"We were a little down on ourselves because we know we were a better team than we showed tonight," Modica said. "Three-point shooting is a big concern for us. We have got to be able to stretch the defense and take the pressure off the big men."

SEC preseason player of the year Ronnie Brewer, battling the flu, had a season-low 2 points and three turnovers in 21 minutes of action.

"We had a few guys battling the flu bug, especially Ronnie Brewer," Heath said. "I've had it as well and I think I may have given it to some of the guys."

Derrick East had 10 points to lead the Broncs (2-12), who scored a season-low in points and failed to score at least 58 points for the fifth straight game.

Arkansas, which ended up shooting 35 percent overall, scored 47 points in the second half after leading just 19-12 at halftime.

The Razorbacks shot just 25 percent from the floor and the Broncs 20 (the two teams were a woeful 12-of-53 shooting combined in the opening half ) and each committed more turnovers (9 each) than made field goals before the break.

"I told our team there were 14,000 fans ou there who showed up when I thought there would only be 5 or 6,000," Heath said. "I told them we were not playing the way we should and they needed to get back out there and take care of that."

It was a complete team effort in the first half as far as shooting futility."Days like this are going to happen," Townes said. "Our defense was superb in both halves.

"Days like this are going to happen," Townes said. "Our defense was superb in both halves. The game started off slow and we just couldn't find the right moment to take the game away. Our shots were just not falling."

The most memorable moment of the first half happened when the clock was stopped.

Just 41 seconds into the game and after diving into a pile and hitting his head, Charles Thomas had to be helped to his feet. He took a few steps and went back down face first as a hush fell over the crowd.

That happened with just 41 seconds into the game. Thomas went to the locker room at that point, but came back out with 9:44 remaining in the half and was back in the game and scoring just 24 seconds later.

"We thought it was just a little bump on the head, but it go scary there for minute when he got up and then fell back down," Heath said. "He was just a little dazed and is going to be okay."

Arkansas led just 27-17 with 14:30 left in the game before Eric  Ferguson started a 19-4 run by the Razorbacks with a lay-up and McCurdy capped it with another to push his team ahead 46-21 with 9:28 left in the game.

The Razorbacks took their largest lead of the game on Hunter's 3-pointer that made it 60-31 with just over two minutes left and Preston Cranford capped the scoring with a 3-point bomb from the corner with 16 seconds remaining.

Arkansas ended up shooting 39 percent overall and forcing 25 turnovers from UTPA.

UTPA coach Robert Davenport compared Arkansas to Illinois, who beat the Broncs 71-59.

"Arkansas is a very good team," Davenport said. "They are as good as Illinois. Arkansas is a very athletic and talented team, probably more than Illinois."

Darian Townes reaches down for a loose ball in Arkansas' win over Texas-Pan American on Friday night.

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