Hogs Can Pan-Am

FAYETTEVILLE -- As strange as Arkansas' 19-12 halftime lead looked on the way to a 66-38 win over Texas-Pan American on Friday night in Bud Walton Arena, Broncs coach Robert Davenport still sang the Razorbacks' praises afterwards.

"I'd say Arkansas is every bit as good as Illinois, the best team we've played," Davenport said. "Illinois is a little more savvy, but Arkansas is as athletic, or more athletic than Illinois."

It's just that in the first half, while blocking nine of UTPA's 25 shots, Arkansas (10-2) made only 7 of 28 shots itself.

Jonathon Modica, who led the Hogs with 14 points, voiced the common frustration.

"It wasn't very exciting," Modica said. "We weren't very efficient on offense, and we were a little down on ourselves. It just felt like we were out of sync. But the good thing about this game is we played good defensively."

The Broncs (2-12) shot just 29.8 percent while losing their 10th straight game.

They limited Ronnie Brewer to two points -- which matched his career low from his final game as a freshman against South Carolina two seasons ago -- but Brewer was under the weather and played just 21 minutes.

"We wanted to slow Brewer down and make it a low-scoring game," Davenport said. "In the first half we did that. In the second half, the sheer physicality of Arkansas dominated the game. Their better athletes took over."

Derrick East was the only Bronc in double figures, with 13 points.

"Here is what I liked -- we rebounded and defended our butts off the whole game," said Hogs coach Stan Heath. "We didn't make shots in the first half and that frustrated us. I wasn't concerned. I knew we'd come back in the second half. I just told our players that our (14,734) fans deserved a good performance."

Arkansas outrebounded Texas-Pan American 46-33, with Darian Townes getting 12 rebounds for the Razorbacks.

"At least we jelled in the second half," Townes said. "We didn't fold."

Freshman guard Sean McCurdy gave Arkansas a spark with a career-high 10 points and 0 turnovers in 14 minutes off the bench.

"I like the way he played," Heath said. "In the second half he was forcing an aggressive tempo. He did a nice job. He's a great luxury to have."

Arkansas forward Charles Thomas gave everyone a scare when he took a blow above the right eye in the first minute of the game, then collapsed after he tried to get back up.

He eventually returned to the game and had seven points and six rebounds in 10 minutes.

"The only thing I remember is waking up on the floor," Thomas said. "I was pretty dizzy for awhile and my vision was blurred. (The collision) knocked all the food out of my teeth; I won't have to brush my teeth tonight."

Steven Hill blocked eight shots for Arkansas, and Heath said that number might have gone to 15 if Texas-Pan American had kept going at Hill.

"I think our defense was pretty good," Hill understated. "Blocked shots have always come naturally to me. I had two steals, too. Not very often do I get to trap on defense."

The biggest cheer for Hill came after he made a right-handed hook shot for his only two points.

Heath praised the fans for coming out, and encouraged them to return for Sunday's 7:35 p.m. game against Western Illinois.

"I'm really excited about the crowd," he said. "I didn't know if anybody would show up tonight. We won by 28. I wish it would have been 28 in the first half. But we take wins, we like wins."

The Hogs now have eight wins in a row, with one more in prospect before heading to Starkville, Miss., for their Southeastern Conference opener against Mississippi State on Jan. 7.

"I would definitely feel like we would be more motivated on Sunday," Modica said.

Vincent Hunter, who entered the game with 19 minutes, 19 seconds left in the first half when Thomas got hurt, scored nine points for Arkansas and showed some slithery moves underneath.

Davenport credited Heath with doing a great job of bringing Arkansas back to a competitive level.

"They're going to raise some eyebrows in the SEC," he predicted.

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