Hogs Stop Road Skid

AUBURN, Ala. — Arkansas junior Ronnie Brewer picked a good time to score a career-high 26 points and make a career-high 11 free throws.

With the Razorbacks reeling on the road, Brewer helped quell a spirited Auburn second-half comeback and Arkansas won going away, 68-52, before 6,100 fans in Beard-Eaves Coliseum on Saturday.

"I thought Brewer was terrific today," said Auburn coach Jeff Lebo. "He's a difference-maker."

Hogs coach Stan Heath agreed.

"Ronnie is our guy," Heath said. "He's the guy we expect to do things like that."

Arkansas (13-5, 2-3 in the Southeastern Conference) made 21 of 25 free throws for 84 percent, with Brewer making 11 of 14 to set the tone.

Auburn (8-7, 0-4 SEC) led much of the first half and still trailed just 33-29 at intermission despite committing 15 turnovers in 20 minutes.

But Brewer went to the whip in the second half, driving into the paint often and scoring 20 points in the half.

Ron Brewer, Ronnie's UA All-America father who attended the game, said he was proud of his son and happy for all the Razorbacks.

"Ronnie got the ball in the flow today and had a bounce to his step," Ron Brewer said. "He was trying to get that road burden off their shoulders. He knows they're a good ball team, and today they played extremely hard and kept focused. This win lifts a big burden off their chests."

Brewer launched an 11-0 Arkansas run early in the second half with a dunk and a 3-pointer for a 46-36 lead that grew to 52-36. Auburn clawed right back within 52-46 before Brewer scored five straight points on free throws, including 1-of-2 after Lebo's first technical foul at Auburn with 9:27 left.

"I think I've had three (technicals) in my career," Lebo said. "I gave (official Lee Cassell) a little wave, I think."

That was after Lebo had just thrown his coat into the stands.

Auburn guard Ronny LeMelle, who led his team with 16 points, was asked if the Tigers lost focus after the technical foul.

"No, we didn't capitalize on our opportunities," he said.

Auburn hung within 60-52 with a little more than five minutes left, before Arkansas did a good job of spreading the Tigers out and scoring the final eight points.

"We showed a lot of pride and heart," Heath said. "We were tough with the ball and got good shots at the end of the shot clock."

Charles Thomas, who had 12 points and 12 rebounds off the bench for Arkansas, talked about how the Hogs were relaxed and smiling during pregame warmups.

"We just were having fun and not taking things too seriously," Thomas said. "But at the same time, we had a great focus, too. We knew we had to take it up another notch to win this game."

Hogs senior Jonathon  Modica ran the floor well and had a solid game with 17 points.

"At halftime, coach said to slow down and have better patience," Modica said. "We were aggressive, but at the same time we played smart. We grew up a little today, because we stretched our lead right on out. We didn't want to be passive with the lead."

Lebo said the Tigers' 23 turnovers killed them, but Auburn freshman Quantez Robertson (9 points, 6 assists) said there was a reason for that.

"Arkansas plays great team defense," Robertson said. "They jump at the ball and play the passing lanes."

Robertson said Auburn wanted to lure Brewer into 3-point tries against its 1-3-1 zone, but instead "he kept on driving and getting to the foul line and that was the difference."

One game after Arkansas shot 9 free throws to Alabama's 33, the Hogs tried 25 to Auburn's 17. Auburn was called for 23 fouls to Arkansas' 14.

"If you go inside, normally you're rewarded," Heath said. "If you shoot a lot of jump shots (as Arkansas did against Alabama), you may not benefit from it."

The Hogs shot just 38.2 percent from the field, but held Auburn to 37.3 percent and won on a day when starters Darian Townes, Steven Hill and Dontell Jefferson scored just 6, 2 and 2 points respectively.

Auburn wasted 12 points by reserve Rasheem Barrett, 13 rebounds by 6-8 forward Joey Cameron, a 12-10 edge in steals and a 35-35 standoff in rebounds.

"Arkansas' size was too big for us to get anything done inside," Lebo said. "We have a small margin for error anyway, and today we just didn't value the ball enough."

Tigers guard Frank Tolbert had a nightmare game with 2 points, five fouls and 7 turnovers — "not what we needed," Lebo said.

Heath countered Auburn's quickness with a lineup of four guards plus Thomas at center in the second half at times.

After the game, Townes chatted happily with Ron Brewer, who said, "This team looked focused and bonded together as a family."

Next up is Ole Miss on Wednesday in Bud Walton Arena.

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