Annoyed, Heath Considers Lineup Changes

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas coach Stan Heath has grown tired of watching his team make the same old mistakes that keep contributing to close road losses.

That's why Heath is considering the possibility of ditching his current starting lineup in favor of something new.

One day after the Razorbacks blew an 18-point first-half lead in a 78-76 loss at Kentucky, Heath said he might make a change at point guard and with his low-post players in an attempt to cut down on turnovers and get more rebounds.

"Throughout this week, I'm looking to shake some things up with the lineup, anyway," Heath said Monday afternoon. "I told our team that, that, 'Hey, there are minutes and there are starting spots available.' That possibility definitely exists, that there could be some change by Saturday."

Heath will have plenty of time over the next few days to consider any possible changes. The Razorbacks (14-6, 3-4 SEC) don't play again until 2:05 p.m. Saturday when they host South Carolina in Bud Walton Arena. But by then, the team's starting lineup could have a much different look to it.

After watching Dontell Jefferson score only two points and commit five turnovers while battling foul trouble Sunday afternoon, Heath said he's considering benching the senior in favor of either Eric Ferguson or Sean McCurdy at point guard.

"I definitely want to look at some different things, and McCurdy is definitely an option," Heath said. "Ferguson is definitely an option, too."

Jefferson has started all 20 games this season, but Ferguson made a case for more playing time by scoring 14 of his 19 points in the second half of the nationally televised game at Kentucky. The senior provided the Hogs with some much-needed offense down the stretch, making 7-of-12 shots and only turning the ball over twice.

Nonetheless, the Razorbacks continued what is a becoming a disturbing trend of squandering double-digit leads on the road against Southeastern Conference opponents. The Hogs blew a 13-point advantage with 13 minutes remaining at Alabama to lose 78-75 in overtime on Jan. 18.

In an effort to reverse the trend, as well as put some pressure on his big men to be more aggressive on the boards, Heath said he might make a change with his post players.

He was particularly annoyed at the fact that center Steven Hill and forwards Darian Townes and Charles Thomas combined to grab only two rebounds in the second half against Kentucky. Overall, Arkansas was outrebounded 22-11 over the final 20 minutes, which has led Heath to contemplate giving forwards Cyrus McGowan and Vincent Hunter more playing time.

"I know I've said this before, but I've got to look hard at McGowan because he can rebound," Heath said. "And I've got to look harder at Hunter and see what he can give us, too, if he can help us a little bit with just his activeness that he gives us out there on the court."

Either way, it should make for an interesting week of practice.

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