Arkansas 85, Florida 81

Ronnie Brewer scores seven of his game-high 22 points in overtime and Jonathon Modica adds 22 points and 7 rebounds as Arkansas rallies past No. 7 Florida 85-81 in overtime Saturday afternoon before a crowd of 10,702 at Bud Walton Arena that braved the snow and ice.

It took a few more minutes than normal, but the University of Arkansas finally closed out a close game in winning style - and it was a huge one.

Ronnie Brewer had 24 points and a big 3-pointer in overtime while Jonathon  Modica added 22, a team-high 7 rebounds and a game-changing steal in regulation as Arkansas rallied to down No. 7 Florida 85-81 in overtime Saturday afternoon before a boisterous 10,702 fans at Bud Walton Arena.

"I can't say enough about my players and our fans," Arkansas head coach Stan Heath said. "It's not that we played perfect, but we played with our hearts and our heads and a lot of desire. We made some mistakes, but when we had to, we made the big plays at the end. This is definitely the biggest win for us while I have been here and we owe so much to the fans who came out despite the weather and were so loud and so supportive."

Eric  Ferguson added 12 in his first start of the season, Vincent Hunter a season-high 11 and Charles Thomas 10 in the win, which accomplished many things for the Razorbacks (17-8, 6-6), who were coming of a devastating 73-70 loss at woeful Ole Miss on Wednesday night.

It was their first win over a top 10 foe this year and in Stan Heath's Arkansas career, got them back to .500 in conference play, put them at 6-4 in the last 10 games and was an attention-grabbing one nationally.

"I think this is something that could really vault us forward," Heath said. "I really think it could be a big help in us ending the season on strong note. I can't think the fans enough for coming out the way they did and supporting us today even with the bad weather."

Brewer scored his team's final seven points, beginning with two free throws giving Arkansas an 80-79 win with 1:42 left in overtime, a huge 3-pointer with 55.6 remaining and then a pair of free throws in the final 20 seconds to clinch it.

"I have to give all the credit to the fans, who came out when they could have been doing a lot of other things with the roads as bad as they were," Brewer said. "I just wanted to do my best here today and help my team win. My teammates did a great job of getting me the ball in great position."

Arkansas shot 39.7 percent from the field and won despite hitting just 26-of-42 free throws while Florida shot 43 percent and hit 17-of-20 free throws.

"The second half was a back-and-forth basketball game," Gators coach Billy Donovan said. "Give Arkansas credit. They made some plays and their kids played hard and I thought it was a great college basketball game that both teams had a chance to win at times." Taurean Green had 20 points, Joakim Noah 16, Corey Brewer 11 and Al Horford 10 points and 11 rebounds for Florida (22-4, 8-4), who was coming off a 73-68 win at Vanderbilt.

It was the first time in 41 games that Florida had lost while scoring over 80 points per game.

"I just have to give Arkansas a lot, a lot of credit," Donavon said. "I am very proud of my team, very proud. It's not that we played bad. We played great. But they were just better than us today."

Noah, the son of former French tennis Yannick Noah and someone who had two monsterous dunk in the games, fouled out with 1:42 left in overtime when he knocked off Brewer, who then hit the two free throws to give Arkansas the lead for good.

"The calls were soft, but you can't blame the referees," Noah said. "That is just part of the game, Arkansas just wanted it more."

Florida led 73-70 with 2:45 remaining, but failed to score in the rest of regulation.

During that time, Arkansas hit 3 of its 6 free throw - 1 of 2 each by Charles Thomas, Steven Hill and Darian Townes, who tied it with his back end make of a pair with 20.6 left.

Townes' free throw that tied it only happened because Modica stripped Green with 25 seconds left after Townes had missed a shot that would have given Arkansas the lead.

He snuck up from behind, stole the ball and the Razorbacks missed two shots but crashed the boards before Townes got fouled.

Modica's block of Green's shot got the game into overtime although Ronnie Brewer's halfcourt shot had a chance to end it, but was off.

"Coach left me in on the defensive end at the end of regulation, and I wanted to reward him and my teammates with a big play," Modica said. "The whole time we were playing, I was praying, we would get ourselves over the hump. We've lost some close games and it feels great to get a close one."

The first half included a 14-0 run by the Razorbacks, one of their fans getting tossed for hitting a referee with the ball when he threw it back from out of bounds and plenty of booing of the officials.

Nothing got settled either as the two teams went to halfttime deadlocked at 31-31.

Arkansas scored the first six points of the second half to go up 37-31, forcing a timeout by Donavan less than than a minute after intermission.

But Florida settled down and responded soon afterward with a 10-1 run of its own, going up 47-43 on Noah's basket with 14:13 remaining in the game.

The Razorbacks followed with their own 10-1 spurt, one that included seven points by Modica and was culminated with his three free throws that surged Arkansas back ahead 53-48 at the 12:07 mark.

""We wanted to apply our style," Brewer said. "We needed to rebound and defend and we kept grinding on the defensive end. We ended up making tough shots."

Florida answered once again and looked to be in good shape to improve its road record to 6-2 this season when Corey Brewer's rebound slam got them up 73-70 with 2:45 remaining.

Pretty much the season then came down to those last few minutes in regulation and the five minutes of overtime with Arkansas making 5 of 7 to win the game.

"The free throw line scared me to death today," Heath said. "But we made the key ones that kept us in the game."

Florida grabbed a 16-9 lead on Green's 3-pointer at the 11:45 mark, but Arkansas' players and fans then turned up the intensity.

Hunter - who had seven early points - started the 14-0 barrage with a 3-pointer, Charles Thomas added two free throws and Modica's 3-pointer with 8:13 left put Arkansas ahead 17-16.

"I just wanted to be a sparkplug off the bench," said Hunter, the redshirt sophomore whose career high is 14 points.

Brewer's drive followed by consecutive tough inside baskets by Thomas capped the run and has pushed Arkansas to a 23-16 lead with 5:58 left in the half.

It was still a comfortable margin when Sean McCurdy found Stephen Hill for a dunk on the fast break that made it 30-23 with the clock showing 3:49.

But the Gators scored eight of the half's final nine points, with Green's 3-pointer tying it with just under a minute left.

Ferguson had a chance to give Arkansas the lead near the halftime buzzer, but his shot was swatted away by Horford.

That left it tied at 31 at the half and both teams scored 42 points in the second half to make the overtime necessary.

Definitely part of the reason Arkansas competed so well was winning the rebounding battle 38-37 and forcing 19 turnovers while only committing 14 of its own.

"We hopped on (rebounding) today," Heath said. "We didn't block as many shots as we usually do, but they allowed us to stay home and rebound, Another key stat was us having only 14 turnovers to their 19. That gave us more possessions. We had great intensity on defense and I thought our zone was effective." The Razorbacks will try to come up with the same result Tuesday night on national television when they welcome in Alabama (15-9, 8-4) for an 8 p.m. game that will be televised by ESPN.

It will be a rematch of a game in Tuscaloosa where Arkansas led by 13 in the second half, but lost 78-75 in its only other overtime game of the season.

"We have to keep going, keep pushing," Heath said. "But this was a big one."

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