Townes, Thomas Help Hogs Turn Things Around

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas did everything it could to uphold the integrity of its season against Alabama late Tuesday night in Bud Walton Arena.

And a national television audience got to witness the Razorbacks make another legitimate case for a possible NCAA Tournament bid next month.

Arkansas rallied to fend off Alabama 65-63 in front of 18,448 frenzied fans, and one of the keys to unlocking this latest mystery was the inside play of sophomore forwards Darian Townes and Charles Thomas.

And anyone who didn't believe those two were difference makers might want to think again, as the two combined for 25 points, 7 rebounds and 4 blocks

Townes received most of the attention, most of the praise and most of the credit for Arkansas eventually development an inside game.

"Townes is one of those kind of guys ... he's got to get into some rhythm of some sort," Arkansas coach Stan Heath said. "For some reason, it takes a while to get him going.

"He really, really stepped it up."

Early on, Alabama was embarrassing Arkansas on the boards. The Crimson Tide outrebounded the Razorbacks 10-1 in the first six minutes of the game. In the first 20 minutes, Alabama had outrebounded the Hogs 22-12.

Why?

"There was not any real reason," Thomas said. "I think it was just a lack of hustle. They were just outhustling us, outplaying us. You know we fought back.

"That just showed our character."

In the final totals, the Crimson Tide only outrebounded the Hogs 33-27.

Razorbacks guard Jonathon Modica singled out Townes as he biggest reason for the second-half turnaround.

"Darian Townes carried us tonight, Darian Thomas carried us," Modica said. "He stepped it up when we needed it the most. Really, he and Thomas did a lot of things inside to keep us in this game.

"We needed them."

Townes said he was happy to oblige.

"I had to step my game up," Townes said. "I had a bad game against Florida (last Saturday in an 85-81 overtime win, in which Townes scored only three points). I needed to do better for us to win

"I just tried my best."

"We just wanted it more in the second half and everyone pretty much proved that tonight. We just stayed with it and never gave up when we needed to get the big plays."

And Townes was making a lot of them.

Here are few examples:

• With 14 minutes, 37 seconds left in the game, Townes scored on a short jumper to cut the Alabama lead to 42-31.

• With 12:55 left, he hit a turn-around jumper to cut the Crimson Tide lead to 45-34.

• With 8:43 left, Townes scored on a follow-up shot to cut the Alabama lead to 51-45.

• With 2:13 left, he scored on 13-foot jumper to tie the score at 57-57.

"I wanted a little revenge tonight," Townes said. "In the first game in Tuscaloosa, I thought we let that one (a 78-75 overtime loss on Jan. 18) get away.

"We didn't want that to happen tonight."

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