Brewer Paces Razorbacks to 74-57 Win Over Geo

ATHENS, Ga. -- Ronnie Brewer scored 25 points to regain the Southeastern Conference scoring lead on Sunday and, more importantly, lead Arkansas to a 74-57 win over Georgia.

Brewer, who finished the regular season by averaging 18.6 points per game, helped steady the Razorbacks after Georgia had gone on a 9-0 run to whittle a 56-37 deficit to 56-46 with 10:51 to play.

"I'm very happy with how Ron played, but I'm also proud of what the team accomplished," said Ron Brewer, Ronnie's dad. "It's nice that he's leading the scoring race, but Ronnie is so humble that I know he's more excited about the team."

With Charles Thomas contributing 15 points and 15 rebounds, Arkansas improved to 21-8 and 10-6 in the Southeastern Conference with its fifth straight win.

The Razorbacks tied Alabama for second place in the SEC West, but remained the No. 3 seed and will have a rematch against Georgia (15-14, 5-11 SEC) at 8:45 p.m. Thursday in the first round of the SEC Tournament at Nashville.

"The familiarity will help," said Hogs coach Stan Heath, "but it's a new game. We did not do a great job of attacking Georgia's 1-3-1 zone today, and we'll need more inside production from Darian Townes (two points) and Steven Hill (zero points)."

Georgia, by playing tight on Arkansas' guards and fronting the post, limited the touches by the Hogs' post players. So Thomas just crashed the boards and got five of Arkansas' 17 offensive rebounds.

"Wow, what a game!" Thomas said, upon hearing his rebounding stats.

Georgia had just one player score in double figures -- reserve guard Billy Humphrey with 10 points including 3-of-5 3-pointers. Rashaad Singleton, a 7-foot freshman center, managed eight rebounds to tie Georgia guards Channing Toney and Sundiata Gaines for the team high.

"We never were as aggressive as I had hoped today," said Georgia coach Dennis Felton. "We just were not playing with as much energy as I would have liked. This damages our postseason hopes."

Jonathon  Modica, who scored 19 points for Arkansas, noticed that the Bulldogs, who have lost six of their last seven, were not at the magic level on Sunday.

"I know they will play with more intensity on Thursday," Modica said. "I know what they're going through. We just had to make sure not to come out flat and not let the fact that they didn't have too many people here affect us."

The announced crowd of 6,170 reflected tickets sold, but the actual attendance in Stegeman Coliseum was perhaps half of that.

Georgia trailed just 38-30 at halftime -- similar to Ole Miss' 38-33 halftime deficit when the Rebels stunned Arkansas 73-70 on Feb. 15 -- but Heath said he never mentioned Ole Miss at halftime.

"I talked about the Mississippi State game instead," he said. "We led that one by 20 in the second half last week and let them cut it to eight when we took quick shots and stopped defending. Today we bent in the second half but did a good job of maintaining our lead."

Georgia had a higher shooting percentage than Arkansas in the first half -- 42.9 pecent to 40 percent -- but the Razorbacks limited Georgia to 31 percent shooting in the second half to finish with a .403 to .368 edge.

Arkansas also led the board battle 45-41 and had just six turnovers to Georgia's 16.

In the last four games of its point guard by committee approach, Arkansas has averaged a remarkably low 8.25 turnovers per game.

Eric  Ferguson, in his fifth straight start at guard since the Ole Miss loss, had five assists, one turnover and three steals to go with 11 points for Arkansas.

It was Ferguson who began the scoring with a driving layup, before Georgia took a quick 7-2 lead. Just as quickly, Arkansas went on a 14-0 tear to take control at 16-7, capped by Ferguson's jumper following a Brewer steal.

Later, when the Bulldogs sneaked within 56-46, Ferguson used another Brewer feed to make a 3-pointer, then added a banked 3 moments later for 62-48. Brewer's 10-footer made it 64-48.

Ferguson's only blip was a silly technical foul after a personal foul, but Georgia missed two of the four free throws.

"I'm really excited and happy with how we played," Heath said. "I thought Thomas was a warrior. I think Georgia is a better team than we saw today -- they have a dangerous club."

It was just Arkansas' fifth SEC road win in four seasons under Heath, but the third this year.

"We're excited about it, and excited about playing Georgia again," Modica said. "We think we match up well."

Modica, who got hit in the mouth two or three times Sunday, displayed some sores under his lower lip and joked, "I thought I was going to have to go to the hospital."

Heath said he would take a few hours to enjoy the win ("I'm enjoying the way we're playing with camaraderie"), but he added, "Then we have to go right back into game mode again. We've got great momentum. I think we have a legitimate chance to win the SEC Tournament, and we're playing for (NCAA Tournament) seeding."

Arkansas' 21 wins represent its most since a 23-11 season in 1998-1999.


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