Townes Responds With Season-Best Performance

FAYETTEVILLE — Darian Townes was jogging down the court during the first half of Saturday's game against Missouri-Kansas City when Arkansas coach Stan Heath desperately yelled at him from the Razorbacks' bench.

Heath didn't have anything specific to say, but instead encouraged Townes to do what he does best, to get tough and to be the inside guy Arkansas has needed most all season long. Townes thought it over for a second and realized Heath was right — and then he went to work. "I started off real slow, I started off really flat," said Townes, a 6-foot-10 junior forward. "Coach (Heath) got on me for that, he yelled at me and got me ready. He got my head right and then I was ready to play." Townes finished with a season-high day for the Razorbacks, with 19 points and eight rebounds, to help Arkansas beat UMKC 71-61. Arkansas' inside game seemed like it never showed up in the first half against the Kangaroos, as the Hogs fell behind by 11 points at the 12:01 mark because of a number of missed opportunities and turnovers. But Arkansas (6-1) responded in the second half with a mixture of perimeter shots from junior guard Preston Cranford that also opened up the inside game for Townes and junior forward Charles Thomas, who finished with 16 points and eight rebounds. The Hogs finished with 34 points in the paint compared to UMKC's 18. "Darian had a huge game," Heath said. "Hopefully it's a coming out party because that kid is really talented and can do a lot of things for us. (Saturday), Darian was the guy who needed to be on the court. He stepped up. The guys got him the ball and he did something with it. We've been needing an inside presence and he's the best we have at that." Arkansas' man-to-man defense also forced the Kangaroos (3-5) to take several 3-point shots — 28 in all — most of the game, leaving Arkansas' inside guys to outrebound UMKC 41-19 overall. "Our game plan was to make them beat us with the 3," UMKC coach Rick Zvosec said. "But obviously, coach Heath told his guys after shooting a lot of jump shots against Missouri (last Thursday) that the ball had to go inside — and they did."

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