Bulldogs Can't Handle The Hog Heat

FAYETTEVILLE -- A few days worth of eating, relaxing and television watching had Arkansas' basketball players salivating for a game.

Their effort in a 80-50 victory Saturday over Louisiana Tech proved how eager the Hogs were for a return to official action.

"We had been off for break for a while," Arkansas freshman Patrick Beverley said. "So, I think that's why our energy level was so high."

Exhibiting relentless intensity, Arkansas forced 22 turnovers, held the Bulldogs (2-10) to 32.1 percent shooting and improved to 10-3 before a Bud Walton Arena crowd of 13,557.

For the first 10 minutes, Arkansas' hard-nosed play resulted in just a small lead.

The contest was so close, Louisiana Tech coach Keith Richard recalled, "it was a win or lose game late in the first half when it was 21-17."

But then, Arkansas rotated between two types of 1-3-1 zone defenses.

In their version called "20," the Hogs played a standard zone, pressuring passes and harassing ball-handlers. In a different variation called "21," the Hogs trapped out of the defense, forcing poor decisions by the Bulldogs' guards.

"We have a lot of length and quickness, and we're starting to cover for each other," Arkansas coach Stan Heath said. "It can be an effective defense. It causes turnovers and bad shots."

The Bulldogs committed 15 turnovers by the end of the first half, and the Hogs turned them into 15 points.

The miscues came in many different ways.

Louisiana Tech fired the ball into the stands. The Bulldogs stepped on the out-of-bounds line. They barreled into Arkansas defenders. Steven Hill and Darian Townes blocked shots. Sonny Weems and Beverley swiped passes and dribbles.

"It's our attack defense," Beverley said.

Meanwhile, as Louisiana Tech aided Arkansas with its poor handling of the pressure, the Hogs held onto the ball -- better than they have all season with a season-low half of three turnovers.

Gary Ervin and Sean McCurdy initiated fast breaks when those opportunities arose and ran the offense with patience when the Hogs running game stalled.

Arkansas finished with a season-low 11 turnovers for the third straight game. Ervin committed two, and McCurdy had one.

"That has been our barometer," Heath said. "When we take care of the ball, we win. When we have struggled, it's because we're not taking care of the ball."

Winning the turnover battle helped Arkansas attain a 37-21 halftime lead, even as the Razorbacks missed 15 of their first 24 shots. The Hogs drained 17 of their last 29 attempts, though, and kept nagging Louisiana Tech with their emphatic execution of "20" and "21."

"It's not a regular zone," said Hogs junior Charles Thomas, who led Arkansas with 16 points. "We speed a lot of teams up. We're not just sitting back and letting teams shoot. It's a pressure zone."

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