Arkansas Big Men Come Up Short

OXFORD, Miss. — Arkansas coach Stan Heath tried practically everything but taking the court himself to try to slow down Ole Miss' post players.

Heath started out with forward Charles Thomas and center Steven Hill in the lineup. When that didn't work Saturday, he brought in Darian Townes and Vincent Hunter off the bench.

And when that lineup was just as ineffective being aggressive and grabbing the loose ball in the paint, Heath turned to seldom-used forwards Cyrus McGowan and Michael Washington.

It didn't matter. None of them got the job done in Arkansas' 74-72 loss in front of an announced crowd of 7,292 in Tad Smith Coliseum.

"My frustration was our lacking of rebounding. I was just trying to find somebody to go in there and get a rebound," Heath said. "Charles played decent in the first half, but he had no rebounds. That's not right. He knows better than that."

Coming into Saturday, Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy was concerned with how his undersized big men would fare against Arkansas' frontcourt. After all, the Rebels had been outscored 72-44 in the paint over their first two Southeastern Conference games.

But it wasn't a problem whatsoever on Saturday.

Forward Dwayne Curtis threw his weight around underneath the basket, fellow forward Kenny Williams hustled for second- and third-chance opportunities in the paint and Ole Miss relied on its aggressiveness to pull off the upset over Arkansas.

The Rebels outscored the Razorbacks 13-2 on second-chance points in the first half and grabbed 14 offensive rebounds.

In total, Arkansas outrebounded Ole Miss 35-34, though it was hard to tell based on how many easy putbacks Curtis (20 points, 12 rebounds) and Williams (10 points, seven rebounds) combined for.

"We didn't play aggressive at all in the first half," said Thomas, who scored a game-high 23 points for the Razorbacks, but had only three rebounds — including none in 12 minutes in the first half. "We picked it up in the second half with rebounding, but in this league you've got to play a full 40 minutes — which we didn't do."

Arkansas' lack of aggressiveness in the paint came as a surprise to Heath, especially considering how his big men were able to hold their own in a 27-point win over No. 14 Alabama and a 7-point loss at No. 2 Florida on Tuesday.

Thomas and Townes played more physical after getting a heated talk from Heath at halftime. But Curtis and Williams were still able to establish themselves down low and outmuscle the Razorbacks down the stretch.

"I thought (the Rebels) were, especially in the first half, the tougher team, the more physical team, the team that wanted it a lot more," Heath said.

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