Heath Sends Message By Benching Weems

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Arkansas forward Sonny Weems got the message that coach Stan Heath was trying to send to him following halftime.

After committing four turnovers in the first half of Wednesday's 66-60 loss at South Carolina — more than any other player — Weems started the second half on the bench.

Reserve Preston Cranford started in Weems' place, a clear sign that Heath wasn't pleased with the junior's effort early on.

"He told me I need to be more focused," Weems said. "I don't think I was focused at the beginning of the game, that's probably why I had those turnovers."

Weems said opening the second half on the bench served as a "wake-up call." The junior committed only one turnover in the second half, and he grabbed six rebounds after coming off the bench to finish with 11 points and eight rebounds in 32 minutes.

Afterward, Heath admitted that he was trying to make a point to Weems by starting Cranford in the second half.

"Four turnovers is way too many. Nobody should have that many," Heath said. "I just needed to get him focused."

Cranford tried to make the most of his limited playing time, scoring three points and dishing out one assist in eight minutes.

"I just tried to go out there and play as hard as I could and give us a little bit of a jump-start," Cranford said.



Around The Basket

Forward Darian Townes made up for Arkansas' lack of outside shooting, scoring a team-high 17 points off the bench and using his size to get several second-chance opportunities around the basket.

But Townes struggled down the stretch to take advantage of some easy opportunities. He missed back-to-back shots on the same possession with less than three minutes remaining.

And the 6-foot-10 junior came up short on a shot around two feet from the basket that would have pulled Arkansas within two points of South Carolina with 41 seconds left.

"When I released the shot, I knew it was going to come off hard," Townes said.

Heath said he believed the forward rushed his shot down the stretch.

"I think he hurried those shots a little bit, and he had a little bit more time to gather himself and explode up and either dunk it or take it up strong," Heath said. "But those were some plays that we wish we could have had back."



Getting Technical

For the most part, Heath keeps his composure on the sideline. But the coach picked up his first technical foul of the season when he tried arguing a no-call with the score tied at 53 with 6:29 remaining.

After South Carolina forward Dominique Archie made a jumper in the lane to tie the score, Heath ran near halfcourt and yelled at the officials. Heath felt that Archie had stood in the paint for more than three seconds, which would have been a violation.

Heath said he received the technical because he went outside the coach's box to argue his case, not because of something he said to an official.

"The player was in (the paint) for so long, I was just trying to maybe just get the (official's) attention. I certainly wasn't doing anything to disrespect the officials," Heath said. "So I was a little surprised (by the technical); I thought a warning would be appropriate.

"But hey, if you call it to the ‘T,' then I was out of the box."

South Carolina's Tre' Kelley made the second of two free throws, giving the Gamecocks the 54-53 lead.


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