Razorbacks Still Can't Win On The Road

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Sonny Weems should have asked his coach.

Shoulders slumped, his plastic mask shoved in his gym bag, Weems struggled to address Arkansas' 66-60 loss Wednesday night at South Carolina. He searched for the words, mere minutes after Arkansas' fifth road defeat in five tries this season, but couldn't find many.

Weems seemed baffled, uttering, "I don't know," nine times in the first two minutes of his interview. He didn't know how to explain the Razorbacks' repeated lack of intensity away from Bud Walton Arena.

Stan Heath knew, and Arkansas' coach supplied the reason moments after Weems spoke.

"I do have an answer," Heath said. "We're immature, and we've got to grow up. We've just got to simply grow up. We've got to play the game at an intense level regardless of if it's home or away."

Inconsistent play that's becoming a trademark of Heath's teams on the road again doomed the Razorbacks before an announced crowd of 11,776 in the Colonial Center.

Most of the problems stemmed from an absence of focus, desire and intelligence — traits Arkansas players' swore would be present during Wednesday's encounter.

The Hogs committed 13 turnovers in the first half. They failed to run their offense correctly against South Carolina's zone defense. They rushed, and missed, layups.

Most frustratingly for Heath, as well as his confounded players, they couldn't match the Gamecocks' steady and vehement intensity.

"South Carolina wanted it more," Arkansas forward Darian Townes said. "We came out real lackadaisical. We came back and took the lead, but it just seemed like they wanted it a little more at the end."

Before the Razorbacks (13-7, 2-4 Southeastern Conference) could reclaim the lead, they dug a deficit by turning the ball over about every way possible in the opening 20 minutes.

Patrick Beverley dropped a pass. Weems carried the ball. Gary Ervin tossed a pass right to South Carolina's Tre' Kelley, who, scored a game-high 22 points on a bum knee. Charles Thomas lazily lofted a pass to a South Carolina (11-7, 1-4) defender. Weems had a Steven Hill pass slip through his fingers. Stefan Welsh traveled. And those weren't even half of the first-half miscues.

In Weems' mind, most of them were self-inflicted.

"We were just throwing the ball all over the gym," Weems said. "When a team doesn't pressure you, you're not supposed to turn the ball over."

Ervin seemed determined to ensure the Hogs would take better care of the basketball in the second half. He stormed first out of the locker room, clapping repeatedly and constantly encouraging teammates.

His efforts helped, as the Razorbacks went on to commit just four second-half turnovers. After taking a brief 53-51 lead, though, they never could get crucial shots to fall.

Townes tied the game at 56 on a three-point play with 5 minutes, 28 seconds remaining. But the Razorbacks wouldn't score again until Thomas' dunk made it 64-58 with eight seconds left.

All of the squandered opportunities left Weems with a sick feeling.

He realized the Razorbacks could've pulled into an SEC Western Division first-place tie with Auburn. He comprehended the impact Arkansas' first road win could've had on him and his teammates.

He just didn't understand why a victory didn't materialize.

"We still should've won the game, hands down," Weems said. "We're a better team. I know they're not a better team than us."

For one evening, however, the Gamecocks were a more mature team.

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