Off-court tempers boil over on court

NEW ORLEANS -- The third and final matchup between LSU and Arkansas mirrored the previous tilt between the two teams in Baton Rouge last month – a lopsided victory for the Tigers and a plethora of physical and verbal jabs during and after the game.

Arkansas head coach Stan Heath wasn't exactly pleased with LSU's actions following the Razorbacks 75-56 loss to the Tigers on February 22 at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

Although the schools third and final matchup took place in a different venue as the previous, at the Southeastern Conference Tournament in the New Orleans Superdome, there were some striking similarities to the win the Tigers enjoyed at home on .

The Tigers again put the game out of reach early in the first half, winning Thursday 85-56 to advance to the quarterfinals to face Florida, tempers flared and frustration boiled over from the Arkansas camp.

The ruckus stemmed again midway through the second half. With 10:58 left in the contest, LSU forward Ronald Dupree corralled a rebound off Arkansas guard Jonathon Modica's missed shot. Modica and Dupree then battled for the rebound and were tied up like two boxers caught in the ring corner. As each player battled for the ball, Modica flailed his arm into Dupree's chin.

Both Heath and LSU head coach John Brady came off the benches to contain the near-scuffle. The referees convened at the official's table delaying play for five minutes to control the situation. Modica was then issued personal and technical fouls.

"When emotions get high and things snowball the way they did today, things just don't go your way," Heath said.

Dupree said he didn't want to lose his cool and retaliate by taking a shot at Modica.

"It was just two competitive guys going for a loose ball," Dupree said. "I was in better position and it was just two players going at it. And of course I didn't want to get into any scuffle to hinder our team."

If Dupree would have thrown a punch or any other physical contact, he could have been ejected. More importantly, Dupree would have been suspended for the Tigers' contest against Florida Friday due to the ejection.

Modica said his response occurred out of frustration and overflowed into his extracurricular actions.

"We were down and we were just getting embarrassed and I didn't handle the situation well," Modica said. "I apologize for my actions and apologize to my teammates and our fans."

Two seconds later, Hogs starting guard Eric Ferguson fouled LSU's Torris Bright and more jawing spawned between LSU and Arkansas. This is where each bench's story became contradictory.

Words were exchanged between Brady and Ferguson. The referee called a technical foul on Ferguson and he was ejected from the game.

Brady said the referee heard what Ferguson said and called the proper call.

When asked what Ferguson told him, Brady said: "Nothing. It speaks for itself what went on. The official was right there, he heard it and he made the right call. In fact the officials made the right call in every occurrence that happened today."

Brady said he responded to what Ferguson said to him. Now what was said? "Well that's none of your business," Brady said.

Heath's story rings with a different twist. Heath wouldn't say if Brady said something first to ignite Ferguson.

"That's something you need to find out," Heath said. "What I heard is not something I'm real comfortable with right now … I don't think (other coaches talking to players during the game) should happen.

"I heard two sides of the story. Eric shouldn't respond to someone who was talking to him like that. He realizes it was a mistake."

The first-year Hogs coach said he wished some of the events wouldn't have happened and it was unfortunate. But he also said that he doesn't want his team to be pushed around or quit when adversity strikes.

"It's sad because our team has been first class for the whole year and we've done things the right way … it really wasn't a true reflection of our team and our personality," Heath said.

Arkansas may have reached its boiling point with 14:53 left in the second half. LSU guard Collis Temple hit two free throws to put the Tigers up 55-26. The Hogs then inbound the ball and when they turned around, they saw a Tiger full-court press.

Heath also thought Brady kept too many players on the floor despite the obvious LSU advantage.

"Everyone coaches his team a certain way," Heath said. "If were losing and people are shooting on us then that's our fault when a team keeps coming at us and we don't respond. We got what we deserve. We just did not play the full 40 minutes. We let it happen. I'm not going to coach somebody else's team. That's not my job."

Brady said his bench wasn't as deep for this game with an injured Thomas Davis and backups with little experience.

"I didn't have anybody else to put in," Brady said. "I knew I'd be asked that question. If you look at our (starters) minutes, I think they were pretty spread out. We had two guys play 28 minutes and nobody else played more than 23 minutes. I think that is pretty spread out."

LSU possessed eight players with at least 15 minutes on the floor and no player roamed the court for more than 28 minutes.

Frustration continued the rest of the way for Arkansas as four players were either ejected our fouled out. Modica fouled out with 9:32 left, forward Rashard Sullivan fouled out with 10:23 left, center Larry Satchell fouled out with 7:47 and the Ferguson's ejection.

"You know things happen that you just can't change," said Arkansas' Carl Baker.

The bickering began Feb. 22 following LSU's 75-56 win over Arkansas. Heath accused the LSU players of laughing, smiling and showboating during the contest. Both schools have gone back and forth through media outlets.

"There was a lot of chatter before the game, but we still came out and had a great start," Dupree said.

The quarrelling nature of the second half slowed down the hot shooting Tigers, dropping from nearly 56 percent from the field in the first half to just above 40 percent in the second half. Arkansas couldn't get as hot as its attitudes, though, in the second

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