FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – After losing a 16-point lead and falling behind by one to Northwest Sport Tours, Arkansas got big shots from Billy Pharis and Olu Famutimi to claim an 84-77 exhibition game victory Saturday in Bud Walton Arena.
UA led 45-29 in the first half and 45-33 at the break, but Darius Bears scored eight of his 17 points in the first six minutes of the second half and Northwest took a 53-52 lead on a three-point play by Damen Maddox with 13:06 to go.
With the game tied 55-55, Pharis, who had 10 points and seven rebounds, hit consecutive threes around a Maddox jumper to give the Razorbacks a 61-57 lead. Famutimi, who had 11 points on four of seven shooting, followed with a three for a seven-point margin.
Northwest, which shot 44.4 percent from the field (28-63) but made 14 of 16 free throws, closed within 71-67, but Modica got two of his game-high 25 points on a layup. Arkansas had its lead cut to 77-73 with 2:35 left, but Eric Ferguson made two free throws and Modica, who made nine of 13 shots, drained a three to seal the victory.
“I’m pleased,” Arkansas head coach Stan Heath said. “There were times in the game where they made a run and they even took the lead. We could have put our heads down, but we responded. Jonathon and Olu stepped out and hit some threes, and Billy made some shots.”
Modica had 13 points in the first half and the Razorbacks forced 10 turnovers while losing the ball just five times in taking a 12-point lead at the half. UA finished with 17 assists and 13 turnovers, and made 16 of 22 free throws (.727), but Northwest had just seven turnovers while forcing eight, and got 14 points from Beard and six from Myron Simms in the final 20 minutes to make its run.
Ferguson and Ronnie Brewer added 10 points each for the Razorbacks, who shot 46.2 percent from the field (30-65). Ferguson also had five assists. Vincent Hunter had nine points and a game-high 10 rebounds.
“It’s a game of making decisions and capitalizing on mistakes,” Heath said. “Every time we made a mistake, they made us pay, and that’s what veterans do. It’s good that we responded.”
Eric Franson had 15 points and eight rebounds, and Maddox and Simms finished with 11 points each for Northwest.
Arkansas closes its exhibition season Friday with a 7:05 p.m. game against EA Sports. The Razorbacks open the season the following Friday, on Nov. 21, against Nicholls State.