FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – In a close game, the Red team held off a late run by the White to post a 73-70 victory in Arkansas’ annual Red-White Game Saturday in Bud Walton Arena.
In a matchup of two evenly divided teams, captains Ronnie Brewer and Jonathon Modica performed as expected, each scoring a game-high 23 points. Brewer made eight-of-13 shots, and added three rebounds, four assists and four steals for the Red. For the White, Modica made seven-of-13 shots, and added three rebounds and two steals.
“I enjoyed today,” head coach Stan Heath said. “We played hard. If it appeared that there was an advantage, it must have been the Red team. White did great as well. Red came back in the second half. There were lots of positives. We were good at the free throw line and the win was close.”
Much has been made of the addition to the team of centers Steven Hill and Darian Townes. Hill is a 7-0, 233-pound freshman from Branson, Mo., and Townes is a 6-10, 250-pound freshman from Alexandria, Va.
Townes made just four-of-11 shots from the field, but he had 12 points, four rebounds and three blocked shots. Hill made three-of-three shots for six points, and added eight rebounds and six blocked shots.
Each figured into the outcome down the stretch of Saturday’s game.
Hill scored on a putback with 48 seconds remaining to give the White team a 70-69 lead. Olu Famutimi converted a layup to put the Red back on top and Townes rebounded a missed shot by Modica with 6.5 seconds left. Townes was fouled and hit both free throws for the final margin.
“The big guys played extremely well,” Brewer said. “Steven came out of his shell and had a couple of blocks.”
“Steven did well,” Modica said. “And I think Darian stepped up really big.”
Hill and Townes have generated the most attention among UA’s newcomers, but junior college transfer Dontell Jefferson put up the most numbers Saturday. Playing in the backcourt with Brewer on the Red team, Jefferson made seven-of-15 shots, including three-of-five threes, and finished with 19 points, five rebounds and three assists with no turnovers.
“Ronnie and Jefferson were a good combo in the back,” Heath said. “They shared the positions and then flip-flopped. They kept White off-balance. It was an advantage for the Red and it made them more flexible.”
Michael Jones, the only senior on the team, played well for the White. His three with 8:04 left cut a six-point deficit to three and started his team’s rally. Consecutive layups by Modica and Eric Ferguson tied the game at 64-64 with 5:45 to play, but a layup by Jefferson and a three-point play by Brewer quickly pushed the margin back to five, 69-64 at the 3:52 mark.
Jones made two free throws to cut the lead to three and Modica followed with two more free throws before Hill’s putback gave the White its 70-69 advantage.
Jones finished with 20 points on five-of-13 shooting. He added six rebounds. Ferguson had 11 points, matched Hill for high-game rebounding honors with eight and finished with game highs of six assists and five steals. Preston Cranford added six points for the White on two threes, and Vincent Hunter had four points and four rebounds.
For the Red, Famutimi had eight points, six rebounds and three steals. Freshman forward Charles Thomas had seven points and three rebounds, and Rashard Sullivan had four points and seven boards.
The Red was 18-of-22 at the line (.818) and the White 19-of-24 (.792). The Red had 12 assists and 15 turnovers while the White had 10 assists and 17 turnovers.