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Defense Sets the Tone in UA Exhibition Victory

Defense Sets the Tone in UA Exhibition Victory
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Darian Townes and Steven Hill combined for nine blocked shots while influencing many others, and Eric Ferguson and Olu Famutimi combined for 30 points to lead Arkansas to a 72-47 exhibition game victory over Texas A&M-Commerce Saturday.

Townes, a 6-10 freshman, had five blocked shots and Hill, a 7-0 freshman, had four, but their presence inside forced the Lions to alter countless other shots as Commerce shot just 31 percent from the floor (18-58). UA held Commerce to 31 percent shooting on nine of 29 attempts in each half.

“I liked our defense, especially in the second half,” UA head coach Stan Heath said. “We contained better in the second half and forced difficult shots. We just gave up too much penetration in the first. The freshmen were not afraid to be physical. They went after rebounds.”

The Razorbacks shot 43.1 percent (25-58), but Ferguson and Famutimi combined to hit 11 of 18 shots. Famutimi was six of 11, including two of four on threes, and scored a game-high 17 points. He also had a game-high matching seven rebounds, and added four assists and two steals. Ferguson hit five of seven shots, including three of four threes, and had 13 points and two assists.

“Olu looked very comfortable,” Heath said. “He took advantage of some good opportunities. The team set him up, which was good to see.”

UA scored the game’s first nine points, but the Lions were within 23-17 with 6:58 left in the first half. Townes and freshman Charles Thomas made layups, and junior Dontell Jefferson a dunk to give the Hogs a 12-point advantage, which they carried to the locker room at the half, 36-24.

Leading 44-31 at the 14:40 mark, Ferguson hit a 17-footer and a three-pointer around a layup by Jefferson for a 51-31 advantage.

The Lions got within 16, but consecutive threes by Jefferson and Famutimi pushed the margin to 67-43 with 3:16 left.

Ronnie Brewer had 11 points, six rebounds and three assists. Thomas scored five points in the final 36 seconds, and finished with nine points and six rebounds. Jonathon Modica had seven points, three rebounds and a game-high six assists, and Jefferson had seven points, two assists and three steals.

Brandon Bowie led Commerce with 10 points on five of eight shooting. Jermart Miller had eight points.

The Razorbacks play host to Abilene Christian in their final exhibition game on Friday at 7:05 p.m. UA opens the regular season Nov. 19 against Winthrop in the Paradise Jam in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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