ST. THOMAS, U.S. Virgin Islands — A near record team shooting effort and strong individual performances from Eric Ferguson and Olu Famutimi powered Arkansas to a 72-49 victory over Winthrop in Friday’s first round of the Paradise Jam.
Arkansas shot 64.7 percent from three-point range (11-17) and outscored the Eagles by 20 in the second half in posting the easy victory. The three-point percentage is the second-best single-game mark in school history. UA hit 14-of-21 (.667) against Western Carolina in a 90-54 victory in 1999.
“I’m proud of these guys,” UA head coach Stan Heath said. “This was our first game and they probably had a lot of jitters. We watched film of Winthrop, but we really didn’t have a good feel for them. We made some adjustments. In the first half, we weren’t rebounding the ball well. They were getting too many second-chance points. We stayed with our press and that kind of got to them.”
The Razorbacks are off Saturday but return to action Sunday with a 7 p.m. (central) game against Troy.
Ferguson, playing 22 minutes off the bench, scored 16 points and had four assists. Famutimi had game highs of 17 points and eight rebounds, missing his scoring career high by one and matching his rebounding best.
UA led 33-30 at the break, thanks to two Charles Thomas free throws three seconds before the half, but a three by Torrell Martin at the 16:38 mark tied the game at 40-40. Famutimi hit a three, Thomas made two more free throws and Ferguson drained two threes to put the Hogs up 51-40 with 12:02 to play.
A free throw cut the margin to 10, but Thomas scored on a layup, Ronnie Brewer made a free throw and Darian Townes scored four straight to push Arkansas’ lead to 58-41 with 8:26 left.
The Razorbacks eventually built the margin to 24, 70-46, with 3:48 remaining.
Arkansas shot 53.3 percent from the field overall (24-45), including 63.6 percent (14-22) in the second half. UA also made 13-of-18 free throws (.722). Winthrop shot 27.8 percent for the game (15-54). The Eagles were six-of-22 on threes (.273), including just one-of-13 in the second half (.077).
UA had a 35-31 rebounding edge and turned the ball over 15 times while forcing 16 turnovers.
Brewer finished with 11 points, and Thomas had eight points and three rebounds. Dontell Jefferson had seven points, three rebounds and a game-high five assists. Darian Townes had four points and four rebounds, and Steven Hill had two points, three rebounds and four blocked shots.
“Olu had a tremendous game,” Heath said. “Eric and Dontell really sparked us and Charles really helped.”
Arkansas trailed 17-10 with 11:47 left in the first half, but Ferguson hit a jumper and a three around two free throws by Thomas to tie the game. Jefferson hit two threes in the first half with each one giving the Hogs the lead, 22-19 and 27-24.
Craig Bradshaw led the Eagles with 12 while Martin finished with 11.