FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) –Steven Hill is shooting 91 percent from the field over his last four games.
Of course, it’s hard to miss when so many of your shots are dunks.
Hill scored a career-high 16 points – the last 14 on crowd-pleasing slams – and Arkansas rolled to an easy 72-52 victory over No. 16 LSU on Saturday.
“We were having a blast out there today,” the 7-foot Hill said. “(The dunks) were pure momentum. They weren’t planned, they just happened.”
Hill, whose previous career high was 15 points in a 67-64 loss to Georgia on Wednesday night, went 8-of-10 from the field. He’s 20-of-22 in his last four games.
The Razorbacks were already ahead comfortably in the second half when Hill brought the crowd to life with a trio of dunks. The first two finished alley-oops and the last, a putback of a missed shot, made it 59-44.
“We just let him run around a little bit,” LSU coach John Brady said. “He’s a good player, but that wasn’t our problem to me.”
Brady lamented his team’s inability to execute against a zone defense. The Tigers shot 35 percent from the field.
“I thought our team tried hard and played hard and tried to carry out the game plan,” Brady said. “We used to just carve a zone up.”
The Razorbacks (13-6, 2-3 Southeastern Conference) had lost three straight since an 88-61 win over then-No. 8 Alabama earlier this month. They ended the skid with a resounding performance against another ranked team.
Glen Davis led the Tigers (13-5, 2-2) with 16 points on 6-of-16 shooting, and added eight rebounds. Hill, a junior, more than held his own against the LSU star. Hill has been known more as a shot blocker than a scorer at Arkansas, but he’s made teams pay lately for losing track of him.
“I always knew he had talent,” Davis said. “Tonight was his night with dunks and blocks. I didn’t underestimate his ability.”
LSU had won seven of eight against Arkansas. The previous four meetings were decided by five points or less.
Hill had seven rebounds and increased his scoring average to 6.5 points. Coach Stan Heath said the Razorbacks are doing a better job finding him when he’s open.
“He’s really cutting and running to the rim,” Heath said. “They’ve been doing that a lot lately in practice – I’ve been noticing. They like the little lob play. … He’s probably the only one that’s going to get it if you put it up, probably 11, 12 feet up there.”
Hill left to a standing ovation with 1:08 to play.
Arkansas point guard Gary Ervin, who has struggled with turnovers lately, was pulled from the starting lineup in favor of freshman Stefan Welsh. But when Ervin played, he was effective. He finished with 11 points, seven assists and three turnovers.
“I thought he did a good job today of being a leader, being a distributor, not forcing things,” Heath said. “And then when he had opportunities, it happened for him.”
Sonny Weems added 13 points for the Razorbacks, and Charles Thomas had 11 points and 10 rebounds. Darian Townes scored 10 points.
Arkansas lost to Georgia on Steve Newman’s long 3-pointer at the buzzer, but the Razorbacks bounced back emphatically against LSU. The Tigers’ Magnum Rolle missed a dunk on an alley-oop, and freshman Patrick Beverley made a 3-pointer at the other end to give Arkansas an 18-10 lead. The Razorbacks later went on a 9-0 run to make it 36-21.
Arkansas led 39-26 after a first half in which it shot 59 percent, then Hill started the second with an alley-oop dunk. Beverley’s 3-pointer in transition made it 46-28.
“We were consistent offensively,” Brady said. “We scored 26 each half.”
Brady was clearly exasperated on the sideline, drawing chants of “Sit Down, Brady!” late in the game. Brady raised his hand to acknowledge the Arkansas fans, then sat.
Terry Martin scored 10 points for the Tigers. Tasmin Mitchell finished with as many turnovers (six) as points.
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