FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – After a tight first half, Arkansas picked up the defensive pressure in the second half and rolled past Abilene Christian, 90-56, in its final exhibition game before opening the season next week.
Division II ACU led 20-13 eight minutes in and rallied from a six-point deficit to take a 36-35 lead with 2:42 left in the first half. From there, it was all Razorbacks. Over the final 22:42 of the game, Arkansas outscored the Wildcats 55-20.
“They made a lot of threes and stayed with us on the boards,” UA head coach Stan Heath said. “In the second half, we did a better job of taking away the threes early. I like the non-selfishness of this team. We’re sharing the ball, and I like the attitude and chemistry of this team. They are growing, and we are continuing to work to get better.”
UA, which faces Winthrop in its season opener on Friday in the first round of the Paradise Jam in the U.S. Virgin Islands, ended the half with an 8-0 run and led 43-36 at the break.
Abilene cut the margin to 49-47 early in the second half, but Dontell Jefferson hit two threes in a 10-0 run to put the Hogs up 59-47 with 11:49 left.
Hakim Rasul hit a jumper to get ACU within 61-51, but Jonathon Modica scored nine of his game-high 20 points over the next two minutes as UA surged to a 73-52 advantage.
Seven-foot freshman Steven Hill hit two free throws and made a dunk to make it 77-52, and five straight points by Olu Famutimi on a trey and a dunk pushed it to 83-54 with 3:14 remaining.
After shooting 43.1 percent in the 72-47 victory over Texas A&M-Commerce last week, the Razorbacks improved to 54 percent shooting Friday. UA made 17 of 31 in the first half (.548) and 17 of 32 in the second (.531).
Defensively, the Hogs held Abilene to 34.5 percent shooting, but the Wildcats made it interesting in the first half by hitting seven of 10 three-pointers. In the second period, ACU missed all six of its treys. The smaller Wildcats were also even on the boards in the first half, trailing UA by just 17-16. Arkansas had a 26-11 advantage in the second half and outboarded ACU 43-27 for the game.
Modica hit seven of 12 shots, and added three rebounds, two assists and two steals. Famutimi and Ronnie Brewer scored 14 each with Famutimi making six of 10 shots and Brewer seven of 13. Each had six rebounds while Brewer added two assists and four steals.
Freshman Charles Thomas had 11 points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals, and Hill finished with nine points and four rebounds.
Dionte Gill led ACU with 13 and Rasul scored 10.