FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas’ defense was tough again and the Razorbacks got a huge night from freshman center Darian Townes in a 96-68 victory over Tennessee State on Thursday.
Townes hit 10-of-13 shots and scored a game and season-high 20 points. He also had four rebounds and two blocked shots in only 24 minutes, helping Arkansas raise its record to 7-1.
“Darian played really well,” head coach Stan Heath said. “He really gave us a major lift.”
His .769 shooting percentage keyed another good shooting night for the Razorbacks as the Hogs shot better than 50 percent for the third time this season. UA hit 35-of-64 shots, 54.7 percent, and was over the 50 percent mark in each half – 56.3 in the first (18-32) and 53.1 in the second (17-32).
Defense was a key again as Arkansas held its opponent below 40 percent for the fifth time this season. Tennessee State, which fell to 5-5, made 27-of-74 shots, 36.5 percent.
“We were better at putting more pressure on the ball and getting more rebounds,” Heath said. “There was no lack of focus from our team tonight.”
Despite the shooting difference, the Tigers cut a 13-point deficit to 45-39 before Eric Ferguson’s jumper at the buzzer gave Arkansas an eight-point margin.
In the second half, TSU was within 49-43 and 51-45 before Townes scored on a layup, Charles Thomas hit a jumper, Townes tipped in a miss and Ronnie Brewer drained a jumper to make it 59-47 with 13:37 remaining.
Townes hit a turnaround jumper to push the lead to 66-49 with 10:27 left. Olu Famutimi made a running jumper for a 72-53 lead at the 8:33 mark.
Arkansas posted a 45-36 rebounding advantage and recorded a season-high 23 assists against a season-low tying 13 turnovers. Eric Ferguson had a career-high tying eight assists to go with seven points and four rebounds. Brewer and Dontell Jefferson each had six assists with Brewer also adding 13 points and six rebounds.
Thomas finished with 15 points on six-of-nine shooting. Olu Famutimi had nine points and seven rebounds, Rashard Sullivan was three-of-five for eight points with seven boards, and Jonathon Modica had eight points, three rebounds and two assists.
Rod Flowers, who was averaging 16.7 points and 10.9 rebounds coming in, had 17 and 11, respectively, for Tennessee State. Wayne Arnold had 14 points and Roshaun Bowens 13.
Arkansas plays host to Prairie View A&M Saturday at 12:35 p.m. in a game televised by ARSN. UA also plays host to Lipscomb Monday at 7:05 p.m. in a non-televised contest.