FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Eric Ferguson scored five points in the last three-plus minutes and Ronnie Brewer recorded the third double-double of his career as Arkansas held off Jacksonville State for a 73-67 victory on Wednesday.
The win improves Arkansas to 11-1, its best start since the 1995 club also began the year 11-1. The last time the Razorbacks began a season with a better record was 1994 when the Hogs started 12-1.
UA’s six-game winning streak is its longest since the end of 2001 when Arkansas won its last five regular-season games and its first game in the SEC Tournament to earn an NCAA Tournament bid before finishing 20-11.
All of that was in question much of Wednesday. Jacksonville State, which dropped to 4-8, led 33-31 at the half, joining only No. 1 Illinois as the only two teams to hold a lead at the break over the Hogs. With 10:32 remaining, Walker Russell hit a free throw to give the Gamecocks a 48-42 lead.
Darian Townes scored on a tip-in, Olu Famutimi hit a three and Jonathon Modica made a dunk off a pass from Ferguson to give Arkansas a 49-48 lead less than two minutes later. A turnover at the 7:59 mark, the 16th of the game for Arkansas, led to a Dorein Brown dunk and a 52-51 JSU lead, but the Razorbacks went the rest of the way without turning the ball over again.
Ferguson, who finished with 13 points, six assists and four steals, knocked down a three for a 54-52 lead. Brewer, who was six-of-eight at the line, canned two at the stripe for a four-point margin. A blocked shot by Famutimi led to a dunk by Modica and Brewer dunked off his own steal for a 60-52 lead with 5:47 left.
A three by Anthony Wilson and consecutive layups by Carlos Lumpkin kept the Gamecocks within three before a Famutimi steal led to a Ferguson layup and a 67-61 advantage with 2:28 to go. Brewer added two free throws at the two minute mark and a Ferguson steal set up a 13-footer by Brewer for a 71-63 lead with 1:15 to play.
Brewer finished with a team-high 17 points, and a game and career-high 13 rebounds. He also had four assists and four steals with only one turnover. Townes had 11 points on four-of-six shooting, five rebounds and two blocked shots. Famutimi added nine points and Michael Jones eight points and four rebounds, all in the first half to help Arkansas get within two at the break.
Russell made nine-of-14 shots and scored a game-high 24 points for JSU. Wilson was six-of-nine for 15 points.
Arkansas plays host to Louisiana-Monroe Friday at 7:05 p.m. in a game televised by ARSN.