FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Stan Heath’s second season as basketball coach got off to a good start on Friday with an 89-60 win over Nicholls State in Bud Walton Arena.
The 89 points are the most the Razorbacks have scored since Jan. 30, 2002, in a 109-94 loss at Alabama, and the Hogs shot 57.4 percent from the field (31-54), 44.4 percent from three-point and 79.2 percent at the free-throw line (19-24).
The free-throw percentage is the best for Arkansas in a game with 20 or more attempts in three years, since shooting 85.7 percent (18-21) in an 87-70 win over LSU on Feb. 17, 2001. The field goal percentage is the best for UA since the ninth game last season when the Razorbacks shot 58.2 percent (32-55) in the 75-51 win over Centenary. Arkansas shot 39.3 percent from the field for the season last year. The Hogs also shot 31 percent from three-point last season, but hit eight of 18 bombs Friday.
“We did some good things,” Heath said. “We shot the ball well and got the rebounds inside and got the rebounds outside. I don’t want my guys to play soft. I want good balance inside and out. I would like to see us get more offensive rebounds.”
Arkansas had just five offensive rebounds, but still had a 31-29 rebounding advantage over the Colonels. The Razorbacks also forced 23 turnovers and held NSU to 36.5 percent shooting.
After averaging 21.5 points in two exhibition games, sophomore Jonathon Modica stayed hot Friday, hitting 11 of 16 shots and scoring a game-high 26 points, which matches his career high set last year in consecutive games against Florida and Alabama.
Arkansas led 41-27 at the half, but Modica opened the second period with a layup and a three-pointer to push the lead to 46-27. The Razorbacks stretched the margin to 70-38 on a Kendrick Davis three, but Nicholls, which got 21 points from Willie Depron, got within 70-53 on two Jason Wilkins free throws with 6:26 remaining. Modica answered with a dunk and Nicholls didn’t get any closer.
Ronnie Brewer finished with 18 points, eight assists and seven rebounds in his debut.
“He was great,” Heath said. “He passed it, shot it and handled it on the break. I am really happy with the way Ronnie played. He can make everyone around him better players.”
Eric Ferguson added 12 points on four of seven shooting and Davis finished with 11.
Wilkins finished with 19 points for the Colonels.
Arkansas plays host to Grambling State Tuesday at 7:05 p.m. in a non-televised game.