FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas survived a three-point barrage by California University (Pa.), holding on for a 75-68 win in the Razorbacks final exhibition contest of the season Monday in Bud Walton Arena.
Arkansas led by as many as 15 with 13:44 to play in the second half, but the Vulcans refused to go away, pulling to within five twice in the final minute. The Vulcans poured in nine three-pointers, including three over a 1:21 span in the final minute-and-a-half, and shot 56 percent from three-point territory for the game.
The Razorbacks were 5-of-14 on threes (.360).
In its two previous exhibition games, California lost at Atlantic Coast Conference member Maryland, 79-78, last Wednesday and by 15 at No. 5 Pittsburgh on Saturday.
Arkansas outrebounded the Vulcans, who do not feature a player taller than 6-6, 38-27. The Razorbacks also outscored California 42-22 inside the paint.
The Hogs overcame shooting 16-of-31 (.520) from the free-throw line, and turning the ball over 17 times.
Junior Vincent Hunter led a balanced offensive night for the Hogs. Hunter, a 6-9 forward, had 14 points on 6-of-6 shooting, including 2-of-2 on three-pointers. The Little Rock, Ark., native also grabbed six rebounds and had four assists.
Hunter remained perfect from the floor during the exhibition season. He was 3-of-3 in the Razorbacks’ first exhibition against Xavier-New Orleans on Oct. 31.
Fellow junior Charles Thomas scored 10 points, on 4-of-6 shooting, and grabbed five rebounds, all of which were in the second half. After the Vulcans cut the lead to seven at 61-54, Thomas, a 6-8 forward, tipped in a missed three-point attempt and drew a foul to boost the lead back to nine.
Classmate Sonny Weems, a junior college transfer from Arkansas-Fort Smith, chipped in 12 points, three rebounds and three assists while freshman guard Patrick Beverley added nine points, four rebounds and two assists.
Point guard Gary Ervin contributed 12 points, including a key three-pointer with 42 seconds left to give the Hogs an eight-point edge. Ervin, a transfer from Mississippi State, also dished out six assists with just three turnovers.
Seven-foot center Steven Hill, the SEC’s leading returning shot blocker, swatted five shots and also added five points and four boards. Six-ten forward Darian Townes also contributed six points, four rebounds and three blocks.
Arkansas built a 16-6 advantage early, but California got hot from three-point range and mounted a 19-4 run to take a 25-20 lead with 7:37 to go in the opening half.
During the first 10:23 of the half, the Vulcans shot 5-of-7 from beyond-the-arc with all five coming from different players.
The Razorbacks closed the half with a 19-3 run of their own. UA was ignited by three-pointers from Beverley, Hunter and junior Preston Cranford, and built the halftime score to 39-28.
Weems and Beverley, along with a stingy UA defense, fueled the Hog comeback, scoring six and five points, respectively. The Razorbacks held the Vulcans scoreless over the last 4:42 of the first half.
California saw seven players score at least seven points. The Vulcans were led by Kelvin Green with 14 points on 4-of-6 shooting, including 4-of-4 on three-pointers, and five rebounds. Theron Colao added 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting, including going 3-of-3 from three-point range.
Osborne Gardner chipped in 11 points on 5-of-12 shooting with six rebounds.
Arkansas returns to the court Friday when it hosts Southeast Missouri State in the season-opener at Bud Walton Arena. The Razorbacks and Redhawks are set for a 7:05 p.m. tip.
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