8:05 PM ET, February 4, 2004
Bud Walton Arena, Fayetteville, Arkansas
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) -- Arkansas continued it recent good fortune at home with a dominating 74-52 victory over error-prone Auburn on Wednesday night, winning for the third straight time at Bud Walton Arena.But the Razorbacks have been awful on the road in the Southeastern Conference, losing four games by an average of 15.5 points per loss.Arkansas (11-8, 3-5 SEC) will have back-to-back chances to find a win on the road at LSU this Saturday and at Tennessee next Wednesday."Hopefully we can go to LSU and find it, but being at home we're just more comfortable," said Michael Jones, who led Arkansas with 17 points off the bench against Auburn."We're playing as hard as we can. When we go on the road we get a lot of negative energy and we get a little bit rattled. We've got to learn how to handle that. It's a mental block. We're going to bottle this win, take it over to LSU and pop it open on them," he said.The Razorbacks jumped out to an early 20-point lead and kept it throughout the game. Matt Jones made his first start and had a career-high 11 points and Olu Famutimi had seven points and four assists in his first start in 11 games."I just wanted to ignite and re-energize the battery a little bit," coach Stan Heath said of the lineup changes.When normal starters Eric Ferguson and Billy Pharis came off the bench, they kept the energy flowing and Michael Jones had his second straight good game at home.The junior made all four of his 3-pointers in the second half to help Arkansas climb out of last in the Western Division and leave the Tigers (11-8, 2-6) alone in last."My teammates were looking for me," said Jones, who tied a career-high with 18 points in the win over Vanderbilt on Jan. 24. "They said if I got hot, they would be looking for me. I started knocking it down and my man (Ferguson) and Ronnie Brewer needed some assists."Arkansas is now 3-1 in home conference games, but 0-4 on the road.In his first start since joining the team after football season, Matt Jones added three steals and two assists to his 11 points before fouling out with 5:05 remaining.The Tigers have now lost five of six, with the only win a 70-63 victory over Arkansas at Auburn on Jan. 21. Three of those five losses were by a combined 11 points to South Carolina, No. 21 Florida and No. 7 Mississippi State.Freshman center Dwayne Curtis led Auburn with 11 points in his first start after entering the game with just 55 minutes played all year.Auburn led 8-4 before imploding under the weight of 16 first-half turnovers and poor shooting. Arkansas turned the Tigers' miscues into 18 points, using a 17-0 run over 8:09 of the half to help build a 36-16 halftime lead."When Arkansas got the momentum going, they got an extra pop in their step and they played great," Auburn coach Cliff Ellis said. "They had a lot of energy out there. Our guys started feeling sorry for themselves and we started dragging."Auburn only made 6-of-22 field goals in the first half and finished 15-of-53, including 6-of-26 on 3-pointers. The Tigers only had two turnovers in the second half, but the damage had already been done.The Razorbacks had five assists in the 71-50 loss at Georgia last Saturday, but they matched that with 9:20 left in the half when Ferguson took a quick 3-pointer after a defensive rebound by Famutimi and they had 10 by halftime.Arkansas finished the game with 20 assists and just 12 turnovers."We shared the ball tonight," Heath said. "It was completely opposite from three days ago. We really looked like a good basketball team with our execution offensively."All nine players who played in the first half scored as Arkansas pushed its lead to 24 points on a series of Auburn turnovers that led to quick points and thunderous applause from a season-low crowd of 7,821.Freezing rain and snow helped cut attendance almost in half from the season average of 14,343.