<
>

Arkansas 73, South Carolina 59

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) -- Jonathon Modica dribbled near midcourt
as the clock ticked down, ignoring the crowd's pleas to try one
more 3-pointer.

He'd already done plenty.

Modica scored a career-high 37 points Saturday to lead Arkansas
to an easy 73-59 win over South Carolina. He had 20 in the first
half as the Razorbacks rolled to a 39-21 lead, and when the
Gamecocks rallied briefly late in the second, Modica scored eight
straight to put the game out of reach.

"We came into a must-win game and I felt like I owed it to my
team to step up and have a good performance," Modica said.

Arkansas was coming off a 78-76 loss at Kentucky last Sunday in
which the Wildcats rallied from an 18-point deficit. The Razorbacks
(15-6, 4-4 Southeastern Conference) have lost four league games by
a combined 12 points. Their four wins were by 12, 16, 13 and 14.

South Carolina pulled to 65-55 with 2:55 remaining, but Modica
had a driving 3-point play, a layup off a fast break and a
3-pointer to push the lead back to 18.

"He was cutting and moving, and he was hard to guard,"
Arkansas coach Stan Heath said. "Give his teammates some credit
too for knowing that he had a hot hand and riding him out. We just
jumped on his back."

Modica finished 11-of-17 from the field and 6-of-9 from 3-point
range, surpassing his previous career high of 33 points set in 2004
against Mississippi State. He scored the most points by an Arkansas
player since Alex Dillard had 39 against Delaware State during the
1993-94 season.

"Any shot that Modica took today was a good shot," forward
Charles Thomas said. "He really created a spark for us that set
the tone."

Neither team had played since last weekend, and both struggled
offensively early. South Carolina led 6-2 before Modica made the
first of four first-half 3-pointers with 15:04 remaining. That shot
started a 7-0 run that put Arkansas ahead for good.

Modica was open repeatedly against the Gamecocks' zone, and his
second 3-pointer made it 21-10. After South Carolina called time
out, Modica jumped onto the edge of the press table to save a loose
ball, then raced downcourt to finish the break with a layup.

Modica made back-to-back 3-pointers to put the Razorbacks ahead
35-15 with 3:56 to play. His six 3-pointers in the game also set a
career high.

Thomas scored 13 points for Arkansas, and Ronnie Brewer added
10. Tarence Kinsey scored 14 points for the Gamecocks (11-10, 2-6).

Arkansas coach Stan Heath adjusted his lineup, starting Eric
Ferguson and Vincent Hunter. Ferguson replaced Dontell Jefferson at
point guard, although Jefferson still played 22 minutes, finishing
with two points, four assists and no turnovers.

Darian Townes has started lately at power forward but was
replaced by Hunter. Heath said he planned to start Thomas, but the
sophomore told him before the game he felt comfortable coming off
the bench.

Townes had only two rebounds in his previous two games. He was
pulled late in the first half Saturday after failing to grab a
rebound following a free throw. Townes and Heath then had a brief
but heated exchange.

"I'm tired of free throw situations where we're supposed to be
getting those rebounds and we're getting pushed underneath the
basket and we're not getting them," Heath said. "And a lot of
times he's the culprit. It just isn't acceptable."

Townes remained on the bench for a while before returning in the
second half. He finished with a team-high six rebounds in 11
minutes.

"I said, 'I'm going to give you one more chance,' and I gave
him one more chance," Heath said. "And he responded."

South Carolina forward Renaldo Balkman played with a brace on
his left knee, which he sprained at practice earlier this week. He
had two points in six minutes.

South Carolina had 10 assists and 15 turnovers.

"Modica's shooting got us out of sync. He really got the fans
into the game," Kinsey said. "He was on fire and we couldn't put
it out."

Both teams play again Wednesday night. South Carolina is at No.
8 Florida, and Arkansas is at No. 24 LSU.

"The best part of their season lies ahead," South Carolina
coach Dave Odom said of Arkansas. "There may be a more talented
team in this league, but I'm not sure."

Comments

NCAAM News