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Arkansas 80, Rice 61

NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) -- After a relatively quiet first
half, Ronnie Brewer brought the Arkansas Razorbacks back to life
Saturday night.

Brewer, top scorer in the Southeastern Conference, scored 11 of
his 17 points in the second half as Arkansas (8-2) broke away from
a 30-28 halftime lead to claim an 80-61 win over Rice in a contest
between old Southwest Conference members.

"We came out with a different intensity in the second half,"
said Brewer, who also had seven rebounds, five assists, three
blocks and two steals. "We were able to get our press going and
get some easy baskets. We were also able to do a better job on the
boards and that also led to some easy baskets."

Arkansas coach Stan Heath said he had tried to prepare his
players for Rice, but the first half showed his words hadn't
penetrated.

"They didn't listen to what I had to say before the game,"
Heath said.

The opening minutes of the second half decided the outcome. The
Razorbacks forced turnovers on the Owls' first five possessions of
the second half. Less than two minutes into the half, Rice asked
for a 30-second time-out after Arkansas' lead had grown to 40-28 on
a Brewer jumper.

Rice (4-5) answered with a 3-pointer from J.R. Harrison, but it
did not slow the Razorbacks. They followed with an 8-2 run and a
48-33 lead with 14:41 left. Brewer scored half of Arkansas' points
during the 18-5 streak.

"Their defense allowed them to get the tempo where they
wanted," Rice coach Willis Wilson said. "Frankly, we did a really
poor job coming out in the second half. That is not the way we
wanted to play and that is not the things we wanted to do. Their
press should never have bothered us like it did."

Arkansas' largest lead came at 73-46 with 7:49 left.

The Razorbacks put on a balanced scoring performance, with
Darian Townes scoring 16 points, Jonathon Modica 15 and Eric
Ferguson 13.

Rice was led by Morris Almond with a career-high 25. J.R.
Harrison added 15 points.

Almond had 14 points in the first half but didn't score in the
second half until more than 9 minutes had expired.

"It is hard for him to score when we can't get the ball to
him," Wilson said.

After shooting just 35 percent in the first half and being
outrebounded 18-13, Arkansas hit 50 percent of its field-goal
attempts in the second half and finished the game with a 36-30
rebound advantage. Arkansas also turned in its best free-throw
performance of the season, hitting 19-of-23.

The Owls were troubled by nine turnovers, while the Razorbacks
lost the ball only four times.

Rice built a 9-3 lead at the start, but turned the ball over on
four straight possessions in the midst of an 11-0 Razorback run.
Arkansas' largest first-half lead was 26-19 with 7:58 on the clock.
A 9-0 Rice run, sparked by five points from Almond, gave the Owls a
28-26 lead with 3:42 left in the half before Arkansas scored 4
straight points to take a 2-point lead at the half.