Lahaina, Hawaii A year ago, the Arkansas halfcourt offense was so dreadful that it was part of athletic director Frank Broyles' decision to tell Stan Heath he had to add a former college head coach to his staff to turn things around.
Enter former Akron coach Dan Hipsher, who has installed a motion offense for the Razorbacks. Still, to be at their best, the Razorbacks must apply fullcourt pressure and force turnovers to get into transition, which is when they are at their best.
Arkansas played the last game Monday night and didn't have the energy to play their typical pressure in Tuesday's second-round game against Kansas University.
Still, the Razorbacks had enough to defeat Kansas, 65-64.
"The legs weren't quite there," Heath said, asked why they didn't play pressure defense. "We were pulling on our shorts a little. Early in the game, I thought we had some lingering effects from the UConn game."
In the end, Arkansas proved to be the more experienced team. Senior guard Dontell Jefferson hit a 15-footer on his team's final possession, then blocked Jeff Hawkins' shot at the other end.
"I don't think last year we would have knocked off a team with this much talent," Arkansas junior guard Ronnie Brewer said.
An All-American candidate whose father, Ron Brewer, starred at Arkansas as one of the famed Triplets (Sidney Moncrief, Marvin Delph), he scored 17 of his game-high 23 points in the second half.
Brandon Rush kept him in check in the first half, and C.J. Giles prevented him from getting off a shot on the final possession. Ronnie Brewer got the ball into the right hands, passing to Jefferson for the winning shot.
Said Heath: "I thought that was a big win for our team and our program. We had a big problem last year closing out games. This just shows how far we've come from last season to this season."
KU led, 31-27, at the half.
"I thought Kansas wanted it more in the first half, and I thought we wanted it more in the second half," Heath said.