Wednesday, February 14, 2018
OXFORD, Miss. -- For a change, it wasn't the senior guards who carried the Arkansas Razorbacks to a victory.
It was the Razorbacks' freshman forwards this time.
The Razorbacks beat Ole Miss 75-64 on Tuesday night at the Pavilion before an announced crowd of 6,023 even though the Rebels held Jaylen Barford and Daryl Macon -- senior guards who came into the game averaging 36.1 points combined -- to 17 points.
Freshman forwards Daniel Gafford and Darious Hall combined for 33 points -- 16 more than their average -- to lead the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.
Gafford overcame early foul problems and finished with 19 points and six rebounds in 20 minutes. Hall matched his career-high with 14 points and had a career-high 11 rebounds in 22 minutes.
"I'm very happy for them to get that," Barford, who scored 13 points, said of the key contributions from Gafford and Hall. "They were hot, so we were just feeding them."
Gafford picked up two fouls in the game's first 1:58 and went to the bench, but he didn't pick up another foul.
Razorbacks Coach Mike Anderson put Gafford back in for two minutes late in the first half, and he scored five points to help Arkansas take a 34-23 halftime lead.
Gafford then dominated inside in the second half when he hit 5 of 6 shots and 4 of 6 free throws.
"Gafford's a really, really good player," Ole Miss Coach Andy Kennedy said. "I know everybody across the country has taken notice of that.
"He's long, he's athletic. But the thing that I appreciate the most about him is his activity level. He's not a watcher. He's engaged in the action.
"With two fouls, he's smart enough even as a freshman to play aggressively without putting himself in position to pick up his third. He's a tremendous player."
Ole Miss, which relies heavily on its guards, had no answer for the 6-11 Gafford inside.
"The big fella really went off," Anderson said. "He really did a good job of establishing himself. We made him a priority down there, and that opened things for other guys."
The Razorbacks (18-8, 7-6 SEC) won their third consecutive game and improved to 2-6 on the road.
Arkansas shot 41.9 percent from the field (26 of 62) while Ole Miss shot 29 percent (18 of 62).
The teams did not score a basket for a 7:07 stretch of the first half as they combined to missed 22 consecutive shots -- 10 by the Razorbacks and 12 by the Rebels.
"People may say it was an ugly game, but when you win on the road, it's not ugly," Anderson said. "So we'll take it."
The Rebels (11-15, 4-9) lost their six consecutive game. They were playing for the first time since Kennedy announced Monday he will step down effective at the end of the season
"This is as bad as I've seen it in my 400 games," Kennedy said. "I apologize. My words are ringing hollow. I can't reach them."
Senior guard Deandre Burnett led Ole Miss with 24 points. Senior guard Markel Crawford added 17 points.
"Every coach selfishly wants his guys to play for him," Kennedy said. "I have not been able to get that out of this group.
"This is beneath the standard that is Ole Miss. This is beneath the work that we have put into this program. This is unacceptable on every level."
Despite the Rebels' shooting problems, they pulled within 53-52 on Devontae Shuler's three-pointer with 7:57 left.
Arkansas responded by outscoring Ole Miss 18-1 over a 4:39 span to move ahead 71-53 with 3:00 left.
Anderson said switching to a matchup zone defense helped the Razorbacks pull away.
"We made them take some tough, contested shots," Anderson said. "We rebounded the misses, and we ran out of it as well."
It was Gafford's high-scoring game since he scored 25 against Fresno State on Nov. 17.
"It felt good," Gafford said. "My performance was needed tonight, because we were pretty much dominant on the inside. They couldn't guard us, so we just had to pound it inside."
Nine Razorbacks scored, including senior guard Anton Beard with 13 points.
Macon was held to four points on 1-of-6 shooting after he had scored 20 or more points in the previous seven games. It was his lowest-scoring game of the season.
"There's going to be some things where it's going to flow and there's going to be some nights like this here," Anderson said. "But that's why you have teammates. It's a team sport."
Barford said Gafford did a good job of adjusting to the officiating after he drew two fouls.
"It just hit me that I needed to start playing smarter when it comes to playing defense," Gafford said. "I've got to move my feet more and start jumping straight up instead of sideways.
"Coach tells me all the time when I jump sideways, don't go back to the high school ways. I need to start playing like more of a college player on defense to stay out of foul trouble."
RECORDS Arkansas 18-8, 7-6 SEC; Ole Miss 11-15, 4-9 STARS Arkansas freshman forwards Daniel Gafford (19 points, 6 rebounds) and Darious Hall (14 points, 11 rebounds and 3 assists) TURNING POINT The Razorbacks outscored the Rebels 18-1 over a 4:38 span to take a 71-53 lead with 3:00 left. KEY STAT Ole Miss shot 29 percent (18 of 62) from the field. UP NEXT Arkansas plays Texas A&M at 3 p.m. Saturday at Walton Arena in Fayetteville.
Sports on 02/14/2018
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