Photographs by Andy Shupe
Arkansas' Daryl Macon (left) drives to the basket as he is pressured by Vanderbilt's Maxwell Evans (10) Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018, during the first half of play in Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville.
Sunday, February 11, 2018
FAYETTEVILLE -- The Arkansas Razorbacks were 5 of 5 to open Saturday night's game against Vanderbilt.
It was five trips down the court and five turnovers for the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville without even getting a shot off.
"I was like, 'Who's team is this? I mean, who's coaching this team?' " Razorbacks Coach Mike Anderson said. "That's what I was saying to myself."
Things got better for the Razorbacks once they stopped turning the ball over.
Arkansas overcame its sloppy start and beat the Commodores 72-54 before an announced crowd of 11,524.
"I think we were a little too giddy at the beginning," said senior guard Daryl Macon, who led the Razorbacks with 21 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists. "A little too hyped. We had to settle down and play ball."
The Razorbacks' five turnovers in the first 2:34 were as many as they had for the entire game when they beat Colorado State 92-66 earlier this season.
Freshman forward Daniel Gafford had two of the Razorbacks' turnovers to start the game, but he more than made up for that by finishing with 16 points, 9 rebounds and 7 blocked shots.
"I think we were going too fast," Gafford said. "We were trying to get things going that weren't there at the time."
Arkansas senior forward Arlando Cook, who started with Adrio Bailey out with the flu, had two turnovers in the first two minutes, came out and didn't play the rest of the game.
The Razorbacks (17-8, 6-6 SEC) came into the game averaging 12.2 turnovers.
"One of the things we always do is value the basketball, and the turnovers, they were kind of disturbing," Anderson said. "I don't know if it was the rhythm or just being flat or what have you.
"We weren't sure on our passes. Some of the balls went right through guys' hands. But we were able to shake it off."
Vanderbilt led 4-0 after Arkansas' turnover barrage.
"I was hoping we could have capitalized more on them on the other end, because we knew it was going to pass quickly and they were going to start making shots," Commodores Coach Bryce Drew said. "Unfortunately, we couldn't get a big enough lead to keep the lead."
Arkansas outscored Vanderbilt 15-0 over a 5:08 span, including eight points by senior guard Jaylen Barford, to take a 22-13 lead with five minutes left in the first half.
Vanderbilt (9-16, 3-9) pulled within 30-24 on Saben Lee's three-pointer with 18:51 left, but they couldn't draw any closer.
Barford hit back-to-back three-pointers and Macon hit a three-pointer to push the Razorbacks' lead to 48-32 at the 11:39 mark.
Vanderbilt pulled within 48-36 on a drive by Larry Austin.
Macon hit a three-pointer and passed to Gafford for a dunk to push Arkansas' lead to 53-36 with 8:08 left, and the Razorbacks stayed in control the rest of the way.
Barford scored 16 points and senior guard Anton Beard added 7 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists for the Razorbacks.
Riley LaChance, Jeff Roberson, Saben Lee, Maxwell Evans and Larry Austin each scored eight points for Vanderbilt.
The Commodores shot 25 percent (14 of 56) from the field, including 4 of 26 in the first half.
"I thought defensively we were on point," Anderson said. "We held them to 54 points. That speaks volumes about our defensive intensity."
Vanderbilt had scored 81 points in each of its past four games.
"We've been shooting the ball really, really well," Drew said. "For whatever reason, the ball just wasn't going in the hole tonight and it became contagious.
"Kind of like when you make them it becomes contagious. ... The more open we got the more we missed them, which is very odd for this team. Because usually that's not the case."
Roberson and LaChance, averaging 16.3 and 13.0 points, respectively, shot a combined 5 of 21.
"We did a good job of really being with them," Anderson said. "When they caught the ball we were right there.
"We just tried to make them uncomfortable and get them out of rhythm. They had some shots, but they just didn't fall for them. They normally shoot the ball extremely well.
"I thought it had more to do with we made them rush it."
The Razorbacks shot 46.6 percent from the field (27 of 58) once they stopped turning the ball over. They had 10 turnovers in the final 34:09 to finish with 15.
"We came out and threw the ball everywhere," Anderson said. "But then we found a nice little rhythm in the first half."
The Razorbacks led 28-21 at halftime.
"In the second half I thought it looked more like the tempo we wanted to create with our defense," Anderson said. "Our defense ... was stifling."
The Commodores hit 3 of 26 three-pointers.
"We made a point to say we're going to guard the three-point line," Anderson said. "Make sure we'd be there to contest the shooters, and I thought we did a good job.
"In the second half even moreso. We protected the rim. Daniel blocked shots and he changed a lot of shots, too, and we got those rebounds and we were able to get out in transition."
The Razorbacks outrebounded the Commodores 43-37.
"It was just a good team win," Anderson said. "It wasn't a thing of beauty, but I thought that second half was really, really played well by our team."
Sports on 02/11/2018
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