College Basketball:

Early hole not doom this time for Hogs

By: Bob Holt
Published: Wednesday, December 6, 2017
Arkansas center Daniel Gafford dunks the ball during a game against Colorado State on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017, in Fayetteville.
Photo by J.T. Wampler
Arkansas center Daniel Gafford dunks the ball during a game against Colorado State on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017, in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- The Arkansas Razorbacks fell behind Colorado State by 11 points in the opening minutes of Tuesday night's game, just like they did at Houston on Saturday.

But unlike the Houston game, the Razorbacks came back with a vengeance.

The University of Arkansas, Fayetteville rallied to beat Colorado State 92-66 at Walton Arena before an announced crowd of 7,882 after losing at Houston 91-65.

"I think the fact they lost to Houston, we caught this team at the wrong time," Colorado State Coach Larry Eustachy said. "They certainly played the right team at the right time in us."

Senior guard Jaylen Barford and sophomore guard C.J. Jones led Arkansas (6-2) with 19 points apiece.

Barford added five rebounds and three assists. Jones matched his career high in scoring. He also had 19 points against Connecticut earlier this season.

Freshman forward Daniel Gafford had 14 points, 6 rebounds and 2 blocked shots for the Razorbacks. Senior guards Anton Beard and Daryl Macon each scored nine points, and freshman guard Darious Hall scored eight.

Junior guard Prentiss Nixon led Colorado State (4-5) with 31 points.

"Probably 33 minutes of that game were really good," Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson said. "The first five or six seemed like a hangover from Houston. It seemed like we were playing lethargic."

The Razorbacks never recovered after Houston took an 11-0 lead, but Gafford, Jones and Hall provided a spark off the bench to help them overcome a 13-2 lead by the Rams.

Gafford came into the game at the 15:09 mark of the first half and blocked a shot by Nixon, then dunked on the other end.

Gafford scored eight points, Hall hit two three-pointers, and Jones scored six points to fuel a 24-3 run by the Razorbacks that put them ahead 26-16 with 8:28 left in the half.

"Coach was just telling us the whole time to come in with energy," Jones said. "Get a couple stops. Well, multiple stops actually, and we did that."

Colorado State missed six shots and had seven turnovers while going scoreless for an 8:19 span. The Rams finished with 19 turnovers and shot 36.5 percent (19 of 52) from the field.

"We've lost five times all in this way," Eustachy said. "We cannot get our game onto somebody else's court or even a neutral court."

The Razorbacks did a good job of speeding up the Rams to take control of the game.

"Make no mistake about it, we've led our league [the Mountain West] in scoring five out of the last six years, so we try to score," Eustachy said. "But I think this was way too much Arkansas.

"Mike, he's a tremendous coach. If I had the players he had, I'd play that way, too. He gets you going fast.

"We're too young and can't make decisions well enough. They got us. They got their game onto their court, and we certainly didn't get our game onto their court."

Anderson said the Razorbacks settled for jump shots the first few minutes before their defense helped them create easy scoring opportunities.

"Our defense made it a 94-feet game," Anderson said. "We were touching the basketball and all of a sudden we were scoring on the other end.

"Suddenly we're playing like we've played all year long. But it starts with defense."

Arkansas had a season-low five turnovers with 22 assists on 35 baskets and shot 52.2 percent from the field.

"We were sharing the basketball and trusting," Anderson said. "Like when C.J. got open and missed a shot, they got it right back to him and he has no conscience and knocked it down. That's a good thing."

Barford scored five points in the final 34 seconds of the first half -- on a three-pointer and two free throws -- as the Razorbacks pushed their halftime lead to 47-29.

Arkansas hit 17 of 27 shots to close the half after starting 1 of 8.

The Razorbacks also scored the first five points of the second half -- on Macon's three-point play and a jump shot by senior forward Dustin Thomas -- to move ahead 52-29 with 18:54 left.

Arkansas led by as many as 29 points, 78-49, on freshman forward Gabe Osabuohien's rebound basket with 5:43 left.

Gafford said there was no sense of panic on the bench when Colorado State jumped ahead 13-2.

"Being in situations like that, you've got to train yourself not to panic, because if you panic, they're going to extend the lead even more," Gafford said. "So we just had to calm down and come together and be able to loosen that lead up some."

Eustachy said he didn't expect the Rams to be ahead by 11 points in the first six minutes.

"It was really fool's gold, the way I felt," he said. "I was surprised Arkansas started out the way they did, but they quickly turned it up."

Game sketch

RECORDS Arkansas 6-2; Colorado State 4-5

STARS Arkansas sophomore guard C.J. Jones (19 points), senior guard Jaylen Barford (19 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists) and freshman forward Daniel Gafford (14 points, 6 rebounds, 2 blocked shots). Colorado State junior guard Prentiss Nixon (31 points)

TURNING POINT The Razorbacks outscored the Rams 24-3 over a 7:22 span to take a 26-16 lead.

KEY STAT Arkansas outscored Colorado State 27-6 in points off turnovers. UP NEXT Arkansas plays No. 14 Minnesota at 5:45 p.m. on Saturday at Walton Arena in Fayetteville.

— Bob Holt


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