Happy homecoming: Macon, Beard combine for 36 points in Hogs' win in North Little Rock

By: Bob Holt
Published: Sunday, December 17, 2017
Arkansas guard Daryl Macon (4) steals the ball from Troy guard Wesley Person (3) during their game at Verizon Arena in North Little Rock on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017.
Arkansas guard Daryl Macon (4) steals the ball from Troy guard Wesley Person (3) during their game at Verizon Arena in North Little Rock on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017.

It was happy homecoming for Daryl Macon and Anton Beard on Saturday night in North Little Rock.

Macon and Beard -- the Arkansas Razorbacks' senior guards from Little Rock and North Little Rock, respectively -- combined for 36 points to lead their team to an 88-63 victory before an announced crowd of 16,416 at Verizon Arena.

Macon led the Razorbacks (8-2) with 25 points, 5 assists and 3 steals without a turnover in 30 minutes. Beard had 11 points, 2 assists, 2 rebounds and 1 steal in 28 minutes.

It was the final game in the Little Rock area for Macon and Beard, and Razorbacks Coach Mike Anderson said there was some concern they might be too high emotionally.

Instead, Macon and Beard got their points in the flow of the offense, didn't force shots and played tough defense.

"It was real good to see that," Anderson said. "I'm sure they had some butterflies, but they came out and did what we do in practice.

"I thought they brought their practice to the game."

It was Macon's second-highest scoring game this season after his 27-point effort against Oklahoma.

"Daryl had a big night coming home," Anderson said. "You really enjoy seeing that take place.

"The thing I really like about it is he did other things, too. He took care of the ball and he made some plays defensively."

Macon hit 8 of 14 shots, including 5 of 9 three-pointers, and 4 of 4 free throws. He was 10 of 30 from the field the previous three games, including 4 of 12 against Minnesota.

"It felt good to finally find my shot again," Macon said. "But I give a big shout-out to my teammates for finding me, getting me those good looks.

"It felt good out there tonight. It was a great environment."

It was the second-largest crowd for a Razorbacks game in Verizon Arena, surpassed only by the 17,021 who saw No. 6 Oklahoma State beat the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville on Dec. 22, 2001.

"It was a nice win," said Beard, who hit 5 of 10 shots. "We came out with the mindset that we wanted to make sure the crowd had a good time at the game.

"So we had a good amount of energy during the game. We just wanted to keep that up for the fans."

Daniel Gafford, a 6-11 freshman from El Dorado, added 10 points, 6 rebounds and 3 blocked shots for the Razorbacks.

Arkansas senior guard Jaylen Barford, who came into the game averaging a team-high 19.9 points, shot 2 of 11 from the field and finished with a season-low 7 points, but had 7 rebounds and 5 assists.

Sophomore forward Adrio Bailey finished with 10 points -- capping the game with a dunk -- and senior forward Trey Thompson scored eight points for the Razorbacks.

Senior guard Wesley Person Jr. led Troy (5-6) with 25 points. Junior forward Alex Hicks added 16 points for the Trojans.

Person hit a three-pointer to pull the Trojans within 45-30 with 16:41 left.

Arkansas rebuilt its lead to 53-32 on two baskets by Thompson -- including an alley-oop dunk with an assist from Barford -- along with a layup by Beard and Macon's two free throws.

Troy didn't closer than 17 points the rest of the game.

"The first thing that impresses you about Arkansas is their depth," Troy Coach Phil Cunningham said. "They bring guys off the bench who can score, who can rebound, who can defend. They just keep bringing bodies at you.

"I know against us that really stands out, but I think they'll be able to do it against teams on their level as well."

Troy hit its first three shots -- including two three-pointers by Juan Davis -- to jump out to an 8-2 lead.

The Razorbacks responded with an 18-2 run, with Macon hitting back-to-back three-pointers and twice making steals and converting them into layups to move ahead 20-10 with 13:19 left in the half.

The Trojans rallied to pull within 20-19 on three consecutive three-pointers, two by Person and one by Javan Johnson.

Arkansas then outscored Troy 21-2 over a 6:10 span to take a 41-21 lead at the 4:18 mark of the half.

"After Troy went up early, we started understanding we needed to get the ball inside," Anderson said. "It seemed like we got in a nice rhythm, and it started because of our defense."

Anderson said the Razorbacks had 50 deflections.

"Any time we're that active, some good things are going to take place for us," he said. "We came up with a lot of those loose balls."

Troy went 7:56 without scoring during the Razorbacks' decisive 21-2 run.

"The game got away from us there midway through the first half," Cunningham said. "They really got it going and made some threes against our zone.

"They extended their press a little more than we thought they would. We had a stretch there where we didn't handle their press at all."

Macon said he's not worried whether the Razorbacks -- who have been receiving some votes in The Associated Press and coaches' polls -- will be ranked this week.

"I don't really care about the rankings," Macon said. "You're going to feel us, so it's cool."

The Razorbacks shot 53.1 percent from the field (34 of 64) and had 19 assists. Nine players had at least one assist.

"None of us are selfish," Macon said. "If one person has it going on, we're going to go to him. We just try to share the ball out there."

Cunningham, a former Mississippi State assistant coach, said he expects Arkansas to win a lot of games in the SEC and that they'll be especially tough to beat when Macon is shooting the way he did Saturday night.

"You've got a chance if Macon's off," Cunningham said. "But when he's on, it's tough to beat them, because he's a shot-maker."

Game sketch

RECORDS Arkansas 8-2, Troy 5-6 STARS Arkansas senior guards Daryl Macon (25 points, 5 assists and 3 steals) and Anton Beard (11 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists) TURNING POINT The Razorbacks outscored the Trojans 21-2 over a 6:10 span to take a 41-21 lead with 4:18 left in the first half. KEY STAT Arkansas had a 50-16 edge on points in the lane. UP NEXT Arkansas plays Oral Roberts University at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Walton Arena in Fayetteville.

Sports on 12/17/2017

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