Razorback basketball report:

Offense stuck late vs. WKU

By: Tom Murphy
Published: Friday, December 14, 2018
Daniel Gafford of Arkansas shoots as Charles Bassey of Western Kentucky defends in the second half of a game Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018, at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville.
Photo by Ben Goff
Daniel Gafford of Arkansas shoots as Charles Bassey of Western Kentucky defends in the second half of a game Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018, at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- The Arkansas Razorbacks produced shoddy ball movement in Saturday's 78-77 loss to Western Kentucky, and it showed up in several of their possessions down the stretch, as well as on the stat sheet.

The Razorbacks (6-2) had 10 assists against the Hilltoppers, their lowest total since posting eight in the season-opening 73-71 loss in overtime against Texas.

The Hogs are averaging 22.2 assists per game in their 6 victories and 9.0 assists in their losses.

"Most of the possessions we had, it was just sticking in one person's hands," center Daniel Gafford said. "We had like 10 assists and one guy had seven of them, so that lets you know the ball stuck in one person's hands and we didn't move on offense as much.

"Basically, when we come down we have to move the ball to where we get good cuts, certain baskets and all that. Basically coming down the stretch we've got to move the ball. If we don't move the ball our offense gets stuck."

Coach Mike Anderson said the Razorbacks' intensity was not where it needed to be against Western Kentucky.

"I thought we kind of played at their tempo," he said. "We always talk about creating havoc and not letting people do what they want to do.

"We, for the most part, played a half-court game. Our pressure defense, even in the half court, we didn't get after it, so I think from that standpoint I think the lesson learned is you can't just show up no matter who you play. You've got to come with it each and every game."

Detectors in play

Metal detectors will be used at the entrances of North Little Rock's Verizon Arena on Saturday, and UA officials suggest that fans arrive early. Doors will open at 5:30 p.m., 90 minutes prior to tipoff of Texas-San Antonio against the Razorbacks.

Floor game

Arkansas' Daniel Gafford said if he had it to do over again, he would not have fallen to the court looking for a foul after taking a hook from Western Kentucky center Charles Bassey late in a one-point game.

After Bassey pivoted into Gafford, the Hogs' 6-10 sophomore fell but did not draw a foul call. Forward Adrio Bailey was forced to leave his man and defend Bassey a few feet from the basket. Bassey gave a pass to Marek Nelson for an unguarded layup with 19 seconds left for a 78-77 lead for the Hilltoppers.

"I just know in that situation I need to stay on my feet, be strong," Gafford said. "If I would have stayed on my feet they never would have got that basket on the backside, because 'Dro had to come help when I fell on the ground.

"The moral of the story is I just have to stay on my feet and be solid on defense. ... He hooked me a little bit, but we only had two refs. I wasn't expecting to see that foul anyway."

Hospital visit

The Razorbacks will visit Arkansas Children's Hospital in Little Rock prior to Saturday's game against Texas-San Antonio.

"Our guys get a better kick out of that than the kids there," Coach Mike Anderson said. "Just to put a smile on their face. Our guys will go in there and they'll have Santa Claus hats and they'll take gifts. It's kind of neat."

Twin bill

The Razorbacks began advertising Thursday their Signing Day on the Hill event with Coach Chad Morris, which is part of a football-basketball doubleheader on Wednesday.

Morris and Arkansas assistants will attend the signing-day reception at the Basketball Performance Center from 5:30-6:30 p.m., with a program to follow. The $30 tickets for that event also will provide access to the Georgia Tech at Arkansas men's basketball game, which will tip off across the street at Walton Arena at 8 p.m.

Series history

The Razorbacks hold a 5-0 advantage in their series against Texas-San Antonio, including a 104-71 victory over the Roadrunners in their last meeting on Jan. 4, 2014. Freshman Bobby Portis went 8 of 8 from the floor and had 19 points and 10 rebounds in that game. Ky Madden added 15 points for the Hogs, who committed a season-low seven turnovers.

The teams will meet for the second time in central Arkansas, following a 74-67 decision at Barton Coliseum in Little Rock on Dec. 18, 1984.

The first meeting between the teams resulted in a 71-42 Arkansas victory in San Antonio on Nov. 30, 1981.

Streak stopper

The Razorbacks' 78-77 loss to Western Kentucky last week snapped a run of 28 consecutive nonconference victories at Walton Arena, which was the longest in the SEC by nine games.

Arkansas had also won 46 consecutive games when leading at halftime, dating to a 76-60 road loss at Ole Miss on Feb. 13, 2016.

Tip-ins

• Coach Mike Anderson celebrated his 59th birthday on Wednesday.

• Jalen Harris' assist average of 7.3 per game, which ranks seventh in the nation, puts the sophomore on pace for 226 assists, which is seven more than the school record of 219 by Kareem Reid (1995-96).

• Freshman Isaiah Joe ranks fifth in the country with 4.13 three-pointers made per game. He is on pace to hit 128 three-pointers, which would break the school record of 102 made by Scotty Thurman in 1994-95.

• Arkansas' blocked shot total was increased from six to nine from its 98-74 victory at Colorado State on Dec. 5 following tape review and confirmation from Rams' officials, including three apiece by Daniel Gafford and Reggie Chaney.

Sports on 12/14/2018

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