Freshman's spark jolt to Razorbacks

By: Bob Holt
Published: Friday, February 9, 2018
Arkansas forward Gabe Osabuohien goes up for a shot during a game against Bucknell on Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017, in Fayetteville.
Photo by J.T. Wampler
Arkansas forward Gabe Osabuohien goes up for a shot during a game against Bucknell on Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017, in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- Freshman Gabe Osabuohien gave the Arkansas Razorbacks a shot without taking one.

Osabuohien (pronounced oh-say-BOY-en) didn't attempt a field goal against South Carolina, but he provided a welcome shot of energy on defense to help the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville beat the Gamecocks 81-65 on Tuesday night in Walton Arena.

Up next

Arkansas men vs. Vanderbilt

WHEN 7:30 p.m. Saturday

WHERE Walton Arena, Fayetteville

RECORDS Arkansas 16-8, 5-6 SEC; Vanderbilt 9-15, 3-8

SERIES Arkansas leads 23-12

TELEVISION SEC Network

RADIO Razorback Sports Network

The 6-8 forward -- who played at Southwest Christian Academy in Little Rock and was a late addition to Arkansas' recruiting class in May -- played a season-high 17 minutes off the bench and made key contributions that didn't show up in the box score.

"I think it was great for Gabe and us as a team because he brought a lot of energy," Razorbacks guard Jaylen Baford said. "He brought things that we haven't been doing lately, like getting charges."

Osabuohien took two charges within a 1:29 span in the second half to help fuel a 13-2 run by the Razorbacks that pushed their lead to 73-56.

After Osabuohien took a charge by Hassani Gravett with 8:04 to play, Arkansas guard Daryl Macon was fouled and hit three free throws for a 69-54 lead.

At the 6:36 mark, Osabuohien took a charge by Justin Minaya and then passed to Daniel Gafford for a dunk that made it 71-56.

"It's contagious, man, that energy level," Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson said of Osabuohien's impact. "The intensity goes up."

The Razorbacks' decisive run started when Osabuohien grabbed an offensive rebound and passed to Barford, who hit a three-point basket.

Osabuohien also forced a turnover with 12:24 left when he trapped Felipe Haase in front of the South Carolina bench, resulting in a five-second call.

The Gamecocks had 10 of their 18 turnovers on 29 possessions when Osabuohien was in the game, and Arkansas outscored South Carolina 37-29 in that span.

"I have to give a big shout-out to Gabe," Macon said. "He's been patient, waiting on his time to play and he was ready when his number was called."

Osabuohien's number hadn't been called often prior to Tuesday night. He played a combined 52 minutes in the first 23 games. His only previous appearance in an SEC game had been the last 43 seconds of Texas A&M's 80-66 victory over Arkansas on Jan. 30.

Anderson was looking for a spark after the Razorbacks followed up the Texas A&M game with a 94-86 loss at LSU and he said Osabuohien earned a shot to play significant minutes because of how he has been practicing.

Osabuohien was Arkansas' first substitution when he went into the South Carolina game for Adrio Bailey with 15:53 to play in the first half.

"Gabe's improved to the point now that it's his time," Anderson said. "He got those minutes and then the really did some positive things with them.

"I think he's hungry and that gets contagious."

Anderson said he didn't instruct Osabuohien not to shoot against South Carolina.

Osabuohien had an opportunity to take a shot, Anderson said, but he bobbled the ball and it went out of bounds for a turnover. For the season Osabuohien has hit 5 of 10 shots.

"I'm sure they'll be other opportunities for him," Anderson said. "But he wants to win, and this time of year defense wins."

Osabuohien has taken a team-high seven charges despite being 11th in minutes played with 69.

"When you go over the defensive drills, he's one of those guys that really listens," Anderson said. "His instincts are really, really good, especially with the way we play.

"Our defense is geared to getting people sped up, and if you can get a big guy back there that can read and anticipate and get to those spots when those guys are getting out of control, those are big plays."

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