Postgame Thoughts: Arkansas 94, Texas A&M 75

By: Scottie Bordelon
Published: Saturday, February 17, 2018
Arkansas guard Jaylen Barford goes up for a shot during a game against Texas A&M on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018, in Fayetteville.
Photo by Ben Goff
Arkansas guard Jaylen Barford goes up for a shot during a game against Texas A&M on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018, in Fayetteville.

— Some thoughts and notes following Arkansas' fourth consecutive win:

Gafford gets revenge

Daniel Gafford said he felt like he got punk'd the first time Arkansas and Texas A&M met, and he was determined to not let it happen again Saturday.

The freshman finished with 18 points - 18.5 points per game in two games this week - on 7 of 8 from the floor and more than held his own against two of the SEC's best forwards in Tyler Davis and Robert Williams. Gafford has now scored in double figures in each of the fives games since the Hogs' loss in College Station, averaging 15 points in that span.

With his performance against the Aggies, on top of 19 points at Ole Miss, he has to be a strong candidate once again for SEC Freshman of the Week. He is playing at a high level of late and it's been pretty special to watch.

Gafford is shooting 71 percent in his last five games. He even opened the game with a sweet turnaround jumper from the short corner. If that's a shot he hits with any regularity then watch out.

His play on Tuesday will, as always, be crucial and Saturday was a great test for the length Kentucky will bring in. Gafford was tremendous against A&M, and you can see his confidence growing more and more with each game. He scored, he was aggressive on the glass and finished with a pair of huge blocks.

He was more than ready for the Aggies frontline this time.

Barford, Macon

The Hogs' two leading scorers were back to their old tricks against the Aggies.

Macon scored just four points in the win at Ole Miss, but his off night scoring the ball didn't carry over. He finished with 20 points, his eighth such game in Arkansas' last nine and ninth in SEC play.

Mike Anderson talks often about his guards not going and getting the game, and instead letting it come to them and Macon did that against A&M. He shot 7 of 12 from the floor and an efficient 4 of 6 from deep.

Jaylen Barford was his usual special self again, too, leading all scorers with 21. He buried four 3s in the win and handed out five assists as well to go along with five rebounds. Arkansas' guards rebounded the ball very well, and the senior duo recorded eight.

Arkansas improved to 6-0 this season when Macon and Barford each pour in 20 or more - 5-0 in SEC play.

Role players huge

Daryl Macon, Jaylen Barford and Daniel Gafford were special. There's no way around it. But Arkansas' role players were key in Saturday's win.

It began with C.J. Jones reaching double figures for the first time since a 97-93 win against Ole Miss. Jones had scored just 13 points in Arkansas' previous five games - two scoreless outings - but added 13 against the Aggies and knocked down his first triple since Oklahoma State.

Jones misfired on his first 3, pushing his slump to 12 straight misses, but found the range on his final attempt. One of the things he has been doing more consistently lately is finding ways to score without the 3 falling. He's getting out and running in transition and utilizing the pull-up jumper. We're seeing a lot of growth from him the last handful of games and his production over the next two weeks will be extremely valuable.

Dustin Thomas and Gabe Osabuohien played well, too. Thomas showed off his midrange game three times Saturday, and looked confident letting his shot go. He is also solid pressuring opposing guards off ballscreens. On one occasion, he forced a turnover doing just that.

Thomas plays with an edge, and his physicality is vital although it can get him into foul trouble at times.

Osabuohien added six big points as well as part of Arkansas' 23-8 edge in bench points, and Trey Thompson, who Mike Anderson said had a low-grade fever leading up to the game, grabbed six rebounds as Arkansas finished with a +12 edge on the boards.

Robert Williams

Texas A&M's star sophomore has extraterrestrial abilities.

Several times throughout Saturday's game I found myself amazed at not only his size, but his athleticism and aggressive nature on the glass. He's a grown man.

Williams finished with 20 points - one shy of tying his career high - and 14 rebounds in a losing effort, but he was impressive from start to finish. As strong of a presence as he is on both ends of the floor, he finished with just one foul, which is a showcase of his basketball IQ. He picks his spots and is exceptionally smart when doing so.

Seven NBA scouts were in the building to catch all of the forward talent on the floor, and he and Gafford did not disappoint.

Other notes

-Arkansas is now 42-5 in Bud Walton Arena on Saturdays under Mike Anderson. The Razorbacks have won their last 13 Saturday home games and scored 90+ points in nine of those games, outscoring opponents by an average of 14 points in the wins.

-Texas A&M lost at Arkansas for the 10th consecutive time dating back to when the teams were both members of the Southwest Conference. The Aggies last won at Arkansas 93-76 on March 1, 1986 in Barnhill Arena.

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