Postgame thoughts: Arkansas 65, Missouri 63

By: Scottie Bordelon
Published: Saturday, January 13, 2018
Daniel Gafford saves a ball from going out of bounds during a game against Missouri on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018, in Fayetteville.
Photo by Andy Shupe
Daniel Gafford saves a ball from going out of bounds during a game against Missouri on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018, in Fayetteville.

— Some thoughts following Arkansas' 65-63 win over Missouri:

Arkansas' 2-man game

When Arkansas needed a bucket late in regulation against Tennessee, Mike Anderson elected to go to Daryl Macon and Daniel Gafford in a pick-and-roll situation. It ended in a Gafford dunk.

Saturday, with the game tied and in need of a score, Anderson went to Macon and Gafford. Again, it resulted in a Gafford slam to give Arkansas a lead.

Go with what's working for you.

The Razorbacks' offense is markedly better when Gafford is on the floor and involved. In the loss to LSU on Wednesday we didn't see a whole lot of Gafford setting ballscreens on the perimeter, and Arkansas settled for a lot of jumpers. The five field goal attempts Wednesday were his fewest since the Houston loss (4).

There appeared to be a concerted effort to place him in those actions on Saturday, and it paid dividends.

Macon, who came off the bench for the first time since Arkansas' 2017 NCAA Tournament loss to North Carolina, finished with eight assists in the win. Three of his dimes came in the final four minutes as he found Gafford for Arkansas' final three makes from the floor, including the go-ahead dunk with 57 seconds left.

Gafford's final three touches turned into seven points. Good things happen when the ball finds him in some form or fashion.

It was good to see Gafford moving and using his frame to create opportunities for he and Macon rather than running to the block and posting his man, waiting for an entry pass that might not come. I liked what I saw from those two late in the game.

Gafford finished the night with a team-high 15 points, his third double-figure game in league play and best night on the offensive end since Mississippi State (17 points).

Macon said after the game he wanted to show everyone that he can do more than just score the ball. Saturday was his fourth eight-assist game of the season, so we know he can find guys. But his reputation as one of the SEC's best scoring guards creates problems for opposing bigs chasing Gafford to the perimeter.

Surely this two-man action is something we'll see with greater frequency moving forward.

Strong on Saturdays

If opponents want to beat Arkansas at home, they better do it mid-week.

With the win, Arkansas improved to 38-5 in Bud Walton Arena on Saturdays under Mike Anderson and 3-0 this season with wins over Minnesota, Tennessee and Missouri.

Arkansas has won nine consecutive Saturday home games, averaging better than 90 points in the wins, since falling to South Carolina on March 5, 2016 to close out the regular season.

Arkansas is now 4-0 at home against Missouri on Saturdays under Anderson, too.

Hall shines in first start

In his limited minutes, Darious Hall has been Arkansas' sure-fire energy guy off the bench.

After an impressive showing on Saturday, he may have just found a home in the starting lineup.

Entrusted to give the Razorbacks a much-needed spark from the jump, Hall responded with 10 points - all in the first half - and five rebounds in 21 minutes against the Tigers.

Missouri coach Cuonzo Martin said his team didn't do a good job keeping up with the freshman, who went on a personal 8-0 run in the first half that put Arkansas up 11. Hall asserted himself in the transition game, slashing to open areas for layups and an easy dunk.

Anderson had to love what he saw from Hall. The freshman averages just more than 12 minutes per game, but has now cracked 20+ in three consecutive games after playing just nine against Tennessee and Mississippi State. Trust is growing.

Not only did he bring value to the defensive end, he didn't force things on offense. He was poised, didn't allow the moment to become too big and, most impressive, finished turnover-free. That's a huge plus.

Arkansas needed to find a fix for its defensive woes - giving up 1.15 points per possession through four SEC games - and Hall's infusion might be it. While Arkansas' offense still hasn't figured everything out, being able to win a game in the 60s is pretty impressive. The Hogs were 0-3 coming into Saturday when scoring less than 70 points.

So, does Hall get the starting nod at Florida on Wednesday? I'd bet he does.


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