Macon scores points as a passer

By: Bob Holt
Published: Tuesday, January 16, 2018
Arkansas guard Daryl Macon (4) looks to drive to the basket against LSU on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018, in Bud Walton Arena.
Photo by J.T. Wampler
Arkansas guard Daryl Macon (4) looks to drive to the basket against LSU on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018, in Bud Walton Arena.

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas Razorbacks guard Daryl Macon didn't score after going back into the game against Missouri with 8:57 left, but he made sure his team did.

Macon, a 6-3 senior from Little Rock, had assists on four of the Razorbacks' last six baskets -- starting with his pass to Dustin Thomas for a layup -- as they came back to beat the Tigers 65-63 on Saturday in Walton Arena.

Thomas' basket gave the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville a 53-49 lead, but Missouri went on a 10-0 run to move ahead 59-53 with 4:43 left.

Macon then had assists on three baskets to 6-11 freshman Daniel Gafford -- including a three-point play that pulled the Razorbacks within 59-58 and a lay-in on an alley-oop that put them back in front 65-63 with 57.9 seconds left.

"Daryl's a good passer," Gafford said. "He tells me before every game if I'm open, he's going to dime me."

Macon smiled when he heard Gafford's comment as they sat next to each other while answering media questions after the Missouri game.

"And I tell him if he doesn't shoot it, we're going to have a problem," Macon said.

Macon finished the Missouri game with 8 points, 8 assists and 6 rebounds in 26 minutes off the bench.

The assists matched Macon's career high. He also had eight assists earlier this season against Samford, Troy and California State University, Bakersfield. The six rebounds were his season high.

"I just like showing people that I can do more than scoring," said Macon, who is averaging 15.8 points and had a career-high 33 against Tennessee and 27 against Oklahoma. "I think I have a full game.

"I can rebound, I can pass, I can score. [Against Missouri] I just had to show that I can pass the ball. I had to find my teammates that are open, and they made big shots.

"Without them, I wouldn't have eight assists, so a big shout-out to my teammates."

Many of Macon's assists -- including his final three to Gafford against Missouri -- have come in pick-and-roll situations.

Other times teams are looking to double-team Macon or cut off his path to the basket, and he'll get the ball to a teammate for an open shot.

"When teams are locking onto him, he's driving in there and dishing off the ball," Arkansas senior guard Anton Beard said. "Those are just plays he's making. He can make plays. We saw that in the last game.

"In that last little stretch, he made a lot of good plays, a lot of decisions. His IQ is really high. I mean, he's just playing ball."

Going into Arkansas' game at Florida on Wednesday night, Macon is averaging 4.1 assists to rank eighth in the SEC.

"I think he's developing as a player," Razorbacks Coach Mike Anderson said. "I thought even his defense was probably the best it's been the other night.

"He's playing the game the right way, playing with purpose, playing with passion and playing to win. I think that's the biggest key.

"Obviously, we know he can score. But I think when a guy can make others better, that makes him an even more special player. A more attractive player when you have the all-around game."

Anderson praised Macon for making passes that weren't credited as assists -- what he likes to call a hockey assist -- but helped create scores.

"I thought he had some passes that were not assists, but that led to assists," Anderson said. "The long passes down the floor that gave another guy an opportunity."

Macon transferred to Arkansas last season from Holmes (Miss.) Community College and averaged 13.4 points with 80 assists and 65 turnovers to help the Razorbacks to a 26-10 record and NCAA Tournament berth.

In Macon's second season at Arkansas, he has 69 assists and 29 turnovers in 17 games. He nearly has doubled his average of 2.2 assists as a junior.

"I think he's just coming into his own," Razorbacks senior forward Trey Thompson said. "I think last year he was trying to figure out his role on the team.

"This year he's of a more facilitator. When teams are locking onto him, he's not forcing a shot. I think he's growing into his role."

Macon is fifth in the conference with a ratio of 2.7 assists to 1.0 turnover.

"That speaks to Daryl making much better decisions," Anderson said. "I think he's understanding about winning.

"A lot of times guys that are gifted scorers, it's about getting their numbers. Getting their stats. Now he's understanding that, 'How can I help this team if I'm not scoring?' We've got some other guys that can score as well."

Anderson, who was a junior-college transfer before starring as a point guard at Tulsa for coach Nolan Richardson, can relate the to the transition Macon has made at Arkansas.

"Coming to this level from junior college, the game goes real, real fast," Anderson said. "But when things start slowing down for you, you can see it for what it is, and you take advantage of situations and opportunities.

"Daryl's got a chance to be one of the elite guards in our league without a doubt. So the way he's playing tells me he's focused in on trying to be the best player he can be and helping our basketball team win."

Anderson said he can see Macon having as much fun making a key pass as he does a big shot.

"If you have the mindset of becoming an all-around player -- especially a guy that size -- you've got to be able to make other guys better," Anderson said. "You can create for yourself, but can you make other guys better? That's what Daryl is doing."

Sports on 01/16/2018

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