Razorbacks report:

Anderson: Must cut turnovers

By: Tom Murphy
Published: Wednesday, February 20, 2019
Mississippi State defender Aric Holman (35) puts the pressure on Arkansas forward Daniel Gafford (10) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 16, 2019 in Fayetteville. (AP Photo/Michael Woods)
Mississippi State defender Aric Holman (35) puts the pressure on Arkansas forward Daniel Gafford (10) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 16, 2019 in Fayetteville. (AP Photo/Michael Woods)

FAYETTEVILLE -- University of Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson knows his team's turnover troubles from Saturday cannot leak over into tonight's game at Auburn.

Anderson didn't like his team's 20 turnovers in a 77-67 loss to Mississippi State at Walton Arena, and he really took exception to the nature of the turnovers in the second half, several that led to breakaway dunks for the Bulldogs, as they rapidly turned a 40-32 deficit into a 55-41 lead.

"The thing about it is it's hard to recover from those kinds of turnovers," Anderson said. "And it's something we hadn't been doing all year long. So all of a sudden it kind of rears its head and we've got to address it."

Arkansas' 10 first half turnovers were mostly of the dead-ball variety, like passes being thrown out of bounds or traveling calls. Many of the second-half turnovers resulted in Mississippi State steals and quick conversions as the Bulldogs led 27-22 in points off turnovers.

"Decision making is a big key," Anderson said. "I thought the execution in the first half, I mean, the ball was moving, people were moving.

"I thought in the second half it was a little more stagnant. And so as it got stagnant, I thought our decision-making wasn't very good. ... Most of it was off penetration. We'd penetrate and leave our feet and just make bad decisions."

Five Razorbacks -- starters Adrio Bailey, Daniel Gafford, Jalen Harris and Isaiah Joe, and reserve Gabe Osabuohien -- had three turnovers each against the Bulldogs.

"We had five guys with at least three turnovers," Anderson said. "I don't think that's happened all year long."

Scouting the Hogs

Auburn Coach Bruce Pearl said Arkansas will be motivated to "move up and get off the bubble" with a victory over the Tigers tonight.

Pearl gave a comprehensive report on the Hogs, including the opinion that Daniel Gafford is "the most dominating big guy in the league" at his Tuesday news conference.

"You examine the quality of their program and what they're known for -- you know, 40 minutes of hell, and the pace, and calling out the Hogs," Pearl said. "Arkansas is one of the better basketball programs in the SEC and they have been for a long time.

"Mike [Anderson] ... he's done a really good job there. They've won five out of the last six at Auburn Arena. We beat them last year here for the first time in a while. They've won 10 out of 12 in the series--so again, an opportunity for us to kind of reverse the course of history.

"They've got real good athletes, and they've got the most dominating big guy in the league in Daniel Gafford, they present a real threat."

Hogs at Auburn

The Razorbacks won their first five games at Auburn Arena before falling to 5-1 at the facility with an 88-77 loss last year.

Four of those victories came under Alabama native Mike Anderson, whose Razorbacks won 77-71 on Feb. 25, 2012, 83-75 on Feb. 13, 2013, 101-87 on Feb. 10, 2015 and 79-68 on Feb. 25, 2017.

Arkansas leads the all-time series 34-18, including 10 wins in the last 12 games.

"Every year I've played Arkansas it's been a fast-paced, high-scoring game, so I'm definitely looking forward to playing Arkansas," Auburn senior guard Bryce Brown said. "It's always been a fun game, always been a fun matchup and has always been a good, interesting matchup."

Brown hit 9 of 14 three-pointers and scored 27 points in the Tigers' 90-86 victory at Arkansas on Feb. 17, 2016, Auburn's only win in its last six games at Walton Arena.

Top shooter

Daniel Gafford had his worst shooting game of the season at 2 for 7 in Saturday's loss to Mississippi State but it didn't change his standing as the SEC's highest-percentage shooter.

Gafford has made 162 of 245 shots for a 66.1 percent clip, a full 8 percentage points over the next-highest qualifier, Tennessee's Grant Williams at 58.1 percent.

Gafford has had only three games in which he didn't make at least half of his shots. The 6-11 sophomore was 5 of 12 in a 98-74 victory at Colorado State and he went 2 of 6 in an 84-67 loss at Ole Miss.

The SEC's fifth-leading scorer with 16.6 points per game, Gafford had eight against Mississippi State, tying his season low in just the fourth game he has not reached double figures. Gafford also had eight points in a 77-65 loss at South Carolina on Feb. 9.

Joe's mojo

Freshman guard Isaiah Joe was 1 of 5 on three-pointers against Mississippi State for just his fifth game with one or fewer made three-point field goals.

Joe went 0 for 1 against LSU at Walton Arena and 0 for 5 at Texas Tech. He made 1 of 5 three-pointers against Texas State and 1 of 3 against Georgia.

Joe is now 87 of 201 (.433) from beyond the arc as the school record-holder for three-pointers made by a freshman. He is in ninth place overall. Current Arkansas assistant coach Scotty Thurman holds the school record with 102 three-pointers in 1995.

"Two of the best three-point shooters in the SEC, so it will be good to see how a young player like him does against a senior like me," Auburn guard Bryce Brown said.

Wiley's work

Auburn Coach Bruce Pearl said center Austin Wiley is working his way back into prime playing shape.

"Austin's getting to the point where he's now healthy," Pearl said, reference the leg injury that had sidelined Wiley. "I think the issue is just the conditioning, just the reps."

Wiley, who has missed six games, averages 8.7 points and 5.1 rebounds per game.

Sports on 02/20/2019


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