In the Lane:

Sills the real deal for Hogs

By: Bob Holt
Published: Sunday, January 6, 2019
Arkansas guard Keyshawn Embery-Simpson (11) speaks with head coach Mike Anderson as officials review a play in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Texas A&M, Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019, in College Station, Texas. (Laura McKenzie/College Station Eagle via AP)
Arkansas guard Keyshawn Embery-Simpson (11) speaks with head coach Mike Anderson as officials review a play in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Texas A&M, Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019, in College Station, Texas. (Laura McKenzie/College Station Eagle via AP)

COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Desi Sills, the University of Arkansas' freshman guard from Jonesboro, had his season-high in scoring during the first half of Saturday's game against Texas A&M.

Sills scored 13 points in the first half and finished with 14 in 18 minutes off the bench to help the Razorbacks beat the Aggies 73-71.

"Desi's number was called and he was ready," Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson said. "It was good to see him come out and play with confidence and play like he does in practice. He kept us in the game in the first half."

Sills, who came into the game averaging 4.5 points, hit 5 of 9 shots and 3 of 6 three-pointers. He was 3 of 5 on three-pointers in the first half to help the Razorbacks take a 32-31 lead.

"We really should have been up at halftime," Texas A&M Coach Billy Kennedy said. "The threes Sills hit were big. That was something we didn't expect coming into the game."

Sills' previous scoring high was nine points in back-to-back games against Western Kentucky and Texas-San Antonio. He is the seventh Razorback to score at least 11 points in a game this season.

"Desi played a great game," Arkansas sophomore forward Daniel Gafford said. "He did everything he had to do. I'm pretty sure the coaches are impressed."

Sills' lone point in the second half was a big one. He hit a free throw to put Arkansas ahead 71-68 with 27 seconds left.

Going to boards

Arkansas came into Saturday's game last in the SEC in rebounding margin at minus-1.5 per game, but the Razorbacks outrebounded the Aggies -- who were a plus-5.3 -- 47-42.

Arkansas also was last in the SEC in offensive rebounds by corralling 29 percent of its misses, but the Razorbacks had 17 offensive rebounds on 44 misses for a 38.6 percent rate against the Aggies.

The Razorbacks outscored the Aggies 18-16 in second-chance points after being outscored 50-12 in that category the previous three games.

"We matched the intensity and physicality that A&M brings to the table," Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson said. "We hadn't done as good a job rebounding as we're capable of doing, but tonight it was a big difference in the game."

Taking charge

Arkansas sophomore forward Gabe Osabuohien continues to live up to the nickname teammate Daniel Gafford gave him earlier this season.

"We might as well call him charge-taking Gabe, because that's what he does every time he comes into the game," Gafford said after Osabuohien took two charges in the Razorbacks' 73-70 victory over Texas State on Dec. 22. "His main mindset is on defense."

Osabuohien took two more charges against Texas A&M to raise his team lead to 11.

First Osabuohien drew a charge from Savion Flagg with 14:26 left in the first half. Then he drew a charge from John Walker with 11:19 left in the game.

Osabuohien was standing in the lane on each charge.

"Gabe's a blue-collar guy, and he's important to our basketball team," Coach Mike Anderson said. "We talk about building that wall on defense, and he was on the back line there. Kudos to him."

Vs. Aggies

Arkansas has played Texas A&M more than any other opponent in basketball.

Saturday's game marked the teams' 158th game, including 147 as Southwest Conference members and 11 since the Aggies joined the Razorbacks in the SEC.

The teams played twice during Arkansas' first basketball season in 1923-24, with the Aggies winning 35-27 and 35-15 with both games played in College Station.

Arkansas then won 13 in a row against Texas A&M and now has a 103-55 series lead.

The Razorbacks were 96-50 against the Aggies in SWC games. Texas A&M beat Arkansas 71-62 in overtime in Dallas during the 2010-11 season in the teams' only nonconference game -- the Aggies were in the Big 12 at the time -- and the Razorbacks have a 7-4 edge in SEC games.

Biley in the house

Ken Biley, a Pine Bluff native and senior forward on the Razorbacks' 1994 national championship team, was among the Arkansas fans in Reed Arena for Saturday's game.

Biley, who lives in Houston and is a district manager for H&R Block, said he always travels to College Station and Baton Rouge for Arkansas games.

"This was an impressive win for Arkansas, especially with a bunch of freshmen and sophomores," Biley said of Saturday's game. "It's always tough to win on the road in the SEC, and these young guys matured a lot tonight."

Biley said he's excited to attend the 25-year reunion of Arkansas' national championship team in Fayetteville later this season.

"You don't think it's been 25 years," he said with a smile. "It's hard to believe it's been that long. It doesn't really hit you until you get a little bit older."

9 more assists

Arkansas sophomore point guard Jalen Harris had nine assists against Texas A&M to give him 89 on the season. He didn't have a turnover in 36 minutes to keep that total at 14.

Dunk negated

Arkansas lost a sure basket with 12:40 left in the second half when Desi Sills was called for a foul as Daniel Gafford dunked on a breakaway.

Sills was called for running into Jay Jay Chandler, who was trailing Gafford by several feet.

For openers

Arkansas improved to 16-12 in SEC openers, including 5-7 when its first conference game is on the road.

Prior to Saturday, the Razorbacks last had won on the road in their first SEC game when they beat Georgia 79-75 on Jan. 6, 2015, in Athens, Ga.

Streak lives

Arkansas has hit at least one three-point basket in 990 games.

Freshman guard Isaiah Joe hit a three-pointer with 18:31 left in the first half against Texas A&M to extend the Razorbacks' streak.

The last time Arkansas didn't hit a three-pointer was Jan. 7, 1989, at Texas, but the Razorbacks won 99-92. The Razorbacks attempted two three-pointers with Lee Mayberry and Cannon Whitby each missing.

Honoring Bush

Texas A&M is wearing a patch on its uniforms to honor the memory of George H.W. Bush, the 41st president of the United States. Bush, who died on Nov. 30, 2018, is buried at his presidential library on the Texas A&M campus.

Sports on 01/06/2019

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