No spoilers: Hogs beat Ole Miss 74-73 on day '94 championship team honored

Harris’ drive enhances special day

By: Bob Holt
Published: Sunday, March 3, 2019
Arkansas guard Jalen Harris drives to the basket for the game winner during a game against Ole Miss on Saturday, March 2, 2019, in Fayetteville.
Photo by Ben Goff
Arkansas guard Jalen Harris drives to the basket for the game winner during a game against Ole Miss on Saturday, March 2, 2019, in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- The Arkansas Razorbacks -- especially Jalen Harris in the final seconds -- weren't going to let Ole Miss ruin Saturday's welcome-home party in Walton Arena.

Harris made a driving bank shot with 5.9 seconds left for the game's last of 21 lead changes, then denied the ball from Breein Tyree to force a turnover as the Razorbacks beat the Rebels 74-73 before an announced crowd of 9,942 that included the University of Arkansas' 1994 national championship team.

The 1994 Razorbacks, honored at halftime on the 25th anniversary of winning the NCAA title over Duke, celebrated with the current Razorbacks in the locker room.

"They beat me in there," Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson said. "They went around and high-fived the guys.

"Our guys kind of were playing for them. So now they actually get a chance to meet these guys that were part of a national championship here."

The Razorbacks (15-14, 6-10 SEC) broke a six-game losing streak.

"It was pretty big to have them here," Arkansas sophomore forward Daniel Gafford said. "They fueled energy for us, the crowd had energy for us.

"If it wasn't for the crowd, we probably wouldn't have pulled this out because we had to feed off them. They got loud at the end and helped us out."

Gafford, who had 17 points on 7-of-9 shooting, dunked on a lob pass from Harris to pull the Razorbacks within 73-72 with 43 seconds left.

Tyree, who led the Rebels (19-10, 9-7) with 20 points, was looking to extend their lead when Arkansas forward Gabe Osabuohien knocked the ball away from him.

Razorbacks guard Isaiah Joe dove for the ball, then passed it to Gafford, who lost control at midcourt. Ole Miss center Dominik Olejniczak and guard Terence Davis dove on the floor to force a jump ball with Gafford.

The possession arrow was pointing in the Razorbacks' direction, so they had the ball with 18.3 seconds left.

After a timeout, Harris was dribbling and looking to get the ball to Gafford inside or to Joe for a jump shot, but the left side of the lane opened up.

Harris drove hard to the rim and put the ball high off the backboard -- to make sure it got over the 7-0 Olejniczak -- and it went through the basket.

"Originally, the play was designed for Dan, but once I saw Dan wasn't open I dribbled over and saw Isaiah," Harris said. "He rolled his foot ... and his man stopped playing, and that's what opened up the lane.

"So I just went with my instincts, put the ball in the air and it went in."

There have been other late-game situations -- including losses against Western Kentucky, Texas Tech and Missouri -- when Harris had the ball and the Razorbacks couldn't get off a good shot.

"It felt pretty good," Harris said of hitting the game-winning basket. "Knowing I've been in those situations a lot and haven't really executed, Coach A still has faith in me to keep the ball."

Anderson praised Harris for making a good read and driving to the basket.

"It's about guys making plays," Anderson said. "And he made a play."

Ole Miss still had time to get a game-winning basket of its own. After a timeout, Tyree inbounded the ball to Olejniczak, who was supposed to get it right back to Tyree.

But Harris had Tyree well covered, which forced an errant pass from Olejniczak that Osabuohien stole to clinch the victory.

"Get it to your guard going 100 miles an hour down the court," Rebels Coach Kermit Davis said of the plan for Tyree. "We've been running it for a long time. First time I've had a guy in history not to hand it to him. That's what it is. I take full responsibility for it.

"But give Arkansas credit. A good win for them."

Tyree sat glumly next to Davis during postgame interviews.

"I was expecting to get the ball," Tyree said. "We do it all the time in practice."

Anderson said he wanted Harris guarding Tyree.

"I thought Jalen did a good job of making Tyree work for the basketball," Anderson said. "Then Gabe did a good job of helping and coming up with the loose ball at the end.

"We had one more stop in us, and we were fortunate to win the game."

Sophomore guard Mason Jones led Arkansas with 22 points off the bench. He hit 7 of 10 shots, including 6 of 8 three-pointers.

"Mason took charge," Gafford said. "Mason was one of the main reasons we got our flow going and had momentum because he came down and knocked down shots that basically blew the roof off Bud.

"The crowd got into it, then we got into it to help him out."

Harris had 10 points, 9 assists and 1 turnover. Joe scored nine points.

Terence Davis, Bruce Stevens and Devonte Shuler scored 12 points each for Ole Miss.

"I told our guys, 'The building is going to have a lot of juice honoring the '94 team,' " Kermit Davis said. "In the second half, Bud Walton came alive during their run."

Anderson, an Arkansas assistant coach in 1994, had two players -- Clint McDaniel and Elmer Martin -- talk to the Razorbacks before Saturday's game.

"Clint made the statement, 'We played here 25 years ago and obviously we did some great things, but we live through you guys now,' " Anderson said. "I thought it kind of resonated with our guys.

"They also talked about how one thing about Razorbacks is that nobody outworks us. Our guys worked to win this game."

Game sketch

RECORDS Arkansas 15-14, 6-10 SEC; Ole Miss 19-10, 9-7

STARS Arkansas sophomore guard Mason Jones (22 points) and sophomore forward Daniel Gafford (17 points, 2 blocked shots). Ole Miss junior guard Breein Tyree (20 points, 5 assists)

KEY STAT The Razorbacks shot 55.1 percent (27 of 49) from the field, including 9 of 18 on three-pointers.

UP NEXT Arkansas plays Vanderbilt at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Memorial Gym in Nashville, Tenn.

Sports on 03/03/2019

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