Hogs' good time equals SEC mark

By: Bob Holt
Published: Friday, March 8, 2019
Arkansas guard Mason Jones scores against Vanderbilt in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, March 6, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
Arkansas guard Mason Jones scores against Vanderbilt in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, March 6, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The University of Arkansas came back to sweep Vanderbilt this season after falling behind by 10 points in the first half in both games, but the way in which the Razorbacks won at home and on the road couldn't have been more different.

The first game was a nail-biter for the Razorbacks and their fans. The second game was a laugher.

EXTRA LARGE

Arkansas’ 84-48 victory at Vanderbilt on Wednesday matched the second-largest margin for the Razorbacks in an SEC game and the largest on the road. Here is a rundown of Arkansas’ 10 most-lopsided SEC victories:

Rank, Margin, Opponent, Score, Date

1) 57, Mississippi State, 115-58, Feb. 20, 1993

T2) 36, Auburn, 95-59, Jan. 22, 2005

T2) 36, Vanderbilt, 84-48, March 6, 2019

4) 35, LSU, 87-52, Feb. 10, 2010

5) 34, Mississippi State, 98-64, Jan. 21, 1997

T6) 33, at Missouri, 94-61, Jan. 12, 2016

T6) 33, Auburn, 75-42, Feb. 11, 1997

8) 30, Ole Miss, 110-80, March 5, 2014

9) 29, Alabama, 87-58, Jan. 20, 2001

10) 27, Alabama, 88-61, Jan. 6, 2007

SOURCE: Arkansas media guide

Arkansas beat Vanderbilt 69-66 in Walton Arena on Feb. 5 when freshman guard Keyshawn Embery-Simpson hit a three-pointer with 14.8 seconds left to give the Razorbacks a 67-66 lead. Then Jalen Harris drew a charge, Mason Jones hit 2 of 2 free throws, and Arkansas survived when Matt Ryan's three-point attempt bounced off the rim with two seconds left.

On Wednesday night, the Razorbacks got another three-pointer late in the game, but it was junior Jonathan Holmes -- recently put on scholarship and playing for the first time since Dec. 1 against Florida International -- hitting his first basket of the season with 24 seconds left to cap Arkansas' 84-48 victory in Memorial Gym.

Ty Stevens, a sophomore walk-on guard for the Razorbacks, also scored his first career points. He even made it a three-point play with a layup with 45 seconds left on an assist from Gabe Osabuohien while he was fouled by Saben Lee.

The combined six points from Holmes and Stevens matched the six scored Wednesday night by Vanderbilt senior guard Joe Toye, who had 18 against Arkansas in Fayetteville.

Sophomore forward Daniel Gafford, who led the Razorbacks with 20 points, spoke on Arkansas' postgame radio show about the happiness the team felt for Holmes and Stevens.

"When those guys get in, it's nothing but energy on the bench," Gafford said. "Ty got his bucket, it was an and-one and a great play. It was basically what he's been wanting pretty much all season, I'm pretty sure.

"So when he got it we were happy for him. The smile on his face told it all: 'I actually made a bucket in an Arkansas game against this team.'

"Then Jonny came down and shot a three off the backboard. That made it even better because both of them scored when they came off the bench."

Holmes and Stevens contributed to a 36-point victory, the Razorbacks' largest winning margin in an SEC road game. Arkansas' most-lopsided road victory in SEC play previously was 33 points when the Razorbacks won 94-61 at Missouri in 2016.

What made the final score at Vanderbilt so remarkable was that the Commodores jumped out to a 15-5 lead with 13:17 left.

Arkansas outscored Vanderbilt 79-33 the rest of the way to keep the Commodores (9-21, 0-17) winless in the SEC.

"There was no pressure," freshman guard Isaiah Joe said when asked whether the Razorbacks were worried about being the first SEC team to lose to Vanderbilt when they fell behind early. "We knew what we had to do going into the game.

"Even though they haven't won any games in the conference, we treated them just like any other team. Anybody's beatable, so we just came in with that mindset.

"We knew what we had to do to get that win. We knew once we got it together that we were going to pick it up, because at the beginning we were really beating ourselves."

The Razorbacks had 10 turnovers in the first half. In the second half, they had 13 assists and one turnover.

"We were't loose with the basketball," Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson said of the turnaround after halftime when the Razorbacks led 29-25. "We moved the basketball.

"We were much more efficient in the second half. We shared the basketball. A lot of times when you get those turnovers, you're in a hurry or you're just trying to make the home-run pass.

"In the second half, I thought we trusted each other a little bit more, and then we made some shots, too."

Arkansas shot 65.6 percent (21 of 32) from the field in the second half, including 8 of 10 on three-pointers.

In the second half, Vanderbilt also suffered 13 turnovers, and the Razorbacks outscored the Commodores 23-0 in points off turnovers.

"The difference in the second half was our defense," Gafford said. "That led to our offense."

Anderson agreed it was defense that got the Razorbacks into the fast-paced game they wanted.

"Our defense got engaged," he said. "We were trying to force Vanderbilt out of what they wanted to do in a half-court setting, and I thought we did a pretty good job of that."

Jones, a sophomore guard, had 16 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals in 25 minutes off the bench.

"Everything Mason did on the floor was everything we needed him to do," Gafford said.

Joe hit 4 of 6 three-pointers and now holds Arkansas' season record with 104. He broke the record of 102 by Scotty Thurman -- now a Razorbacks assistant -- during the 1994-95 season.

"Im pretty sure Isaiah almost caught the net on fire," Gafford said of Joe getting hot late in the game when he hit 3 of 3 from beyond the arc. "I congratulate him on getting the record, because he's a hard worker. The way he shoots the ball is incredible."

The Razorbacks (16-14, 7-10) have won back-to-back games -- including a 74-73 victory over Ole Miss on Saturday -- after enduring a six-game losing streak that was the longest in Anderson's 17 seasons as a head coach.

With at least two games left to play -- the regular-season finale against Alabama in Walton Arena on Saturday and the SEC Tournament opener next week -- the Razorbacks are guaranteed of keeping alive Anderson's streak of never having a losing record.

"We're starting to play the kind of basketball that we played at the beginning of the season," Gafford said of Arkansas' 6-1 start. "We were playing excellent basketball."

The Razorbacks might not be playing excellent now, but they've been playing better, starting with a 70-66 loss at Kentucky last week.

"This is the time of year when our teams start playing some of their better basketball," Anderson said. "Let's hope we can continue to do that."

Up next

ARKANSAS MEN VS. ALABAMA

WHEN 5 p.m. Saturday

WHERE Walton Arena, Fayetteville

RECORDS Arkansas 16-14, 7-10 SEC; Alabama 17-13, 8-9

SERIES Arkansas leads 33-28.

TELEVISION SEC Network

RADIO Razorback Sports Network

Sports on 03/08/2019

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