In the Lane:

For final time, Allen hurts Hogs

By: Bob Holt
Published: Friday, March 15, 2019
Florida guard KeVaughn Allen looks to pass during an SEC Tournament game against Arkansas on Thursday, March 14, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn.
Photo by Ben Goff
Florida guard KeVaughn Allen looks to pass during an SEC Tournament game against Arkansas on Thursday, March 14, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- KeVaughn Allen was a Hog killer one last time.

Allen, Florida's senior guard from North Little Rock, broke out of a brutal shooting slump to score 17 points in the Gators' 66-50 victory over the University of Arkansas on Thursday in the SEC Tournament.

"I just tried to do what I had to do," Allen said. "Do my job to help the team win. Just playing hard. Once I played hard, everything just came together."

Allen had averaged 4.5 points in the previous four games, but having a big game against Arkansas was no surprise. In eight career games against Arkansas, Allen is averaging 16.0 points. In 130 games against other opponents, he's averaged 12.0 points.

Allen hit 6 of 14 shots from the field after going 5 of 31 in the previous four games, including 3 of 17 on three-pointers. He hit 3 of 7 three-pointers against Arkansas.

"Being a kid from Arkansas, he probably comes into this game with a lot of emotions," said Razorbacks guard Isaiah Joe, a freshman from Fort Smith. "You could definitely feel it and see it on the floor.

"He came in and did his thing, and we weren't able to stop him like we wanted to."

Allen is 7-1 against Arkansas. The only loss he's experienced to the Razorbacks was in last year's SEC Tournament when Arkansas beat Florida 80-72.

Allen led the Gators with 18 points when they beat Arkansas 57-51 earlier this season at Walton Arena, and he hit 4 of 4 free throws in the final 12 seconds to clinch the victory.

When the Gators beat the Razorbacks 88-73 at home last season, Allen scored 28 points and hit 8 of 12 shots -- including 6 of 7 three-pointers -- after having shot 30.8 percent from the field (12 of 39) and 26.1 percent on three-pointers (6 of 23) in the previous six games.

As a freshman in 2016, Allen clinched Florida's 87-83 victory over Arkansas at home when he hit two free throws with 5.6 seconds left.

"I don't know that it has a lot more to do with more than coincidence," Florida Coach Mike White said when asked about Allen's success against Arkansas. "When you're playing your home state school, I think a lot of guys maybe get a little bit more juiced up."

A reporter then reminded White that Allen has higher career shooting percentages on shots from the field, three-pointers and free throws against the Razorbacks than his averages against other opposing teams.

Plus he has scored 25 percent more points against Arkansas.

How can that all be a coincidence?

"All right, I'm giving in," White said with a smile. "You're right. You're right. Maybe he gets a little bit more excited. Numbers back you up."

Hog out

Arkansas freshman guard Keyshawn Embery-Simpson, who had played off the bench in the first 31 games this season, didn't dress out against Florida because of a left foot injury.

Embery-Simpson, who injured his foot in Tuesday's practice, is averaging 4.3 points in 15.3 minutes, but he twice has scored 16 points -- against Ole Miss and at LSU -- and hit the game-winning three-point basket with 14.8 seconds left against Vanderbilt.

"I think we're a sum of all the parts," said Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson, who used eight players, rather than nine, for the first time this season. "We had an important part missing.

"Keyshawn is a very good defensive player. He's a guy that can stretch the floor. I think he's built for these kind of games. Not having him hurt us a little bit.

"But it's like next man step up, hopefully produce."

3-point struggles

Arkansas shot 25 percent (4 of 16) on three-point attempts against Florida after shooting 51.3 (39 of 76) the previous four games against Kentucky, Ole Miss, Vanderbilt and Alabama.

"We just didn't shoot the ball well," Razorbacks Coach Mike Anderson said. "We had a bunch of open looks. We had guys that are shooting that you want to shoot. Just couldn't knock it down."

Arkansas freshman guard Isaiah Joe increased his SEC lead in three-point baskets to 108, but he was 2 of 9 on Thursday.

"It was definitely an off day, but we predicated our game on the outside shot," Joe said. "I felt like we could have gotten a lot more on the inside. Maybe get Dan [Gafford] going a few more times. That might have opened it up a lot for us [on the perimeter]."

Gafford had averaged 20.0 points the previous four games, and hit 6 of 9 shots Thursday to lead Arkansas with 15 points.

Rebound edge

Florida is the last SEC team Arkansas outrebounded.

The Razorbacks finished with a 42-39 rebounding edge when Florida beat Arkansas 57-51 at Walton Arena on Jan. 9.

Florida turned that stat around Thursday when the Gators outrebounded Arkansas 41-26.

In SEC Tournament

Arkansas fell to 26-27 in SEC Tournament games, including 2-5 against Florida.

Razorbacks Coach Mike Anderson is 6-9 in SEC Tournament games, including a first-round loss to Tennessee in 2002 when he was Arkansas' interim coach after Nolan Richardson's firing.

Take charge

Arkansas' Gabe Osabuohien drew a charge from Jalen Hudson with 18:14 left in the first half. It was the 23rd charge Osabuohien has taken this season.

Beck honored

Corey Beck, the starting point guard on Arkansas' 1994 national championship team, was recognized as the Razorbacks' SEC Legend this year during halftime, but he wasn't yet at Bridgestone Arena because of a flight delay.

Arkansas Athletic Director Hunter Yurachek represented the Razorbacks during the halftime ceremony. Beck arrived in time to watch the second half.

Sports on 03/15/2019

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