X-factor Walsh a 'big piece of the puzzle' for Hogs
It wasn’t a play that showed up in the box score of …
Arkansas center Moses Kingsley dribbles down the floor against Ole Miss in the first half Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017, during the game at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE — There certainly were plenty of players that helped Arkansas to its 98-80 win over Ole Miss on Saturday before 15,214 fans, but Macon shined above all.
Macon came off the bench for head coach Mike Anderson to score a career-high 30 points in 24 minutes and was a blistering 10-of-13 from the field, 6-of-9 from 3-point range and 4-of-5 from the free throw line.
“I can say I'm playing into the system now,” Macon said. “Being patient, not rushing. I had a few talks with Coach over the weekend and he told me to just trust him, trust the system and it all would come. Just buy into the coaching. I feel like that's what I did tonight and these were the results.”
Anderson was obviously pleased to see the results from both Macon and fellow junior college-transfer guard Jaylen Barford, who had 15 points.
“We brought those guys here for that,” Anderson said. “They are still learning how hard it is to play defense and offense. I thought today was big for that for Daryl. I had to sit Daryl down and said, 'Go have some fun with it.' Some guys put so much pressure on themselves to do this and do that. Have some fun with it.
“…Tonight I thought he let the game come to him. Some guys try to go get it. When you try to go get it you don't look very good. When you let it come to you and play the defense that's required to play on this team it makes a big difference. He and Barford are finding their stride. As they find their stride this team continues to find its stride as well."
Macon scored 15 points in each half and became the first Razorback player to score 30 points off the bench since Jannero Pargo pumped in 33 in a win over Alabama back in 2002.
“I just want to play my role,” Macon said. “My role is to score and play defense, so I'm going to play that role whether I come off the bench or not. I'm not big on starting. I was always taught it's whoever ends the game. It's not who starts the game. Whether I come off the bench or whether I start, I just want to give this team all I've got.”
Fellow Razorback Manny Watkins let Macon - whose season and thus career high at Arkansas had been 23 - was close to 30.
“Actually before I shot that last three-pointer, Manny told me I had 27,” Macon said. “He was like, 'I bet you won't get 30.' I was like, 'OK, bet.' That's when I shot the last three.
“… I have to give a big shout-out to my teammates for getting me the ball and helping me make this happen, because I didn't do it on my own. So a big shout-out to these guys."
Both Kingsley and Thompson were in during Arkansas’ 19-0 run that turned a 56-51 lead with 16:25 left into a 75-51 advantage at the 11:17 mark.
“Those guys, they really worked well together,” Anderson said.
Kingsley had 14 points, 13 rebounds, 4 blocks and 3 assists while hitting all eight of his free throws and three of his four shots from the field.
“We got the old Mo back,” Anderson said. “We got the old Moses back. He’s doing all the things that garner him all the attention. I think that’s what you are seeing now. He’s doing all the blue collar kind of stuff and at the same time he is versatile enough he can step away from the basket. But you never go away from what his strengths are. And his strength is he can run floor and go in there and post up big.”
Thompson - the 6-10 junior from Forrest City - played perhaps his best all-around game as a Razorback, finishing with 8 points, 8 rebounds, 3 blocks, 3 assists and 3 steals.
“Trey came to play today,” Macon said. “I feel like Trey’s confidence is starting to rise. When Trey is rebounding, blocking shots – I don’t know how many blocked he had, he had a ton of blocks today – when he’s finding people, dunking the ball, when you get that Trey, that Trey is the one you should be scared of when you’re the opposite team because that Trey is going to bring it.”
Thompson downplayed his outing.
“I think I did good,” Thompson said. “I had too many turnovers. I had two turnovers, it was too many. I think I did okay. I passed up a few shots that I should have knocked down, but overall I think I did okay. I was solid defensively, for the most part. But I still can get better.”
One of the many reasons that Arkansas won Saturday was because they slowed down Ole Miss center Sebastian Saiz, who came into the game averaging 15.2 points and an SEC leading 11.2 rebounds per game this season.
Saiz finished with 8 points and 5 rebounds while shooting 2-of-13 from the field, 0 of 3 from 3-point range and 4-of-6 from the free throw line.
Well I thought they (Kingsley and Thompson) did a good job,” Anderson said. “Mo had two fouls in the first half. I thought they did a good job keeping bodies between him and the basket.
“The first half he made a couple of baskets but in the second half I thought they did an excellent job of sizing him up and doubling up on him at times.
“Trey does a good job anticipating where he is going to be and then Moses comes along the other side blocking it. I thought we had him a little bit off beat tonight.”
Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy was obviously disappointed.
“You go on the road and you try to establish an inside presence and get to the free throw line,” Kennedy said. “Well obviously our inside presence is Sebastian Saiz and he had a rough night.
“Then you're dependent on things where you don't really have an opportunity to beat a team like Arkansas in this building by living and dying on the perimeter. Our issue is giving up 98 points. Has anybody ever beaten Arkansas when they scored 98 in Bud Walton Arena? I dare to say no. So we certainly weren't going to be the first one.”
That Arkansas looked the part of an NCAA Tournament team this week.
The Hogs coupled the Ole Miss rout with a 83-76 win at No. 21 South Carolina on Wednesday.
The Razorbacks have put together five straight good halves and three wins after hitting rock bottom and trailing SEC cellar dweller by double digits at halftime in Baton Rouge the previous Saturday night.
Arkansas appears to be playing with a level of energy now that Anderson wishes he had seen earlier
“The more we do that, the more effective we are going to be and we are going to put people in foul trouble and not only that, you get runs and you get the crowd into it,” Anderson said. “It gives you an adrenaline rush when you start making those plays. Our bench was really active and that is who we are and who we have always been.
“We haven’t done it as much as I wanted to this year, but it is good to see us start doing those kind of things.”
The crowd of 15,214 certainly did its part and Anderson was thankful.
"I would have to say without doubt that was one of our better performances at home," Anderson said. "I'm sure for the fans that came out they sure appreciated it. Our players appreciate the fans coming out and creating an atmosphere."
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