Bob Holt is a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Missouri, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and a voter for the Heisman Trophy and AP Top 25 basketball poll. Holt has been awarded Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year twice.
In the lane:
Gafford gets going in 2nd half
Arkansas' Daniel Gafford (10) dunks during the second half of the team's NCAA college basketball game against Texas Tech, Saturday, Jan. 26, 2019, in Lubbock, Texas. (AP Photo/Brad Tollefson)
LUBBOCK, Texas -- University of Arkansas forward Daniel Gafford got in early foul trouble against Texas Tech on Saturday after not being called for a foul in 35 minutes the previous game when the Razorbacks beat Missouri 72-60.
Gafford, a 6-11 sophomore from El Dorado who is expected to be a first-round NBA Draft pick, played just seven minutes in the first half against Texas Tech because he picked up his second foul at the 10:50 mark.
"It was frustrating in the first half, but in college games, you don't always get the calls you want," Gafford said after No. 14 Texas Tech beat Arkansas 67-64. "You've just to learn how to play through it."
Gafford scored 12 of of his team-high 14 points while playing 19 minutes in the second half when he hit 5 of 5 shots. He finished 6 of 6 from the field.
"That guy will play in the NBA," Texas Tech Coach Chris Beard said. "He's special. He can score outside, and he's good passer. He lets the game come to him.
"I know a lot is said about how he needs to get the ball more and all that, but if you really watch him play, he gets the ball. He just makes a lot of unselfish plays. I have a lot of respect for him as a player. He's very, very good."
Despite Gafford scoring just two points in the first half, Arkansas led 33-30 at halftime.
"I was proud of how the other guys stepped up and played," Razorbacks Coach Mike Anderson said. "Then Dan came back in and did his thing in the second half."
Gafford said he had extra motivation after having to sit on the bench for much of the first half.
"What got me going in the second half was that I told myself, 'My team needs me,'" Gafford said. "I knew I couldn't come out playing like freshman Daniel.
"I have to play like the player I can be and not the player that I was last season."
Off night for Joe
Arkansas freshman guard Isaiah Joe had an icy shooting game against Texas Tech after hitting 17 of 34 three-pointers the previous three games and averaging 19.0 points.
Joe was 1 of 6 from the field and 0 of 5 on three-pointers. He came into the game with an SEC-leading 68 three-point baskets and matched his season-low with five points.
"I like the fact that he only got a few off, so I give our guys credit for that," Texas Tech Coach Chris Beard said of shutting down Joe. "He did miss a couple of open shots, [but] that's basketball.
"But he's a great shooter. One of the best shooters I've seen this year on film. But I think you've got to give our guys credit for limiting his shot attempts more than anything."
Joe also was held to five points in Arkansas' 94-88 overtime loss to LSU.
Home sweet home
Texas Tech extended its home winning streak against nonconference opponents to 47 games.
LSU is the last nonconference team to beat the Red Raiders in United Supermarkets Arena – 71-69 on Dec. 13, 2013.
With Texas Tech's victory over Arkansas, the Red Raiders improved to 28-2 at home the last two seasons. They lost at home to Kansas 84-74 last season and to Iowa State 68-64 this season.
The SEC/Big 12 Challenge has been extended for another six years, the conference offices and ESPN announced in a joint statement on Saturday.
Arkansas did not play in the first Challenge but has played in the last five. The SEC won't determine which of its 10 teams will play in the event next season.
The Big 12 -- despite its name -- has only 10 teams, which means four of the SEC's 14 teams can't play in the Challenge.
Arkansas is 2-3 in the Challenge. In addition to Saturday's game, the Razorbacks lost 95-77 at Iowa State in 2015, beat Texas Tech 75-68 in overtime at home in 2016, lost 99-71 at Oklahoma State in 2017 and beat Oklahoma State 66-65 at home last season.
Overall, the SEC is 25-35 in the Challenge, including 4-6 in Saturday's games.
Arkansas took a 33-30 halftime lead with the help of two unlikely three-point baskets.
First, sophomore forward Gabe Osabuohien, who was 2 of 14 on three-pointers coming into the game, hit from beyond the arc to pull the Razorbacks within 27-26 with 3:41 left in the half.
Then, sophomore guard Jalen Harris hit a shot from about 45 feet to beat the halftime buzzer. He was 6 of 45 on three-point attempts before making the shot.
Despite those unexpected baskets, Arkansas finished 4 of 19 on three-pointers
Arkansas freshman guard Isaiah Joe took his team-leading 14th charge of the season when he held his ground in the lane and Jarrett Culver slammed into him with 32.4 seconds left in the first half.
Freshman guard Keyshawn Embery-Simpson took his third charge when he drew contact from Culver with 15:36 left in the first half.
Avery Benson, who played high school ball at Siloam Springs, Springdale Har-Ber and Southwest Christian Academy in Little Rock, is a redshirt freshman walk-on guard for Texas Tech.
Benson played one minute total against Arkansas, but got in for a few seconds in each half. He had played 38 minutes total this season coming into Saturday's game and hadn't played in any of the Red Raiders' seven Big 12 games.
"I told him this morning, if you think I'm not going to play you today, you don't know me," Texas Tech Coach Chris Beard said. "He was going to play in tonight's game, and he answered the call."
When Beard was the coach at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock during the 2015-16 season, he offered Benson a scholarship. After Beard was hired at Texas Tech, he recruited Benson as a preferred walk-on.
"If Avery stays the course and stays at Texas Tech, he's going to end up being a really, really good Big 12 player," Beard said. "A lot of times in this world of transferring and this and that, we'll see what happens. But I love Avery Benson. He's the real deal."
Anderson vs. Tech
Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson is 7-2 as a head coach against Texas Tech, including 6-1 when he was at Missouri and 1-1 with the Razorbacks.
Vs. Texas Tech
Texas Tech's victory made the Red Raiders 40-39 against Arkansas and the only former Southwest Conference rival to have a winning record against the Razorbacks.
Among the other teams that formed the SWC, Arkansas is 104-38 against TCU; 103-55 against Texas A&M, which now plays in the SEC; 101-40 against Rice; 94-47 against Baylor; 87-67 against Texas; 96-59 against SMU; and 22-18 against Houston.
Arkansas is 11-24 at Texas Tech, 24-11 at home and 4-5 in neutral site games.
The Razorbacks won 11 in a row against the Red Raiders from 1977-84. Texas Tech also had an 11-game winning streak in the series from 1969-74.
Arkansas won the teams' final four SWC meetings. The series is 2-2 in nonconference games.
Sports on 01/27/2019
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