'He's always ready': Lawson vital to Hogs' recent success

Arkansas forward Chandler Lawson (8) drives as Duke center Kyle Filipowski (30) defends, Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2023, during the first half of the Razorbacks’ game against the Blue Devils at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville. Visit nwaonline.com/photo for the photo gallery.

FAYETTEVILLE — One of Arkansas’ final additions from the NCAA transfer portal in the offseason has already proven to be one of its most important pieces.

Chandler Lawson, a 6-8 transfer from Memphis, committed to the Razorbacks in the next-to-last week of June. Though he arrived on campus later than most newcomers, Lawson quickly got up to speed and blossomed into a trusted piece in Eric Musselman’s rotation.

The forward was vital to Arkansas’ recent wins over Stanford at Battle 4 Atlantis last week and No. 7 Duke on Wednesday.

In those games, he combined for 16 points, 21 rebounds and 11 blocks.

“He’s always ready to play,” forward Trevon Brazile said of Lawson. “He has a lot of experience. He’s played at [multiple] colleges. It’s good to have an older guy in there. He knows how to play the game.

“He’s definitely one of the best glue guys in the country.”

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At the time, Lawson put together his most impactful regular-season performance against the Cardinal, who the Razorbacks beat in double overtime. He finished with 9 points, 13 rebounds and 5 blocks in 36 minutes off the bench.

Stanford was 3 of 13 from the field against Lawson, including 2 of 9 on two-point attempts.

“Man, he was big for us,” Brazile said Nov. 22. “It’s good to have a wingman in there with me to help me with all that.”

Lawson was great again in Arkansas’ 80-75 home win over the Blue Devils, turning in 7 points, 8 rebounds, 6 blocks, 1 steal and 1 assist.

“Against a 7-foot player, he does a great job of walling up,” Musselman said of Lawson, who matched up with Duke forward Kyle Filipowski. “I think he’s a really deceptive shot blocker. He’s done a good job for us going vertical. The great thing is we’re going to run into a lot of real big guys in our league who can score with their back to the basket and around the rim.

“So we’re going to need [him]. The shots blocked…to play Duke and have 10 blocks [as a team] is impressive.”

Nothing for the Blue Devils came easy with Lawson defending. They were 3 of 15 from the field — 2 of 13 inside the arc — when he was the nearest Arkansas defender.

Filipowski wound up with a 26-point, 10-rebound double-double, but needed 20 shots and 8 free throw attempts to get there. Against Lawson, the preseason All-American was 3-of-10 shooting and had 4 shots blocked.

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Three of Lawson’s eight rebounds in the game were on the offensive end, and his assist came on a transition layup by guard Khalif Battle.

His first offensive board eventually led to a dunk for freshman Layden Blocker that was assisted by Battle. And his third keyed a second-chance three-pointer by guard Jeremiah Davenport with 24 seconds remaining in the first half.

Lawson, too, set the off-ball screen against Duke’s zone defense that freed Davenport for the perimeter look.

“I would say he’s the best glue guy in the country,” guard El Ellis said. “He does everything — defends, he rebounds, he can score when he needs to. He’s just big for us and he shows up in big-time games.”

According to Sports Reference, Lawson is the sixth Razorback since the 2010-11 season to finish a game with at least 7 points, 8 rebounds and 6 blocks.

The others are Makhel Mitchell, Daniel Gafford, Moses Kingsley, Bobby Portis and Delvon Johnson.

“He’s always ready no matter what,” Ellis added. “He’s a big part of our team.”