FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – It’s called Keeping up with the Joneses. More a social phenomenon in which families feel they have to continue collecting possessions in order to feel adequate with other families. Applied to Arkansas, it’s simply collecting wins so the Razorbacks don’t fall behind their fellow middle-class brethren in the SEC.
As has been the case all season, Arkansas was able to thanks to its two heads of household.
Daryl Macon had 21 points and Jaylen Barford added another 16 to lead their team to a 72-54 win over Vanderbilt on an icy Saturday night in northwest Arkansas. The win is the Razorbacks’ second straight and moves them to .500 in league play. That’s tied for sixth in the SEC with Kentucky, Texas A&M and Mississippi State. The Bulldogs and Aggies have already beaten the Razorbacks this year. Arkansas plays Kentucky at Bud Walton Arena in 10 days.
Vanderbilt was buzzing around in the first few minutes of the second half, trailing by just eight points, 39-31. The Commodores had never lead, but weren’t letting Arkansas (17-8, 6-6) pull away, either. Gnat-like in their annoyance of the Razorbacks.
Then Baford and Macon woke up the light crowd. Barford made 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions, and after a Vanderbilt field goal, Macon popped another trey. The lead exploded from eight to 16 in practically no time.
Vanderbilt, the 12th-place scoring team in the 14-team SEC, didn’t have the juice to rally.
Most positive for Arkansas – other than the win – was the return to form of big man Daniel Gafford. He had averaged just six points per game in his last four games after averaging 13 in his first seven after SEC play began. Against Vanderbilt, and its limited interior prescence, Gafford dropped 16. He also had nine rebounds and a career-high seven blocks.
Macon’s 21 points gave him seven straight games in which he has scored at least 20. Barford’s 16 gave him double figures in 14 of his last 15 games.
Had the weather not kept so many people at home instead of watching the game from Bud Walton Arena, the chants of “De-fense! De-fense!” would have been even louder. Arkansas was excellent defensively Saturday night. Vanderbilt shot just 15 percent in the first half. Four made field goals. That’s it. The Commodores ultimately just made XX percent of their shots.
Turnovers. The game probably should not have been as close as it was except the Razorbacks kept giving away chances. Ten turnovers at the break was the biggest reason Arkansas had just 28 points to Vandy’s 21.
What’s next for Arkansas?
One more game in the weakest part of Arkansas’ SEC schedule. The Razorbacks play at Ole Miss on Tuesday night. The Rebels are just 4-8 in SEC play, tied for second-to-last, just in front of Vanderbilt.
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