Barford’s 23 points help Arkansas hold off Ole Miss, 97-93
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) Jaylen Barford is known for his ability to make seemingly impossible shots in traffic near the basket.
When those circus shots are falling for the 6-foot-3 guard as frequently as they did on Saturday, Arkansas looks every bit like a team on track for a third NCAA Tournament appearance in the last four seasons.
Barford hit 8 of 11 shots and scored 23 points to help the Razorbacks (13-6, 3-4 Southeastern Conference) hold on for a 97-93 win over Mississippi on Saturday.
The senior, the SEC’s third-leading scorer at 18.9 points per game, also had five rebounds, four assists and three steals while helping Arkansas put an end to a stretch of four losses in its last five games. The 97 points were the most the Razorbacks have scored in SEC play, with several baskets coming from a driving Barford – who twisted and turned to avoid defenders.
”As I tell everybody, that goal does not move,” Barford said. ”Once I go to the hole and I see that rim, I see somebody’s body and I get it like I want to, I’m going to make them wait for me to get that shot up.”
Daryl Macon added 20 points for Arkansas, hitting 11 of 12 free throws – including several in the closing minute that helped fight off the hard-charging Rebels (10-9, 3-4).
Freshman Daniel Gafford also continued his season-long emergence as a force in the SEC, finishing with 15 points, nine rebounds, three steals and three blocks, while C.J. Jones and Darious Hall each also finished in double figures with 11 points.
It was Barford, however, who scored 16 of his points in the second half and continued to play with a look of urgency for an Arkansas team that had struggled mightily since earning a No. 22 ranking in The Associated Press poll following an SEC-opening win over Tennessee three weeks ago.
”I just want to win, I know my teammates want to win and look for me to lead the way,” Barford said. ”I’ve just got to keep doing that, lead by example and do everything I can to have this team in a good mindset.”
Terence Davis was 10 of 15 from the field and led Ole Miss with a season-high 30 points. His performance came after a six-game stretch during which the junior had hit only 14 of 62 shots (22.6 percent), and it featured a 5-of-8 effort on 3-pointers.
”He’s really been struggling, so it was good to see him aggressive,” Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said. ”The ball went in a couple of times, and he was really our only productive guy offensively early.”
Breein Tyree added 16 points in the loss, and Deandre Burnett and Bruce Stevens had 15 each for the Rebels.
Arkansas senior forward Dustin Thomas didn’t play on Saturday, and Razorbacks coach Mike Anderson called the move a ”coach’s decision.” The 6-foot-8 Thomas has started 10 games this season and played 28 minutes in a loss at Florida earlier in the week.
Ole Miss: The Rebels had won five of their last seven games in Bud Walton Arena. After trailing by as many as 18 points in the first half, they cut Arkansas’ lead to as few as two points with 12 seconds left on a 3-pointer by Davis. However, Macon hit four straight free throws in the closing minute to secure the win.
Arkansas: Jones was one of Arkansas’ top scorers during non-conference action, but he was mired in a 7-of-32 shooting (21.9 percent) slump over his last seven games before Saturday. The sophomore finally found his stroke against the Rebels, finishing 4 of 7 from the field and scoring in double figures for the first time since a win over Oral Roberts on Dec. 19. ”I thought C.J. had one of those games where he continues to almost break out,” Anderson said.
Ole Miss hosts Alabama on Tuesday.
The Razorbacks are at Georgia on Tuesday.
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