Macon, Barford pace Arkansas to opening win over Samford
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) Daryl Macon was second on Arkansas in scoring a year ago, even while easing his way into his first season of major college basketball.
Macon showed he isn’t planning on easing his way into anything this season on Friday night, scoring 16 points and finishing with a career-best eight assists as the Razorbacks rolled to an opening 95-56 win over Samford.
Six players scored in double figures for Arkansas, which led by as many as 44 points midway through the second half and put the game out of reach early. Macon hit his first four shots to key a 16-0 first-half run that left little doubt about the outcome, and the Razorbacks had 28 assists on their 36 baskets – including several in traffic and of the no-look variety from Macon.
The senior led Arkansas with 80 assists last season and his previous best in a game was six, coming against Missouri in January.
”That’s something I had to add to my game in order for it to be complete,” Macon said. ”One thing I love doing is getting my teammates involved, especially when we have a lot of freshmen out there that’s a little nervous and need help gelling with the rest of the team.”
For a Razorbacks team that is coming off a second NCAA Tournament appearance in three years a season ago, Friday night was the perfect start to coach Mike Anderson’s seventh season. The win marked the 23rd straight year Arkansas has opened its season with a victory, the 44th time it’s done so at home to start a season.
Jaylen Barford matched Macon’s team high with 16 points, including a spurt of eight straight points to open the second half that pushed Arkansas’ lead to 55-19. The Razorbacks forced 19 turnovers that led to 35 points, and they held the Bulldogs to 20-of-61 shooting (32.8 percent) while finishing 36 of 63 (57.1 percent) from the field.
”It just seemed like our guys were dialed in tonight,” Anderson said.
Arkansas led by as many as 30 points in the first half on its way to the convincing win, and sophomore Adrio Bailey finished with a career-best 15 points. Anton Beard added 14 for the Razorbacks, while C.J. Jones and freshman Daniel Gafford had 10 each.
Alex Thompson scored 10 points to lead Samford, which led 6-5 in the early going before the 16-0 Arkansas run stunned the Bulldogs.
”I would just call that a good old-fashioned punking,” Samford coach Scott Padgett said. ”… I don’t know that they had to run a play tonight. When guys go up in us, we panicked and when things didn’t go well to start, our attitude was terrible because we didn’t have fight in us.”
Samford: The Bulldogs finished 20-16 last season and were picked to finish second in the Southern Conference this year. Samford also returned 12 of its 13 players from a year ago, but it had no answer defensively for the Razorbacks – who hit 18 of 30 shots (60 percent) in the first half and led by as many as 44 points at 71-27 midway through the second half.
Arkansas: The Razorbacks played without suspended forwards Arlando Cook and Dustin Thomas on Friday night. Cook is out after an offseason arrest, while Thomas missed the game because of a violation of team rules. The lack of size and experience didn’t hamper Arkansas, which used quality interior passing on its way to numerous point-blank looks and dunks. In addition to Macon’s passing output, Barford matched his career high with six assists while Beard also finished with six.
Bailey’s previous best in scoring was a 14-point effort against Austin Peay last season, and the sophomore was 7 of 8 from the field on Friday night – including several dunks in traffic. He also added 6 rebounds while providing plenty of energy in the frontcourt alongside the much-heralded Gafford.
Samford hosts Alabama A&M on Monday.
The Razorbacks have a quick turnaround before hosting preseason Patriot League favorite Bucknell on Sunday.
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