FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) Daryl Macon has had the typical ups and downs many junior-college transfers experience in their first seasons after arriving on the major college basketball scene during his first go-around with Arkansas.
The Razorbacks junior was at his absolute best on Saturday, scoring a career-high 30 points as Arkansas (20-7, 9-5 Southeastern Conference) continued its late-season push toward the NCAA Tournament with a 98-80 win over Mississippi.
Just three weeks after being held scoreless in a loss at Oklahoma State, Macon scored in double figures for the fifth time in six games – finishing a career-best 6 of 9 on 3-pointers and 10 of 13 from the field overall.
Article continues below ...
The 6-foot-3 guard topped his previous high of 23 points, set against Texas in December – capping off his career performance with a late 3-pointer before exiting to a raucous ovation, just days after meeting with Razorbacks coach Mike Anderson about his role with the team.
”I’m playing into the system now, being patient and not rushing anything,” Macon said. ”I’ve been having a few talks with coach over the weekend, and he told me to just trust him, trust the system, and it will all come. Just buy into the coaching, and I felt like that’s what I did tonight, and these were the results.”
Arkansas entered the game following its most important win of the season, an 83-76 victory at No. 21 South Carolina on Wednesday.
The Razorbacks followed up that performance with an electric first-half encore for the energized Bud Walton Arena crowd – leading by as many as 12 points on the way to a 46-37 halftime edge. Macon had 15 of his points in the half, connecting on 5 of 7 shots overall and 3 of 5 3-pointers.
Arkansas led by as many as 24 points in the second half, with Jaylen Barford finishing with 15 points and Anton Beard 11. Moses Kingsley also added 14 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks, but it was Macon who set the tone from the outset.
”I thought today was a good balance for Daryl,” Anderson said. ”My deal with Daryl was just sitting him down and understanding, `Just go be you, man and go have some fun with it.’ … Tonight, I thought he did, he let the game come to him.”
Deandre Burnett led the Rebels (16-11, 7-7) with 27 points, while Terence Davis had 24 in the loss.
Ole Miss had won four of five games entering Saturday, including a dramatic comeback win at LSU , but it allowed Arkansas to shoot 47 percent (31 of 66). Also, the Razorbacks bench – led by Macon – outscored the Rebels 51-12 in total bench points.
”Our issue is giving up 98 points,” Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said. ”Has anybody ever beaten Arkansas if they scored 98 in Bud Walton Arena? I dare to say no.”
Ole Miss: The Rebels had won five of their previous six games in Fayetteville before Saturday, but they shot just 37.1 percent (26 of 70) after having won four of their previous five games this season. Burnett and Davis combined to finish 17 of 30 (56.7 percent) from the field, while the rest of the Rebels were 9 of 40 (22.5 percent).
Arkansas: The blowout win couldn’t have come at a better time for the Razorbacks NCAA Tournament chances, especially with the three straight wins coming on the heels over a four-game stretch in which Arkansas lost three times – including at lowly Missouri.
Former Arkansas standout and SEC Player of the Year Bobby Portis made his way back to his home state for Saturday’s game, taking advantage of the NBA’s All-Star weekend. The Little Rock native and current Chicago Bulls reserve sat court side during the game and led the Bud Walton Arena crowd in a ”Woo Pig Sooie” cheer in the first half.