FAYETTEVILLE - Despite attempting 13 free throws and making just seven to their opposition’s 24 of 37, the Arkansas Razorbacks led start to finish and routed the nationally 14th-ranked Minnesota Golden Gophers, 95-79 Saturday night at Walton Arena.
Coach Mike Anderson’s SEC member Razorbacks take a 7-2 record into this week’s University of Arkansas final exams before next playing next Saturday night at their annual game at Verizon Arena in North Little Rock hosting Troy University.
Coach Richard Pitino’s Golden Gophers of the Big Ten fall to 8-3 and host Drake University in a nonconference game in Minneapolis.
Excelling in his first Razorbacks start despite three fouls by the early second half foul trouble, Arkansas freshman big man Daniel Gafford of El Dorado led the Razorbacks blocking shots, five, and rebounds, seven while scoring 16 points.
Senior guard Jaylen Barford, big in a 12-2 second-half run running the Razorbacks away from the Gophers, led all scorers with 22 points.
Freshman guard C.J. Jones, hitting three big 3s in the first half, scored 15 for the game with Razorbacks senior guards Daryl Macon of Little Rock Parkview and Anton Beard of North Little Rock scoring 10 and 12.
The Golden Gophers, convincing winners over Arkansas last season in Minneapolis in this now completed home-and-home series, were led by foul troubled forward Jordan Murphy’s 20 points and 10 rebounds while guards Nate Mason and Amir Coffey scored 17 and 15.
Eschewing their down 11-0 and down 10-0 slow starts in their last two games that they lost big to Houston at Houston and won big at Walton over Colorado State, the Razorbacks led Saturday night’s first half from Barford’s trey for a 3-0 lead at 9:17 through Anton Beard hitting 1 of 2 free throws with four seconds left before the half ended with Arkansas up, 50-42.
Beard tallied Arkansas’ lone first-half free throw. The Razorbacks got to the first-half free throw line for just 1 of 4 to Minnesota’s 10 of 16 and were outrebounded 19-12 but outscored Minnesota, 10-6 on first-half turnovers and got a big 15-7 first-half bench points advantage fueled by freshman reserve guard C.J. Jones’ nine first-half points on 3 of 5 treys.
Arkansas took its first double-digit lead, 25-14 on Jones’ trey at 12:43 and peaked its first half lead and peaked its first half lead by a dozen.
Up 45-34, the Razorbacks at 4:55 the Hogs went scoreless until Gafford’s putback at 1:20 had them up only 47-42.
Gafford picked up his second foul seconds after snapping the Hogs’s scoreless skein.
New Arkansas Football coach Chad Morris was introduced to an ovation exhorted "Go, Hogs" leading a Hog call during a first-half timeout.
" We can’t wait to put it in the left lane and put the pedal to the metal," Morris said before leading the Hog call.