FAYETTEVILLE — Daryl Macon and Jaylen Barford won Arkansas’ SEC basketball war over South Carolina totaling 49 points off their combined 28 shots from the field and 17 of 19 shots from the free throw line.
Yet before even them, Coach Mike Anderson postgame praised the Razorback whose basketball gun stayed holstered throughout Arkansas’ 81-65 victory last Tuesday night at Walton Arena.
Reserve freshman forward Gabe Osabuohien’s stayed 0 for 0 from the field and 0 for 0 from the line for his career high 17 minutes. But those zeros didn’t add up to nothing with Anderson. Before praising anyone, Anderson praised everything on Osabuohien’s blue-collar play as defining the blue-collar team defensive effort Tuesday night.
It was a blue-collar team effort that the coach said lacked in the Razorbacks’ previous two games, 80-66 and 94-86 SEC road losses to Texas A&M and LSU.
“There’s a guy that didn’t even take a shot tonight, Gabe, and he probably had the most impact on the game,” Anderson said. “He took two charges, got a 5-second call, got a big rebound and kick-out in the second half for a 3-point shot by Barford. His energy shot throughout this whole team.”
For the now 16-8 overall/5-6 in the SEC Razorbacks, Osabuohien’s SEC game experience totaled just the last mop-up minute at Texas A&M before his 17 minutes Tuesday.
Osabuohien first entered the game at 15:43 of the first half for starting sophomore forward Adrio Bailey. He logged 10 minutes the first half and seven minutes helping the Hogs break it open in the second half including, among his four rebounds, the offensive board and kick-out for Barford’s three, Arkansas’ second bucket during its game-breaking 13-2 run.
Defensively, Osabuohien, 6-8, 219, joined alternating post players Daniel Gafford, the 6-11 freshman from El Dorado, and Trey Thompson, the 6-9 senior from Madison via Forrest City High in negating Chris Silva, South Carolina’s 6-9 junior forward and top returnee off the Gamecocks’ senior-laden 2017 Final Four team.
Silva arrived averaging 17.0 points and 7.8 rebounds in South Carolina’s 10 SEC games and making 79 of 106 SEC free throw attempts.
Silva scored only eight on the Hogs with his six rebounds somewhat negated by four turnovers. After sinking 6 of 8 first-half free throws, Silva never got to the line in the second half.
“We fought him for position,” Anderson said. “The times he got position, man, you could see he can really score. So we sent a lot of people in there. and he had to kick it out.”
Osabuohien played a part in that.
Stars of the game Macon and Barford relished sharing their deserved limelight when asked about the blue-collar freshman.
“I think it was great for Gabe and us as a team because he brought a lot of energy,” Barford said. “He brought things that we haven’t been doing lately, like getting charges. He does it every day in practice, so we weren’t surprised. He had a great game for us, even though he didn’t take any shots. He just did the little things that helped us out.”
Macon lauded the Canadian come to Arkansas via Southwest Christian Academy in Little Rock for his patience sitting so long behind Thompson, sometimes used in tandem with Gafford and a big 6-points-6-rebounds-3 blocked shots 25-minutes factor Tuesday , Bailey and 6-8 senior forwards Dustin Thomas and Arlando Cook.
“I have to give a big shoutout to Gabe,” Macon said. “He’s been patient, waiting on his time to play and tonight he was ready when his number was called.”
A late signee, Osabuohien was considered something of a project but so impressed Anderson in practices and blue-collar, charge-taking early season efforts mopping up routs over Samford and Bucknell that the coach promised to play him when Thompson had injured before Arkansas edged Ole Miss, 97-93 on Jan. 20 at Walton.
“ I think Gabe’s a great second line defender in position to read and help,” Anderson said before that Ole Miss game. “He’s a blue-collar player who rebounds in traffic, is a good passer, too, and goes out and does some of that dirty work that you want. He'll play, without a doubt.”