FAYETTEVILLE - Arkansas almost honored Arkansas Hall of Famer Sidney Moncrief with an almost Hall of Fame type comeback.
But the one lead (83-81) during the game the Razorbacks took on the first basket of overtime courtesy of Daniel Gafford obviously didn’t suffice against the LSU Tigers.
LSU, answering Gafford’s bucket with consecutive threes and putting it out out of reach on Skylar Mays and-one 3-point play at 1:29 of OT prevailed, 94-88 in overtime of Saturday’s SEC game that the Tigers led by 13 with 17:17 left in the second half at Walton Arena.
Moncrief, the Eddie Sutton 1970s Razorbacks all-time great and NBA great honored Saturday for his Nov. 18 induction into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame, saw Arkansas 6-foot-11 sophomore star center Gafford of El Dorado score a career and game high 32 points, augmented by Arkansas sophomore guard Mason Jones scoring 22 while freshman reserve forward Reggie Chaney kept Arkansas competitive in LSY’s 50-42 by scoring 10 of his eventual 12 points while grabbing five rebounds.
LSU more than countered b hitting 10 of 25 threes to Arkansas’ 3 of 16 and hitting 18 of 22 free throws to Arkansas squandering too many of hitting 17 of 28.
Naz Reid, LSU’s 6-11 freshman center, scored 27 points, two shy of his career high, including a stunning 4 of 4 3-pointers while junior transfer small forward Marlon Taylor scored a career high 21 points while sophomore point guard Tremont Waters, the principal thorn in Arkansas’ side last season when the Tigers swept Arkansas home and home in Fayetteville and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, scored 17 points and dealt 11 assists in 42 minutes though he did commit seven turnovers while Mays scored 15, the last three on that play with 1:29 left from which Arkansas could not recover.
Arkansas now losing four games at Walton Arena where the Hogs have been mostly invincible during coach Mike Anderson’s eight-years here, dropped to 10-5 overall, 1-2 in the SEC having lost 57-51 last Wednesday at Walton.
The Razorbacks visit the SEC’s current best team, nationally No. 3 Tennessee, Tuesday night in Knoxville, Tenn.
Coach Will Wade’s LSU Tigers advance to 12-3, 2-0 and visit the red Ole Miss Rebels Tuesday night in Oxford, Miss.
Against Florida Arkansas lagged 16 points with 9 minutes left and cut the deficit to two before having to foul and losing by six.
There were some mathematical similarities to each game but even while outplayed in Saturday’s first half, the Hogs were never sluggish like the entire first half and first 11 minutes of the second half against Florida.
“Our guys, they spilled their guts and heart on that floor and were trying to find a way to win,” Anderson said. “Still the little things that we’ve got to do to finish off a game against a very talented LSU team. Give them credit. The Naz Reid kid, I’m sure that was his best game as well as the Taylor kid. They stepped up and made some big -plays for them. Of course you know Tremont is going to do his and Skylar. They made plays when they had to, made free throws when they had to. But it (Arkansas’ defeat) wasn’t because of lack of effort.”
After springing Gafford for only four official attempted shots against Florida, the Razorbacks made a concerted effort to get Gafford the ball and he responded with 14 of 19 from the field that he wished enhanced better than his 4 of 9 from the free throw line.
“I would say the main thing we have to do to lock down home is play defense and another thing is to hit free throws,” Gafford said.
But he couldn’t have gotten to the line without him better positioning himself to receive the ball and his teammates, dishing 21 total assists, better concentrating to find him.
“They had no answer for him,” Anderson said. “Our guys did a much better job of finding him on time and he did a good job of finishing. I thought he positioned himself closer to the basket. We wanted to make sure it was inside-out today.”
LSU Coach Will Wade concurred how Gafford vexed the Tigers as did Arkansas’ second-half pressure finally making up the 13-point deficit on Gafford’s dunk with 31 seconds left in regulation achieving the 81-81 overtime.
“Gafford was a man down there and did a tremendous job and we didn’t have many answers for him,” Wade said. “They got down like they did in the Florida game and they turned up the heat and came back. We lost our composure a little bit, but we were able to regain it in overtime.”
While Wade had no answer for Gafford, Anderson had no answer for Reid, especially with him stepping out hitting 4 of 4 threes.
“I guess they read me wrong,” Reid said.
Oh they knew he was 12 of 36 on treys before the game.
“We knew he was capable of shooting it,” Anderson said. “But not 4 for 4.
He’s a screen and pop guy and we tried to switch on him. We did a couple of times but the most crucial moments we didn’t and he made us pay for it.”