Arkansas men hold off Georgia in 70-60 thriller

By Otis Kirk for the Nate Allen Sports Service
Arkansas defeated Georgia 70-60 Tuesday night in Bud Walton Arena.
The Razorbacks held a narrow 31-29 lead at intermission thanks to a steal and layup by Jalen Harris with :03 remaining. Mason Jones had tied the game at 29 on a three-point basket with 19 seconds remaining in the opening half.
Arkansas (12-8, 3-4) won the game despite star forward Daniel Gafford battling foul trouble much of the game. Gafford, who only played nine minutes in the first half, picked up his third foul in the first two minutes of the second half as did Jones.
It was Jones who kept Arkansas in the game in the first half as he scored 15 points. In the first half, Jones was 6-10 from the field while the rest of the Razorbacks only made five shots in 22 attempts. Jones’ basket with 5:27 remaining in the first half gave the Hogs their first lead of the game.
Jones finished the game with 23 points to lead the Hogs. Jalen Harris was next with 13 points, three assists and two blocks. Gafford was next with 11 and also had five rebounds, two assists and four blocks. Following the game Mike Anderson was complimentary of his defense and bench.
“Our defense is ahead of our offense right now,” Anderson said. “Our bench came in and did a great job. They turned it over (16-4) and we didn’t and that was the difference in the game. This was a team win.”
Georgia (10-10, 1-6) won the battle of the boards 26-14 in the first half and 54-30 overall as they took advantage of Gafford getting limited playing time due to foul trouble.
With Jones and Gafford in early foul trouble in second half, Arkansas got a lift from Gabe Osabuohien when he nailed a three-pointer with 16:09 remaining in the game. The trey gave the Hogs a 36-31 lead.
Adrio Bailey also provided some early offense for the Razorbacks in the second half. He scored six points in the first seven minutes of the second half before picking up his fourth personal foul with 12:55 remaining in regulation. Bailey’s production would have been even better but a dunk he had went down close to bottom of net and then some how came back out. The scoring from Bailey came after he just scored two points in the first 20 minutes.
Jones reentered the game when Bailey had to exit and immediately hit a basket with 12:04 remaining giving the Hogs a 44-42 lead. The basket pushed Jones’ total to 17 points. Gafford also came back in the game and went on a quick 4-0 run to give Arkansas a 50-45 lead with 9:37 remaining. Tom Crean immediately called timeout.
Gafford then gave the Razorbacks a 52-45 lead on a dunk off of a nice assist from Reggie Chaney. The seven-point lead with 8:32 remaining in the game was Arkansas’ biggest of the night to that point. That gave Gafford 10 points in just 15 minutes on the court. He was able to finish the game without picking up any additional fouls.
The Bulldogs then scored the next seven points to tie the game at 52. However, at that point, true freshman Isaiah Joe, who sat much of the game with an illness, hit a three from the corner to push the Hogs to a 55-52 lead with 5:06 remaining in regulation. It was the former Fort Smith Northside standout’s first basket of the game.
Jones then pushed the lead back to six points, 58-52, when he also hit a trey with 4:20 remaining. The Bulldogs never led again. Chaney’s layup with 2:08 remaining gave Arkansas a 62-54 lead and put the game away as Harris kept the Dogs in check in final minute hitting his free throws.
For the game, Arkansas shot 41 percent from the field compared to 31 for Georgia. Arkansas only hit 24 percent of its three-pointers while Georgia hit 32. Arkansas did hit 67 percent from the free throw line compared to 52 for Georgia.
Nicolas Claxton and Derek Ogbeide each had 14 points to lead the Bulldogs while William Jackson II added 11.
Arkansas will be in Baton Rouge on Saturday to take on LSU at 5 p.m. on the SEC Network. LSU defeated Arkansas 94-88 on Jan. 12 in Fayetteville.

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