The Hogs jumped out to a quick shooting start and never looked back as they beat Minnesota by a score of 95-79. The Gophers never led in the game and Arkansas led by double digits for the final 12:44. It was also by far the biggest crowd of the year, with 17,583 in Bud Walton Arena.
It was Daniel Gafford’s first game in the starting line up and he did not disappoint, finishing with 16 points on 8/8 shooting, seven rebounds and six blocks. He finished with several dunks and his blocks got the crowd off their feet every time. Jaylen Barford actually led the Hogs in scoring with 22 points to go along with four rebounds and four assists. CJ Jones was big off the bench, sinking five threes, and Daryl Macon didn’t have an out standing shooting night but had 12 points and tied a career high with eight assists.
The ball movement was critical for the Hogs, who had 23 total assists on the day. Aside from Barford and Macon, Anton Beard pitched in with six assists.
Anytime in the second half Minnesota tried to string together a few baskets Arkansas always had an answer. The Gophers never were able to string anything longer than a 4-0 run together. After Amir Coffey hit free throws to trim the lead to 8, Jones hit a three. Coffey had a layup mid way through the half, then Arlando Cook hit free throws and Barford had a lead to stretch things out to a 19 point lead, the Razorbacks’ biggest of the game.
Arkansas was able to get what they wanted in the paint because they were able to get Reggie Lynch, the nation’s leading shot blocker in early foul trouble. He had four fouls in his first six minutes of game action, and only had one block, well below his season average.
While nearly everyone dealt with some form of foul trouble in this one, the Hogs were able to manage it well. No one fouled out of the game and got key contributions from guys like Dustin Thomas and Trey Thompson when Gafford was on the bench to keep Minnesota from making a run.
The win is going to be a big one come March, Arkansas now is 2-1 in games against teams in the top 50 of KenPom’s rankings. Minnesota is going to be one of the better teams in the Big Ten this year and such a thorough win will be an excellent mark on the resume.