The top billing for this one was Daniel Gafford and Romeo Langford, and boy did it deliver. Both future lottery picks carried their teams, but Gafford and the Hogs were able to outlast the Hoosiers for a 73-72 win.
Langford finished with 22 points, 10 rebounds, and five assists, but couldn’t match Gafford’s dominance, especially in the second half. Gafford had 19 of his 27 points in the second half on 12/15 shooting. He also pulled down 12 boards, had three blocks and two steals. There was a stretch in the second half of over 10 minutes where no other Hog besides Gafford scored, and he went 8/8 from the field and scored 16 points during that stretch.
BIG DAN— Razorback Basketball (@RazorbackMBB) November 18, 2018
27 points, 12 boards, 3 blocks pic.twitter.com/gfVb9RKm6d
Arkansas had a 71-69 lead with 1:41 to go when it looked like free throws might show up again to bite the Hogs late in a game. Gafford went 1-for-2 at the line to only push the lead to three, then after an Indiana turnover, Mason Jones missed the front end of a one and one to keep the door open. Rob Phinisee hit a three to tie things up with 47 seconds remaining. After a miss from Adrio Bailey, the Hoosiers pushed the ball up the court to try and win it in regulation. Phinisee drove to the lane and De’Ron Davis’ tip in attempt agonizingly held on the front rim before missing. In the scramble for the rebound, Jones secured it for the Hogs and was fouled with 2.5 seconds left. He hit the first of his two free throws and Indiana’s desperation heave fell short and the Hogs escaped with the win.
The first half was a back and forth affair that ended with the Hogs up 38-35. All nine Hogs who got in the game scored in that half. They would then go on a quick run that pushed the lead out to 45-35. The Hoosiers battled back, often from Langford or Juwan Morgan, who missed most of the first half due to foul trouble but had all 15 of his points in the second half.
The second half alone had three ties and six lead changes, most came during the stretch when Gafford hit eight straight and carried the rest of this young team through some tough minutes. Towards the end of the game Gafford was visibly exhausted but was able to continuously put forth enough effort to make the difference in this one.
While Gafford was the clear MVP of this one, he got a lot of help from Jones, who finished with 11 points, five rebounds, and seven assists, many of those going to Gafford. Isaiah Joe didn’t have an outstanding shooting night, but he did hit a few threes and finished with 13 points, two boards and three assists.
This win was a huge game for the Hogs in a lot of ways. One it’s a big non conference win on a schedule that doesn’t have a ton of opportunities for those. Whether it’s the NCAA Tournament or more likely the NIT, that win goes a long way to finding a postseason tournament. It’s also is a big confidence boost. After letting the game against Texas slip away, this young team needed a confidence boosting win in a tight situation. Led by Gafford, they were able to make just enough plays to do that.