This game was billed as a matchup between a couple of future NBA centers in Daniel Gafford and Charles Bassey. Both delivered but Bassey came up just a bit bigger and helped the Hilltoppers to overcome an eight point halftime deficit to win 78-77.
In the final minute, Bassey passed out of a double team to get the game winning assist. He also blocked Jalen Harris’ shot with 1.8 seconds left and contested Gafford’s final shot as the game expired. He ended the day with 21 points, nine rebounds, and five blocks with no turnovers. Gafford had a solid day of 17 points and nine rebounds as well but it wasn’t enough.
Arkansas had an eight point halftime lead thanks in part to Isaiah Joe, who had 16 of his 19 points in the first half. After the break though the Hilltoppers came storming out with a 24-8 run to take a lead. Joe and Jalen Harris were a big part of the first half lead, but went cold in the second half, shooting just 3/10 in the final 20 minutes.
The second half was red hot for Jared Savage who had 14 of his 20 points in the second half. He was able to kill the Hogs hitting 5/7 three point shots. The Hilltoppers also got 17 from Tavieon Hollingsworth.
That was the toughest mid major test for the Hogs and it ended in their first non conference loss at home since Akron in 2015. Such is life with such a young team. The talent is there but the consistency isn’t yet, and now the Hogs will need to respond to some adversity. Next up is the annual game in Little Rock against a much weaker UTSA team. Then the Hogs are back in Bud Walton for three more games before conference play starts.