It’s a good thing that was the last game in Bud Walton Arena, at least that’s what the rims are thinking. On senior night it was the freshman who stole the show, Daniel Gafford had seven thunderous dunks on a career night that nearly had a triple double. His 21 point, 10 rebound, seven block night led the way for a 91-82 win over Auburn and gave the Hogs another very solid resume win at the end of the year.
The seniors played their parts as well. Daryl Macon had 16 (on 6/7 shooting), Jaylen Barford had 20, and both joined the 1,000 point club for their careers. They were just the 6th and 7th players in program history to do that in just two years. The Hogs also got a solid all around night from Anton Beard (11 points, four rebounds, five assists) and Arlando Cook who pitched in with seven points.
In the first half, Auburn was cold shooting from outside, and inside Gafford was sending back almost everything the Tigers threw up. Arkansas led for nearly the entire first half and took a 10 point lead into the break.
In the second half the two teams kept trading runs. Arkansas opened with a 9-0 run and looked like they could run away with things. Again Gafford was at the center of everything, scoring the first six points of the half. The Tigers wouldn’t go down easily though, answering with a 16-4 run of their own to cut the lead to seven.
Then a line up composed of role players was able to answer with a run of their own. With Barford, Macon, and Gafford on the bench, Beard led a 10-2 run that gave the Hogs control of the game again. The closest Auburn would get was a six point deficit with three minutes to go, but Gafford’s final dunk of the night was the exclamation point as the rest of the points scored on the night were free throws.
Arkansas now sits at 21-9 overall and 10-7 in conference play. Because Florida and Kentucky play each other on the final day of the regular season, the Hogs control their own destiny for a top-4 seed in the SEC tournament. It also give the Hogs another high quality win with the season winding down. Arkansas will want to avoid the 7-10 seed range in the tournament, and will likely need to make some noise in the SEC Tournament to do so, but the win over Auburn makes that a lot more likely.