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December 15, 2017
El Dorado News Times

Anderson pleased with Razorbacks' defense against Huskies

This article was published November 28, 2017 at 5:00 a.m.

By Nate Allen

Special to the News-Times

FAYETTEVILLE - Off his Razorbacks routing the UConn Huskies 102-67 Sunday, Arkansas coach Mike Anderson was even more impressed with holding UConn to 67 points than Arkansas scoring 102.

Especially so, Anderson said, since Arkansas’ defense so considerably fueled its offense.

“I requested our guys: ‘Let’s go out and have some fun with our defense,” Anderson said. “And I thought right off the bat our defense was very instrumental in creating some easy offense for us We took advantage from what Connecticut was giving us.”

Conversely, UConn coach Kevin Ollie said the Huskies’ lack of offense reflected in their lack of defense.

“You can’t let your lack of shots (23-of-61 compared to Arkansas’ 33-of-55, including 11-of-19 threes) on the offensive end dictate your defensive end,” Ollie said.

In the Victory bracket of the Phil Knight Invitational in Portland, Ore., that bracketed tourney winner Michigan State, runner-up North Carolina, third-place Arkansas, Oklahoma, UConn, Oregon, the University Portland and Portland State for games last Thursday, Friday and Sunday, UConn gave the home state Oregon Ducks fits, beating them 81-73. They also gave the nationally No. 4 Michigan State Spartans trouble into the second half before the Spartans surged to a 77-57 triumph.

Arkansas won a wild 92-83 game over Oklahoma for openers Thursday, and like UConn against Michigan State, battled ninth-ranked reigning national champion North Carolina late in the second half before a 13-0 closing run enabled the Tar Heels to stamp an 87-68 triumph.

North Carolina presumably wins anyway considering its closing margin, but the Razorbacks were hampered by senior guard Daryl Macon, 27 points against Oklahoma, injuring an ankle and not able to return when the Tar Heels ran away with the game.

Anderson was not much counting on Macon to be healthy by Sunday, but the Little Rock Parkview graduate played and scored 16 points in 26 minutes, third in minutes against UConn only behind the 27 minutes played by Arkansas senior guards Jaylen Barford, a team-leading 24 points, and senior guard and North Little Rock High alum Anton Beard, nine points and four assists.

“I didn’t know until game time when he warmed up if he could play,” Anderson said. “And obviously, he felt he could go out there and performed. You get the adrenaline and in the flow of the game and you forget that stuff.”

Macon determined during the Saturday off day that he would start against UConn.

“I knew last (Saturday) night that I was going to play,” Macon said after Sunday’s game in Portland. “I’ve been doing treatment. Dave (England, the veteran Arkansas trainer) is one of the best trainers and I knew he was going to get me right today. So I had a lot of confidence going out.”

If Macon overstressed the ankle Sunday, he should have ample healing time before Arkansas next plays Saturday night against the Houston Cougars in Houston.

Outrebounded 46-30 by North Carolina, the Razorbacks certainly rebounded from their defeat by outrebounding Connecticut 42-26.

The Razorbacks grabbed 34 defensive rebounds, limiting UConn to many one-shot possessions even as UConn guard Jalen Adams scored a game-leading 25 points, shooting 10-for-25.

“We did a lot of good things in a lot of good phases,” Anderson said Sunday. “Today we came with the right mindset and the shots flowed, too.”

Sophomore guard C.J. Jones, 12 points off the bench against North Carolina and a career-high 19 points off the bench against UConn, reached another gear offensively in Portland.

Meanwhile Barford, 19, 21 and 24 points against Oklahoma, North Carolina and UConn, was Arkansas’ lone representative on the Victory Bracket’s All-Tournament team.

“He can score in bunches,” Anderson said of Barford.

Can he ever, UConn’s Ollie lamented.

“He’s an excellent player,” Ollie said. “He can shoot it. He can go off the dribble. They ran in transition and they got him to the open spots and they got to the free-throw line (Arkansas made 25-of-33 free throws to UConn’s 14-of-22) too.”

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