Lawson delivers for Hogs in wins over Duke, Furman

FAYETTEVILLE — Chandler Lawson helps hold the University of Arkansas basketball team together.

“I would say he’s the best glue guy in the country,” Razorbacks guard El Ellis said last week after Lawson helped Arkansas beat No. 7 Duke 80-75, setting off a court storming by fans in Walton Arena. “He does everything.

“Defends, he rebounds, he can score when he needs to. He’s just big for us and he shows up in big-time games. He’s always ready no matter what. He’s a big part of our team.”

Lawson, a 6-8 fifth-year senior forward, had 7 points, 8 rebounds and a career-high 6 blocked shots in 29 minutes against Duke.

On Monday night, Lawson had a career-high 19 points, 3 rebounds and 3 blocked shots in 18 minutes in the Razorbacks’ 97-83 victory over Furman in Walton Arena.

“Chandler means a great deal to the team,” Arkansas Coach Eric Musselman said. “Attitude. Following the game plan. Being a great teammate. Being no maintenance. He’s a 10 out of 10 in all those categories.

“When you have a player really follow a game plan, good things happen.”

Lawson’s previous scoring high was 16 points against Washington during the 2019-20 season when he was a freshman at Oregon. He got going offensively early on Monday night, scoring seven points in the first 5:09, and finished 8 of 10 from the field, 1 of 2 on three-pointers, and 2 of 2 on free throws.

“He didn’t force any shots,” Musselman said. “It’s hard to get a player to go 8 of 10, but he finished through contact and was aggressive offensively when he did catch the ball.”

Lawson came into the game averaging 4.3 points. The previous four seasons he averaged 4.2 points in 111 games at Oregon and Memphis.

On the season Lawson is averaging 5.9 points, 4.2 rebounds, 1.8 blocked shots and 16.2 minutes and shooting 59.5% (22 of 37) from the field. He’s hit 2 of 4 three-pointers.

“Chandler’s been great,” Arkansas senior guard Khalif Battle said. “That’s my dog. Chandler, I can’t really put into words how much he means to us, to me.

“You see how great he is on the court, but off the court he’s an even better person.

“He’s a team-first guy. His efforts on just getting his hands on basketballs has been amazing. Deflections and steals, it leads to us getting fast-break points, easy points. He’s able to stretch the floor. He can shoot threes.

“I think the sky’s the limit for Chandler and I’m happy he gets to show his game here, because we need it. I’m thankful to call him my teammate.”

Lawson, who transferred to Arkansas after playing the previous three seasons for his hometown Memphis Tigers, has a 7-7 wingspan that makes him particularly effective on defense. He has 16 blocked shots in 146 minutes.

Furman struggled to score around the basket, shooting 11 of 26 on layups.

“My focus is on defense,” Chandler said on the Razorback Sports Network postgame radio show Monday night. “I try to block a lot of shots, try to protect my paint.

“It’s like this is my home and I’ve got to defend it. I don’t want nobody to score in my paint. I feel like I’ve been doing a good job timing the layups … I just have been going after it.”

The Razorbacks outscored the Paladins 52-30 on points in the paint with Lawson getting seven baskets at close range and also altering shots on defense when he wasn’t blocking them.

“Furman is really, really good offensively, but they struggle with points in the paint,” Musselman said. “If you don’t take advantage of it, you’re not going to beat them.

“I thought Chandler did exactly what we asked.”

Lawson has shown he also can match up well against taller players.

When Arkansas beat Purdue 81-77 in overtime in an exhibition game, Lawson helped hold Zach Edey — the Boilermakers’ 7-4 senior center who was the National Player of the Year last season — to 15 points.

Duke 7-0 sophomore Kyle Filipowski, a projected NBA Draft lottery pick, scored 26 points against the Razorbacks, but he shot 9 of 20 from the field and struggled to score when Lawson guarded him.

Filipowski shot 3 of 10 when Lawson was his nearest defender, and six of those misses were blocked shots.

“Against a 7-foot player, he does a great job of walling up,” Musselman said of Lawson’s ability to defend without fouling. “I think he’s a really deceptive shot blocker. He’s done a good job for us going vertical.”

Lawson had one more blocked shot against Duke than his previous career-high of five against Stanford Nov. 22 in the Battle 4 Atlantis.

“You have to have heart over height,” Lawson said on the postgame radio show of guarding players like Edey and Filipowski. “You’ve got to use your quickness and your IQ playing those type of guys. Just outsmart them. Do a great job playing harder than them.”

Lawson also had a career-high 13 rebounds in the Razorbacks’ 77-74 double overtime victory over Stanford. His previous rebounding high was 12 against Washington in 2020 and against SMU last season.

“He has a lot of experience. He’s played at two colleges [prior to Arkansas],” Razorbacks sophomore forward Trevon Brazile said. “It’s good to have an older guy in there.

“He knows how to play the game. He knows when to make the right read.”

Lawson didn’t arrive on the Arkansas campus until July after committing to the Razorbacks out of the transfer portal in late June.

“It’s like a dream come true,” Lawson said Monday night on the postgame radio show of transferring to Arkansas. “I’m finally playing where I want to play in a great environment in the SEC.

“I feel like I’m finally getting a chance to show what I can do. I feel like the more minutes I play, the more winning games that you are going to get out of Chandler Lawson.”

Musselman was asked what Ellis referring to Lawson as a “glue guy” meant to him.

“Glue guy means somebody that is there for his teammates,” Musselman said. “Somebody that might not show up in the box score every night, but is contributing.

“Somebody that is willing to set screens. Somebody that’s willing to put their hands up in our stab stance when their man sets a screen in how we guard pick-and-roll coverages. That’s a glue guy.

“He does a little bit of everything.” 


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