Arkansas freshman Gafford dominates in win over Fresno State

By KURT VOIGT, AP Sports Writer FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — Jaylen Barford scored 22 points and freshman Daniel Gafford added 16 on 8-of-8 shooting to help Arkansas continue its hot start at home with a 95-79 win over No. 14 Minnesota on Saturday night. The victory is the first for the Razorbacks (7-2) over a top 15 team since defeating No. 5 Texas A&M during the 2015-16 season, and it extends their home winning streak to eight games. Arkansas is averaging 93.2 points per game in five wins at home this season. Barford entered the game second in the Southeastern Conference in scoring at 19.6 per game, and he finished 9 of 15 from the field. Gafford scored his points in 21 minutes, and C.J. Jones finished with 15 points on 5-of-7 3-point shooting. Daryl Macon added 12 points and Anton Beard had 10 for the Razorbacks. The loss is the third in the last four games for the Golden Gophers, who lost earlier in the week at Nebraska. Jordan Murphy led Minnesota (8-3) with 20 points and 10 rebounds, while Amir Coffey had 18 points and Nate Mason 17 in the loss. BIG PICTURE Minnesota: Senior Reggie Lynch entered the game averaging 11.6 points, 8.6 rebounds and a national-best 4.5 blocks per game. The 6-foot-10 Lynch rarely had the chance to affect much of the game on Saturday, committing four fouls in his first 6 minutes of action and finishing with five points in 14 minutes. Arkansas: The Razorbacks entered Saturday having won their four home games by an average of 25.3 points per game. They were nearly as dominant against the Gophers, leading from start to finish and by as many as 19 points in the second half while making their case for a Top 25 ranking. Barford Gafford Arkansas Minnesota UP NEXT Minnesota returns home to face Drake on Monday night. The Razorbacks are off for finals before hosting Troy on Dec. 16. Razorbacks basketball games are live on the radio in Texarkana on Fox Sports Radio 1400. Razorbacks basketball games are live in Camden, Arkansas on Fox Sports Radio 92.7 FM and in Glenwood, Arkansas the Hogs basketball games are live on KHGZ, 98.9 FM. ___ More AP college basketball: http://collegebasketball.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_Top25 ___ Follow Kurt Voigt on Twitter at @Kurt_Voigt_AP

By KURT VOIGT, AP Sports Writer

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — Despite struggling to stay on the court in Arkansas’ first two games because of foul trouble, 6-foot-11 forward Daniel Gafford showed flashes of potential at times for the Razorbacks.


The immensely talented freshman showed all of college basketball just how dominant he can be when playing a full game on Friday night, scoring 25 points in 30 minutes as Arkansas (3-0) stayed perfect with an 83-75 victory over Fresno State.

Gafford was 9 of 11 from the field in the win, also adding eight rebounds, three blocks and two steals for the Razorbacks, who won their first two games over Samford and Bucknell by an average of 33.5 points.

They led by as many as 19 points in the second half on Friday night before settling for the eight-point victory, with Gafford leading the way in nothing short of a coming-out party in Bud Walton Arena.

Gafford said he’s playing smarter

“I felt way more comfortable because I’m playing smarter,” Gafford said. “When I was fouling out the first two games, it just clicked in my mind that I need to be better at defense, and that was going to be a weakness to the team if I didn’t get better at defense.”

Jaylen Barford added 18 points, Anton Beard 15 and Daryl Macon 11 for Arkansas, which shot 48.2 percent (27 of 56) in the win.

Bryson Williams led the Bulldogs (2-1) with 22 points on 11-of-15 shooting before fouling out. Deshon Taylor was 10 of 10 on free throws and added 19 points, and Jahmel Taylor added 12 in the loss.

Fresno State shot 59.4 percent (19 of 32) in the second half to close a 19-point Arkansas lead down to as few as six points in the final minute. However, the Bulldogs simply didn’t have enough answers for Gafford — who Fresno State coach Rodney Terry compared to San Antonio Spurs forward LaMarcus Aldridge when he was a freshman at Texas.

“He needs to go to the NBA right now,” Terry joked. “… He’s just a really good young talent who plays with a great motor and is only going to get better and better. I think the sky’s the limit for how good he’s going to be.”

arkansas win over fresno state

 

ALL-AROUND BARFORD
Both teams were sloppy in the early going, with the Bulldogs taking an early lead despite hitting only 4 of their first 17 shots. Barford, though, scored 12 of his points in the first half to help Arkansas recover and push its lead to as many as 15 points in the first half. The senior, who came into the game averaging 21.5 points per game, also added seven rebounds and five assists as the Razorbacks won their third straight game for the fifth time in six years to open the season.

BIG PICTURE
Fresno State: The Bulldogs reached the NIT last season and controlled the action inside for much of the game, outscoring the Razorbacks 20-16 in the paint at one point. However, that was before Gafford took control in the second half and led Arkansas to an eventual 40-36 scoring edge inside.
Arkansas: Gafford struggled to stay on the court in Arkansas’ first two games because of foul trouble, totaling only 17 and 16 minutes in the two, respectively, while fouling out of each. Despite that, the freshman still averaged 12.5 points in those games. On Friday, Gafford played 30 minutes and dominated on both ends of the court while finishing with six dunks — including a spectacular alley-oop from Beard in the second half. “Every game, he’s going to learn,” Arkansas coach Mike Anderson said. “His team needed him to be out there, and I thought he played a lot smarter.”

UP NEXT
Fresno State returns home to host Evansville on Tuesday.
The Razorbacks face Oklahoma in the Phil Knight Invitational in Portland, Oregon on Thursday.
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More AP college basketball: http://collegebasketball.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_Top25
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Follow Kurt Voigt on Twitter at @Kurt_Voigt_AP