Daniel Gafford scored 16 points and added 10 rebounds as host Arkansas took control of a close game midway through the second half to defeat Austin Peay 76-65 in the final nonconference game for both teams Friday night in Fayetteville, Ark.
Isaiah Joe added 15 points and five steals, Keyshawn Embery-Simpson scored 14 off the bench and Reggie Chaney had 12 for the Razorbacks (9-3).
Steve Harris scored 15 while Dayton Gumm and Jabari McGhee added 10 each for the Governors, who fell to 8-5 after seeing their six-game winning streak end. They were seeking their first undefeated month in 11 years.
Arkansas begins SEC play at Texas A&M on Jan. 5. Austin Peay begins Ohio Valley play at home against Eastern Kentucky on Jan. 3.
The Razorbacks led by one point at halftime and the lead changed hands six times before the second half was five minutes old.
The score was tied for the first time in the second half before Harris made two free throws and a jumper to help Austin Peay take a 52-48 lead.
Gafford’s two free throws started the biggest run of the game for either team.
Embery-Simpson followed with a layup and Gafford dunked. Embery-Simpson added a layup and a 3-pointer to complete an 11-0 run that gave the Razorbacks a 59-52 lead.
Jarrett Givens’ layup ended the run and Antwuan Butler’s three-point play pulled the Govs within 61-57.
But Chaney made consecutive layups and Embery-Simpson hit another 3-pointer to push the lead to 68-57 with 4:15 remaining.
McGhee scored five straight points to get Austin Peay within 68-62 with 2:14 left, but Jalen Harris answered with a 3-pointer for Arkansas.
The back-and-forth second half was preceded by a tightly contested first half.
The Governors’ largest lead was four points and the Razorbacks’ was five.
The score was tied six different occasions and Jordan Phillips’ two free throws with 48 seconds left in the half provided the eighth lead change and gave Arkansas a 34-33 halftime lead.
—Field Level Media