Arkansas storms back to beat Tennessee in OT
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — For 36 minutes on Saturday, 19th-ranked Tennessee seemed poised to open Southeastern Conference play with a big road win over high-scoring Arkansas.
Then the Razorbacks seized control.
Arkansas senior guards Daryl Macon and Jaylen Barford both had career-high scoring games, and the Razorbacks erased a nine-point deficit in the final four minutes of regulation and went on to defeat Tennessee 95-93 in overtime Saturday in the SEC opener for both teams.
Macon scored 33 points and Barford added 28 for Arkansas (11-2, 1-0 SEC), which trailed 70-61 with 3:53 remaining in regulation. The Razorbacks did not take their first lead of the game until freshman forward Daniel Gafford’s dunk off a pass from Macon put Arkansas ahead 73-72 with 44.8 seconds remaining.
Tennessee’s Jordan Bone was fouled with 18.7 seconds remaining and made the second of two free throws for a 73-73 tie. Macon missed a 3-point attempt just before the buzzer to send the game into overtime.
The lead changed hands four times in the first 2:21 of overtime, but a layup by Macon with 2:39 left put Arkansas ahead 79-78 and started a 12-0 run that gave the Razorbacks an 89-78 cushion.
Tennessee’s Lamonte Turner made two 3-pointers in an eight-second span to pull the Volunteers (9-3, 0-1) within two points at 93-91 with eight seconds remaining, but a pair of free throws by Macon made it 95-91 with seven seconds left.
Tennessee’s Chris Darrington made two free throws with 1.5 seconds remaining to pull the Volunteers back within two points, but Arkansas safely inbounded the ball to run out the clock.
Coach Rick Barnes said the Volunteers lost their poise in the final four minutes of regulation, opening the door for Arkansas.
“If you don’t play 40 minutes against teams that are high-level teams, and Arkansas is a high-level team, I think it’s hard to beat anybody if you don’t put together 40 solid minutes,” Barnes said. “Especially being poised. You don’t have to play perfect.”
Macon and Barford scored a combined 41 points in the second half and overtime — including 16 second-half points by Barford and 13 from Macon in the five-minute overtime.
“When you talk about trying to go to that next level, you’ve got to have guys who can make plays. It’s good to see them be in position to make plays,” Arkansas coach Mike Anderson said. “We didn’t have some of the other things going for us, but those guys have the confidence to go out and make plays.”
“They don’t need a lot of space,” Barnes said. “They get rhythm going and they start feeling it, they’re tough to stop.”
Barnes said he was impressed with Arkansas, but not surprised.
“I like the freedom they play with,” he said. “I like their confidence. I thought their players did what they do. I didn’t think they did anything today against us that I haven’t seen them do watching them on tape.”
Bone scored 21 points for Tennessee, which also got 17 points off the bench from senior guard James Daniel III. Junior forward Admiral Schofield made four 3-pointers and finished with 16 points while sophomore forward Grant Williams added 12 points and Turner added 10 for the Volunteers.
“They’re ranked for a reason,” Anderson said of the Volunteers. “I think they’re probably a top 10 team, to tell you the truth.”
Gafford had 15 points and eight rebounds and senior guard Anton Beard added 10 points for Arkansas, which won its sixth consecutive game and improved to 8-0 at home this season.
“We were fortunate to get it into overtime,” Anderson said, “and once we got in overtime, our guys just wouldn’t be denied.”
NOTES: Four of Tennessee’s five starters fouled out. Arkansas had two players foul out. ... Tennessee outrebounded Arkansas, 41-34 and forced the Razorbacks into 12 turnovers, but Arkansas shot 54.1 percent from the floor (33 for 61) compared with 45.1 percent for Tennessee (32 for 71). ... Arkansas has won 11 consecutive games in Bud Walton Arena, dating to last season. The Razorbacks have beaten Tennessee six consecutive times. ... The Razorbacks have scored 90 points or more in nine of their first 13 games.