Gafford’s tip-in lifts Arkansas past Oklahoma State, 66-65
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — Daryl Macon’s worst game in his two seasons at Arkansas came in a blowout loss at Oklahoma State a year ago.
The senior guard made amends for that lackluster performance on Saturday, and the Razorbacks returned the favor at home with a 66-65 win over the Cowboys.
Daniel Gafford put the finishing touch on the comeback win for Arkansas (15-6), tipping in Anton Beard’s missed floater with 16.2 seconds to give the Razorbacks the one-point lead.
It was Macon, however, who helped Arkansas rally from 13 points down in the first half — scoring a game-high 22 points off the bench. Macon’s effort came a year after he was 0 of 8 from the field, including 0 of 6 from 3-point range, and was held scoreless for the only time in his Razorbacks career.
“I wasn’t even thinking about last year,” Macon said. “I just went out there and played ball. When you’re playing this game, things happen and sometimes you’re not going to get your average and sometimes you are. You’ve just got to keep pushing.”
Macon was the lone Razorbacks player to finish in double figures, and he finished 7 of 13 from the field — 4 of 7 on 3-pointers.
With leading scorer Jaylen Barford struggling though a 2-of-11 shooting performance, Arkansas was forced to rely on its defense in the second half. The Razorbacks responded on that end of the court, holding Oklahoma State (13-8) to only two field goals in the final 16:28 and none in the last 7:33 of the game.
That included a pair of misses at close range by Jeffrey Carroll and Mitchell Solomon in the closing seconds for the Cowboys. The misses followed Gafford’s tip-in at the other end for Arkansas, and they helped the Razorbacks improve to 10-1 in their last 11 one-possession games.
“We were fortunate right there when they had two tips at the ball,” Arkansas coach Mike Anderson said. “I don’t know if there’s some Angel up there, but it just kept that ball out and we were able to get the win.”
Lindy Waters scored 17 points to lead the Cowboys, who fell to 3-2 in the Big 12/Southeastern Conference Challenge. Brandon Averette and Solomon added 10 points each in the loss, and Oklahoma State hit just 5 of 22 shots (22.7 percent) in the second half after shooting 50 percent (15 of 30) in the first.
“We put ourselves in position to win the game,” Oklahoma State coach Mike Boynton said. “We just didn’t finish the right way.”
The Cowboys had one final chance at the win after Trey Thompson missed a free throw for Arkansas with 2.6 seconds remaining. Waters missed on a desperation heave from over half court as time expired, however, and Arkansas earned its first win over the Cowboys since 1971.
“We got a lot of good looks,” Averette said. “They just didn’t fall for us.”
Oklahoma State: The Cowboys entered the game having won 10 of their last 11 games against Arkansas dating back to 1966. They appeared on their way to making it 11 of 12 on Saturday, but Arkansas used a 12-0 second-half run to take its first lead and then hold on in the closing seconds.
Arkansas: The Razorbacks were blown out 99-71 at Oklahoma State a year ago, a game in which they trailed 59-33 at halftime. Things didn’t appear to be going much better early on Saturday for Arkansas, which fell behind 9-0 to start the game and was down 24-11 after a putback by the Cowboys’ Trey Reeves. However, Macon scored eight of the Razorbacks next 10 points to pull them back into the game — and eventually to the win.
Oklahoma State hosts TCU on Tuesday.
The Razorbacks are at Texas A&M on Tuesday night.
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