You can go home again.
Daryl Macon proved it. Coming home as an Arkansas Razorback for the last basketball time to the Little Rock and North Little Rock vicinity where he starred for Little Rock Parkview High School, senior Razorbacks guard Macon scored a game-high 25 points in Arkansas’ 88-63 trouncing of the Troy University Trojans last Saturday night at Verizon Arena in North Little Rock.
For his efforts, on Monday he was named Player of the Week by the Southeastern Conference.
When the otherwise Fayetteville home-based Razorbacks next play in North Little Rock next season, Macon presumably will be playing professionally whether in the NBA or overseas.
Macon made his hometown finale a fond farewell not only scoring 25 points but the way he scored them. Strafing the Trojans’ zone, he hit 5 of 9 3-pointers on an 8 for 14 shooting night from the field and adding 4 of 4 from the line. His game wasn’t consumed just in scoring. Macon also dished five assists, grabbed three rebounds and made three steals.
He couldn’t have fathomed a better homecoming before more family and friends than he could remember.
“I really don’t know,” Macon replied to Chuck Barrett’s postgame radio question regarding the family and friends he assumed were in attendance. “I think it was about 30 to 40.”
To play well meant a lot but not the most for his victorious hometown farewell.
“It wasn’t just about going out there and playing well tonight,” Macon said. “I wanted to go out there and give it my all. It’s my last time ever playing in this arena in front of my hometown in front of my family. It was big.”
The sellout crowd jamming Verizon to see the now 8-2 Razorbacks trash Troy the week after a packed Walton Arena in Fayetteville saw the Razorbacks rout the then 14th-ranked Minnesota Golden Gophers made it even bigger.
“It was a great environment tonight,” Macon said. “I loved it. It’s my last time playing in my hometown, man. I’m going to miss it. We just wanted to go out with a bang.”
It seemed his teammates realized whose trigger finger was ready to shoot against Troy in the Rock even with his first shot a misfire.
“ I just had to trust my shot and had to get it back going,” Macon said. “A big shoutout tonight to my teammates for finding me. I wouldn’t have had the night I had tonight without them A big shoutout to those guys.”
The opponent helped. For led by shooting guard Wesley Person Jr. and his 25 points tying Macon for game high, Coach Phil Cunningham’s Trojans opted to run with Coach Mike Anderson’s Razorbacks.
“It was very fun,” Macon said. “This is our style of play up and down. I don’t think anyone in the country wants to go up and down with us when we are at our best.”
Macon was at his best in all phases, Anderson said of his three steals and five assists against zero turnovers.
“Daryl had a big night coming home,’ Anderson said. “You really enjoy seeing that take place. The thing I really like about it is he did other things, too. He took care of the ball and he made some plays defensively.”
While Person, entering the game averaging 20.3 points, matched Macon’s 25, as a team, against Arkansas’ harassing defense, the Trojans shot only 30 percent, 18 of 59, compared to Arkansas’ 34 of 54 for 53 percent. Arkansas blistered a 18 of 29 first half fueled by a 17-2 run from which the Razorbacks never looked back
“It starts on the defensve end,” Macon said. “You get transition buckets, open shots and then the other team gets tired. Tonight we had to start it off our defense and then our offense came.”
So did Arkansas’ depth. Led by sophomore reserve forward Adrio Bailey’s 10 points, and a perfect eight points by senior forward and Forrest City High grad Trey Thompson off the bench, 3 for 3 from the field and 2 for 2 from the line, plus three rebounds, two shot blocks, an assist, two shot blocks and a steal in 14 minutes in his farewell to the Rock, Arkansas’ bench outscored Troy’s bench, 33-12.
Macon wasn’t the only Arkansas senior starting homecoming guard making his home finale a big one. Anton Beard, along with Thompson the only 4-year Razorbacks of Arkansas’ six seniors, scored 11 points while hitting 5 of 10 from the field while dishing two assists, grabbing two rebounds and making a steal.
“It was a nice win,” Beard said. “We came out with the mindset that we wanted to make sure the crowd had a good time at the game. We had a good amount of energy an we just wanted to keep that up for the fans.”