The Razorbacks double-downed on Darious Hall last Tuesday night in Oxford, Miss. and they promised to reward him doubly upon their return to Fayetteville.
Even while shooting an abysmal 1 of 7 free throws, 6-foot-6 freshman Hall, a 6-6 reserve guard out of Little Rock Mills, posted his first University of Arkansas double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds instrumental in defeating the Ole Miss Rebels, 75-64 in Tuesday’s SEC road game in Oxford.
“Pats on the back and double-doubles for everything,” Hall told the postgame Razorbacks Radio Network audience postgame when asked how his teammates reacted. “They told me, ‘Let’s go to McDonald’s and order a double cheeseburger with Day-Day on the side.”
Hall said the points portion of his double-double became a go with the flow.
“I just played my game with a lot of intensity,” Hall said. “It started with defense and it worked on offense.”
His teammates noticed. By the second half they were looking for him to score like they customarily look to senior star guards Jaylen Barford and Daryl Macon. Barford and Macon, respectively, average 19.4 and 18.0 points in SEC games while Hall averages 6.0 but Tuesday Hall outscored them.
Barford scored 13 while Macon’s streak of scoring 20 or better stopped at seven games as he only scored four but did deal a game-high six assists.
Daniel Gafford, the 6-11 freshman scoring 19 points, and Hall led Arkansas’ offense.
“I’m very happy for them to get that,” Barford said. “They were hot so we were just keeping going to them.”
The Razorbacks only led, 53-52 with just over 7:30 to play when from the 3-point line they looked to Hall found by a pass from senior backup center and Forrest City High grad Trey Thompson. Hall hit the three at 7:34 followed at 7:11 by a three buried by Anton Beard, the senior point guard from North Little Rock. Suddenly the Hogs were up 59-52 and pulling away on yet another Hall trey on to an 18-1 run ignited by that Hall trey at 7:34.
“My teammates found me and I just told them, ‘Keep coming to me,” Hall said. “And they said, ‘Play my game and they would keep coming to me’ and that’s what they did.”
More importantly, Hall said, the Razorbacks turned it up defensively upon Ole Miss twice in the second half cutting its 11-point halftime deficit to one.
“We said we were going to get three stops in a row and that’s exactly what we did,” Hall said.
Now he intends working to amend what he didn’t do.
“It was a bad free throw game for me,” Hall said. “I’ll get in the gym and continue to work on it.”
Anderson would take Tuesday’s Hall ball even with the not cashed freebies but believes that will be remedied.
“He’ll get better at it,” Anderson said. “Trust me he’ll work on it. He’s all about the team winning.”
So is Beard, Anderson said, noting he proved it against Ole Miss scoring 13 points and directing traffic.
“I thought Anton Beard led this team,” Anderson said. “He made big-time shots for us, he made big plays for us. He looked like the little general out there in charge.”
Badly outplayed by the frontline of Texas A&M in the 80-66 SEC loss to the Aggies Jan. 30 in College Station, Texas, Daniel Gafford comes into Saturday’s 3 p.m. rematch with the Aggies at Walton Arena off big games in Arkansas’ three consecutive SEC successes. He posted 11 points, six rebounds and blocked three shots in the win at Walton over South Carolina and scored 16 with nine boards and seven blocked shots in the victory over Vanderbilt at Walton and his 19 points and six rebounds despite two early fouls against Ole Miss.
Had Ole Miss played anybody but Arkansas Tuesday night, it’s obvious that Anderson would have been pulling for Andy Kennedy, the 11 years Ole Miss coach who announced Monday he was resigning effective at the season’s end.
Opening his postgame press conference in Oxford, Anderson said, “To Andy Kennedy, a dear friend, it hurts my heart to see him step away. So I want to pay my respects to him. He’s a great coach, and more than that he’s a great person.”