Barford’s career best leads Arkansas to second straight rout
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — Jaylen Barford’s emergence late last season was one of the primary factors behind Arkansas’ late run that landed it in the NCAA Tournament for a second time in three years.
At this rate, the Razorbacks won’t need to wait for a late push this season to let the entire country know they plan on making it three postseason trips out of four years.
Led by Barford’s career-best 27 points, Arkansas (2-0) dominated for a second straight game in a 101-73 win over Bucknell on Sunday. Barford hit 9 of his first 10 shots and finished 10 of 15 from the field, topping his previous best of 23 points against South Carolina last season.
All in all, it was exactly the kind of game — and progress — that Barford had hoped for when deciding to return for his senior year during the offseason.
“I feel real comfortable,” Barford said. ”... We’re just trying to show everybody what we’re about, and we haven’t reached our full peak yet, I don’t think.”
As good as Barford was on Sunday, his backcourt partner Daryl Macon shined for a second straight game as well — besting his 16-point effort in a season-opening 95-56 win over Samford with 21 points. Macon hit 3 of 6 3-pointers for Arkansas, while freshman Daniel Gafford scored 15 points in 16 minutes and Anton Beard added 11.
The Razorbacks shot 53.5 percent (38 of 71) overall, their second straight game topping the 50-percent mark while leading by as many as 22 points in the first half on the way to the comfortable victory.
“It’s early on, I caution that,” Arkansas coach Mike Anderson said. ”... When you make shots, and we’ve been making some shots, it energizes your defense. What happens when you don’t make those shots, that’s what I want to see.”
Zach Thomas led the Bison (0-2) with 24 points and 10 rebounds, and Nana Foulland had 17 points. Stephen Brown added 13 points and 9 assists for Bucknell, which had 18 turnovers that led to 29 points by Arkansas.
The Bison led 8-7 in the early going before the Razorbacks went on a 17-2 run that put to rest any thoughts of the upset.
“Coming in, we thought that Arkansas and coach Anderson had a very good team,” Bucknell coach Nathan Davis said. “I think they showed that they do.”
Bucknell: The Bison remained winless through two games despite returning 93 percent of its offense from last year’s 26-9 team that narrowly lost in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament to West Virginia. Thomas followed up his 30-point, 16-rebound effort in an opening loss to Monmouth with another solid outing, but the preseason Patriot League favorite had few answers for an experienced Arkansas team intent on reaching the NCAA Tournament for a third time in four seasons.
Arkansas: There is little positive to be said through two games about the rolling Razorbacks, who followed up their 57.1 percent shooting in the season-opening win by once again running an opponent off the court. Arkansas didn’t come close to matching its 28 overall assists in the opener on Sunday, but it is now shooting 55.2 percent (74 of 134) as a team for the season — with Barford and Macon leading the way.
Gafford was limited to 17 minutes while fouling out in the season opener. The 6-foot-11 freshman only lasted 16 minutes on Sunday before once again fouling out, but he made the most of his time — finishing 5 of 7 from the field on his way to 15 points.
Bucknell continues its early stretch again Power 5 Conference competition when it travels to No. 9 North Carolina on Wednesday.
The Razorbacks stay home to face Fresno State on Friday.
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