- Associated Press - Friday, November 18, 2016

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) - Jaylen Barford was accustomed to pretty much scoring at will a season ago in junior college when he led the nation with an average of 26.2 points per game.

The junior guard is starting to look right at home in his first season at Arkansas, scoring a career-best 17 points in helping the Razorbacks (3-0) rally for a 71-67 win over Texas-Arlington on Friday night.

Barford added six rebounds, but it was his three second-half steals - two of which ended with dunks - that sparked a 20-2 run to open the second half by Arkansas. The 6-foot-3 guard averaged 9.5 points in his first two games for the Razorbacks, but Friday was nothing short of his coming-out party.

“I know my team needed me,” Barford said. “In the first two games, it probably looked like I was very bad, but I think I’m getting comfortable and acclimated to the team. I’m just having fun and playing free.”

Anton Beard added 12 points off the bench and Dusty Hannahs added 11 for Arkansas, which shot 50 percent (12 of 24) in the second half after a disappointing 9-of-29 effort (31 percent) in the first half.

Erick Neal had 15 points to lead the Mavericks (1-3), who have now lost three straight games after leading at halftime. Drew Charles also finished in double figures with 11 for Texas-Arlington, while Jalen Jones had 10.

The Mavericks committed 12 of their 18 turnovers in the second half, and they hit only 8 of 28 shots (28.6 percent) in the second half.

“They did a great job of creating some steals in the halfcourt,” Texas-Arlington coach Scott Cross said. “… They’re a good basketball team, and our guys hung with them for 40 minutes.”

After a pair of convincing wins to open the season, Arkansas appeared anything but convincing in the first half against the preseason pick to win the Sun Belt Conference.

The Mavericks, after back-to-back losses at Minnesota and Florida Gulf Coast, led the Razorbacks by as many as 17 points in the first half before settling for a 43-32 edge at halftime. Texas-Arlington hit 8 of its 15 3-point attempts in the half, with Charles connecting on all three of his shots from behind the arc.

Arkansas, meanwhile, hit just 5 of its first 21 shots and finished 9 of 29 (31 percent) in the half.

The Razorbacks used their fast second-half start to build a 52-45 lead midway through the second half, with Barford scoring three times after steals and Beard capping the run with back-to-back 3-pointers.

Arkansas led 69-67 in the final minute when Barford was fouled. The junior make both free throws to put the Razorbacks up 71-67, and they kept Texas-Arlington from scoring on the other end as time expired.

“I think eventually he will (be a leading man),” Arkansas coach Mike Anderson said about Barford. “I think you kind of saw him take command out on the floor … I think he’s a guy who can facilitate and make plays, whether it be for himself or for others.”

BIG PICTURE

On a night when Southeastern Conference preseason Player of the Year Moses Kingsley struggled with foul trouble and had only five points, Arkansas might have found the co-leading man it was looking for - on both ends of the court - in Barford. The 6-foot-3 guard averaged 26.2 points per game in junior college last season, but his defensive activity is what the Razorbacks desperately needed.

BEARD IS BACK

After missing the first semester last season and following his arrest on forgery charges and struggling when he returned, Beard appears to have regained the form that made him an All-SEC freshman performer two seasons ago. The junior finished with 12 points off the bench for the second time in three games, and he hit several shots with the shot clock winding down to help Arkansas rally for the win on Friday.

UP NEXT

After a three-game road trip, Texas-Arlington returns home to host St. Francis on Monday night.

The Razorbacks play their first road game of the season at Minnesota on Tuesday night.

___

More AP college basketball: https://collegebasketball.ap.org

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide