Razorbacks Drop One Late to WKU

FAYETTEVILLE – Arkansas had two chances within the final 19 seconds to win the game but came up short as Western Kentucky held on for a 78-77 victory over the Razorbacks Saturday afternoon at Bud Walton Arena.

The Razorbacks only led once, 77-76, inside the final 15:37 of the second half when Daniel Gafford made a jumper with 45 seconds left in the contest. The Hilltoppers regained the lead after Marek Nelson converted a layup with 19 ticks left. WKU center Charles Bassey blocked both of the Razorbacks’ final attempts to preserve the win.

Bassey finished with 21 points and nine rebounds to lead the Hilltoppers. Jared Savage scored 20 points while Taveion Hollingsworth had 17.

Isaiah Joe led the Razorbacks with 19 points while Gafford had 19 points and nine rebounds.  Mason Jones added 15 points and Jalen Harris had 13. Harris, who ranked third in the NCAA in assist-to-turnover ratio entering the game, finished with seven helpers versus zero turnovers in 37 minutes of action.

Arkansas will make its annual trip to Little Rock to face UT San Antonio on Saturday (Dec. 15). Tip-off at North Little Rock’s Verizon Arena is set for 7 pm.

FIRST HALF: Arkansas 41 – Western Kentucky 33

  • Arkansas started the game with a 13-4 run, thanks to a pair of Isaiah Joe 3-pointers and took a 17-8 lead into the first media timeout. Jalen Harris was 3-for-3 from the field and Daniel Gafford was 2-for-2 in the opening five-and-a-half minutes.
  • Western Kentucky tied the game, 22-22, at 7:36. Isaiah Joe answered with a 3-pointer as part of an 11-4 run and the Razorbacks led 33-26 at the final media timeout. During the run, Mason Jones had a pair of layups, Daniel Gafford made a turnaround jumper and he made a steal off an inbounds pass that led to a Reggie Chaney layup.
  • Isaiah Joe was Razorbacks’ the leading scorer at the break with 16.

SECOND HALF: Arkansas had a shot two shots to win it inside the final 19 seconds.

  • The Hilltoppers took their first lead, 48-46, at 16:06 in the second half and kept the lead over the next eight minutes.
  • Desi Sills scored six points over a two-minute span and tied the game, 62-62, at the 8:35 mark. Sills was 4-for-4 in the second half and tied the game once again with a free throw with 4:32 left to make the score 70-70.

GAME NOTES:

  • Arkansas starters for the eighth straight game were Isaiah Joe (G) – Jalen Harris (G) – Mason Jones (G) – Adrio Bailey (F) – Daniel Gafford (F).
  • Arkansas controlled the tip and Jalen Harris hit a streaking Daniel Gafford for the first points, five seconds into the game.
  • This was the seventh meeting between Arkansas and Western Kentucky, but first since Dec. 7, 1974. The Razorbacks lead the series 4-3 but are 0-2 versus the Hilltoppers in Fayetteville.
  • Arkansas had three streaks come to an end with the loss Saturday. The Razorbacks had won six straight, had won 28 straight non-conference home games (was the best streak in the SEC by nine games) and had won 46 consecutive games when leading at halftime. During the Mike Anderson era, Arkansas is still an impressive 131-8 when leading at the break.
  • Jalen Harris, who entered the game third in the NCAA in assist-to-turnover ratio, had seven assists and zero turnovers versus Western Kentucky. Over the last five games, Harris has dished out 46 assists with just five turnovers. He also entered the game sixth in the NCAA in assists per game with 7.3.
  • As a team, Arkansas ranked fourth in the NCAA in assists per game (20.1) entering the game, but only managed 10 versus the Hilltoppers – seven by Jalen Harris.
  • Four Razorbacks (Daniel Gafford, Isaiah Joe, Jalen Harris and Mason Jones) each scored in double figures. Gafford and Joe are the only Razorbacks to score in double figures in all eight games this season.
 
BY Taylor McGillis