Per­sonal prob­lem

Gaf­ford, Hogs strug­gle when in foul trou­ble

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - SPORTS - BOB HOLT

FAYET­TEVILLE — When the Uni­ver­sity of Arkansas basketball team played Mis­souri the first time this sea­son, Daniel Gaf­ford didn’t draw a foul while play­ing 35 min­utes.

It’s the sec­ond time in 58 games for the Ra­zor­backs in which Gaf­ford — a 6-11 sopho­more from El Do­rado — hasn’t been called for a foul. He also didn’t have a foul in 29 min­utes ear­lier this sea­son when the Ra­zor­backs beat Texas-San An­to­nio 7967 in North Lit­tle Rock.

With­out any foul prob­lems to worry about against Mis­souri, Gaf­ford helped Arkansas beat the Tigers 72-60 on Jan. 23 in Wal­ton Arena with 13 points, 10 re­bounds and 2 steals while hit­ting 6 of 9 shots.

Arkansas (14-9, 5-5 SEC) plays Mis­souri (11-11, 2-8) again at 8 tonight in Miz­zou Arena with Gaf­ford com­ing off his low­est-scor­ing game of the sea­son in the Ra­zor­backs’ 77-65 loss at South Carolina last Satur­day.

Gaf­ford drew his sec­ond foul with 15:23 left in the first half and went to the bench. He didn’t play the rest of the half and fin­ished the game with 8 points in 22 min­utes while hit­ting 4 of 5 shots and miss­ing his only free throw at­tempt. His five re­bounds matched his sec­ond-low­est to­tal this sea­son.

“I didn’t think he played his best,” Ra­zor­backs Coach Mike An­der­son said. An­der­son said. “I didn’t think he matched their phys­i­cal­ity.

“I thought when the phys­i­cal­ity took place he got those fouls, and I think maybe it just kind of went from there.

“You could see his rhythm wasn’t there. So we ex­pect a bet­ter per­for­mance from Daniel.”

When An­der­son took out Gaf­ford af­ter his sec­ond foul, the two had a ver­bal ex­change that was caught by tele­vi­sion cam­eras.

“There were no [heated] words,” An­der­son said. “Prob­a­bly more frus­tra­tion than any­thing else with Daniel.”

Fouls have been an is­sue for Gaf­ford since the first Mis­souri game. He has drawn at least three fouls in four of the last five games and fouled out at LSU with Arkansas go­ing 3-2 in that stretch.

The Ra­zor­backs won 9089 at LSU when sopho­more guard Ma­son Jones drove for a bas­ket with 22 sec­onds left and Gaf­ford on the bench.

“I think he’s got to fig­ure that out,” An­der­son said of Gaf­ford foul­ing less. “Ob­vi­ously, it was a prob­lem last year, and he’s been re­ally good about it this year.”

Gaf­ford drew two or fewer fouls in 11 of the Ra­zor­backs’ first 17 games.

“I think it has a lot to do with po­si­tion,” An­der­son said. “Get­ting in the right spot. Just move your feet.”

An­der­son said Gaf­ford, who has a 7-4 wing­span, has done a good job much of the sea­son of us­ing his length on de­fense.

“But some­times you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time,” An­der­son said. “When you get to con­fer­ence play, ob­vi­ously peo­ple are com­ing at him of­fen­sively and de­fen­sively, and he’s got to fig­ure that out on the floor in terms of gaug­ing when to and when not to go and block a shot or just play po­si­tion de­fense.”

Gaf­ford is one of five play­ers na­tion­ally who is av­er­ag­ing more than 15.0 points and 8.0 re­bounds and shoot­ing bet­ter than 60 per­cent from the field, ac­cord­ing to Arkansas’ me­dia re­la­tions staff.

An­other of the five is Duke fresh­man Zion Wil­liamson, the pro­jected first over­all pick in the NBA Draft who is av­er­ag­ing 21.8 points, 9.2 re­bounds and shoot­ing 68.4 per­cent.

Gaf­ford is av­er­ag­ing 16.5 points, 8.7 re­bounds and shoot­ing 67.0 per­cent.

“I think he’s hav­ing a great sea­son,” An­der­son said. “Just think about where he was last year to where he is right now.”

Gaf­ford — who av­er­aged 11.8 points and 6.2 re­bounds as a fresh­man on an NCAA Tour­na­ment team led by se­nior guards Daryl Macon and Jaylen Bar­ford — is the only re­turn­ing starter for the Ra­zor­backs this sea­son.

“He’s on the top of ev­ery­body’s scout­ing re­port,” An­der­son said. “When you look at what’s re­turn­ing with this basketball team, he’s the fo­cal point.

“Now we’ve added some peo­ple around him. And guess what? Be­cause he’s a fo­cal point, those guys are the ben­e­fi­ciary.”

Arkansas fresh­man guard Isa­iah Joe leads the SEC with 82 three-point bas­kets and is av­er­ag­ing 14.1 points.

Sopho­more point guard Jalen Harris, a trans­fer from New Mex­ico, is av­er­ag­ing 5.8 as­sists. Sopho­more guard Ma­son Jones is av­er­ag­ing 13.8 points af­ter trans­fer­ring from ju­nior col­lege.

“Those guys are the re­cip­i­ents of Daniel draw­ing a lot of at­ten­tion,” An­der­son said. “So if you look at what he’s done, his pro­duc­tion has gone up from last year.”

Spurs and Feath­ers/ALLEN SHARPE

Arkansas for­ward Daniel Gaf­ford tries to get around South Carolina’s Felipe Haase (13) and Chris Silva (30) on Satur­day in Columbia, S.C. Gaf­ford has drawn at least three fouls in four of the past five games.

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