Second Half Run Propels Hogs Past Austin Peay
FAYETTEVILLE – Keyshawn Embery-Simpson tied his career high with 14 points – all in the second half – to help Arkansas rally past Austin Peay, 76-65, on Friday night at Bud Walton Arena in the final non-conference game of the season for both teams.
Embery-Simpson fueled a 20-5 Arkansas run that turned a 52-48 deficit into a 68-57 Razorback advantage. Embery-Simpson scored 12 during the run, including seven straight Arkansas points, and capped the rally with a 3-pointer with 4:12 left in the game. Embery-Simpson finished with all 14 of his points in the second half (nine minutes of playing time).
The Razorbacks (9-3) battled through foul trouble and a scrappy Austin Peay (8-5) team that outrebounded Arkansas 42-34.
The Governors, who entered with a six-game winning streak, led 50-46 midway through the second half when Arkansas’ leading scorer, Daniel Gafford, landed awkwardly in the lane and hit the floor with a right leg injury. Gafford was helped to the bench and went to the locker room for a brief period before returning to the game. His dunk off a Reggie Chaney feed gave the Razorbacks the lead for good at 54-52 with 8:22 left in the game.
Gafford recorded his sixth double-double in 12 games this season as he scored 16 points and pulled down 10 rebounds while adding four blocked shots.
Jabari McGee helped the Governors rally to pull within six, 68-62, scoring five of his 10 points, but the Razorbacks locked down the win on Jalen Harris’ 3-pointer from the left wing, just his third 3-pointer of the season in 27 attempts, giving Arkansas a 71-62 lead with 1:48 left.
Arkansas led 34-33 at halftime as Isaiah Joe scored 12 of his 15 points including four 3-pointers. Joe, who sat out the final 4:34 of the first half after picking up two fouls in the span of 21 seconds, hit his first three 3-point attempts, then later drilled his fourth to give the Razorbacks a 26-23 lead with 7:08 left in the first half. Joe added a career-high five steals on the defensive end.
Austin Peay took a 29-28 lead on a pair of free throws by Terry Taylor and could have extended the lead further but missed the front end of three straight one-and-ones in the final minutes of the half.
The Governors took their last lead of the half on Chris Porter-Bunton’s 3-pointer from the top of the key that gave them a 33-32 lead.
Jordan Phillips gave Arkansas back the lead with a pair of free throws with 48 seconds left in the half.
Arkansas will return to action Jan. 5 as the Razorbacks will open Southeastern Conference play at Texas A&M. Tip-off in College Station is set for 5 pm and the game will be broadcast on the SEC Network. This is Arkansas’ 28th season in the SEC and the Razorbacks are 15-12 when opening league play.
FIRST HALF: Arkansas 34 – Austin Peay 33
- Isaiah Joe scored the first points of the game, a 3-pointer. He started the game making each of his first three from long range.
- However, the Governors were in control the first 13 minutes of the game until Isaiah Joe drained a 3-pointer from the right corner to give the Hogs a 26-23 lead at the 6:58 mark.
- The game stayed tight with Austin Peay taking a brief lead on a three pointer, but Jordan Phillips made a long jumper, sank two free throws and got a steal to help the Razorbacks lead, 34-33, at halftime.
- Isaiah Joe was the leading scorer at the break with 12 points. He was the only player to reach double figures in the first half.
SECOND HALF: Arkansas went on 20-5 run with Embery-Simpson scoring 12 in the run.
- Adrio Bailey had two dunks to start the second half for the Razorbacks, but the Governors scored seven straight to lead by three, 42-39, and maintained the advantage until a Daniel Gafford dunk put the Hogs up one, 43-42, at 15:51.
- Arkansas’ defensive effort picked up as the Razorbacks went on an 11-0 run to go up 59-52. Daniel Gafford started the run with two free throws, Keyshawn Embery-Simpson made a layup and Gafford slammed home a basket off a Reggie Chaney assist to put the Razorbacks up 54-52 with 8:20 left. Embery-Simpson capped the run by making a lay-up and a 3-pointer.
- Overall, Arkansas went on a 20-5 run. Keyshawn Embery-Simpson scored seven straight and a total of 12 during the run to give Arkansas a 68-57 lead.
- The Razorbacks were just 15-of-24 from the free throw line for the game but were 5-of-6 at the charity stripe inside the final 1:30.
- Arkansas’ starters were Isaiah Joe (G) – Jalen Harris (G) – Mason Jones (G) – Adrio Bailey (F) – Daniel Gafford (F). This has been the starting lineup in 11 of Arkansas’ 12 games
- Arkansas controlled the tip. Isaiah Joe scored the first points of the game, a 3-pointers at 19:05.
- This was the fourth meeting between Arkansas and Austin Peay. The Razorbacks also won the previous three meetings.
- Jalen Harris, who entered the game third in the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio, finished with seven assists and just one turnover. Over the previous two games, Harris had just five assists with four turnovers.
- Keyshawn Embery-Simpson tied his career high with 14 points. He also had 14 points in a win at Colorado State. It was his second time to reach double figures in scoring.
- Isaiah Joe, who entered the game eighth in the NCAA in 3-pointers made per game (3.82), drained four treys and finished with a career-high five steals.
- Arkansas had 21 assists on 27 made baskets. It is the fourth time Arkansas has had at least 20 assists in a game and the sixth time at least 70 percent of the team’s made baskets came directly from an assist.
- Arkansas had a season-high 14 steals and it was the fourth time to record double-digits in steals.
- Arkansas only had 11 turnovers, but just four came in the second half. The 11 turnovers are the second-lowest total of the season by the Razorbacks, who a season-low seven versus both Colorado State and Western Kentucky in back-to-back games.
- Daniel Gafford recorded his sixth double-double of the season. He has nine for his career. He added four blocked shots and three steals.
- As Arkansas’ defensive intensity picked up, it helped fuel the #FASTEST40 style, including five second-half dunks – two by Adrio Bailey to start the half, two by Daniel Gafford and one by Reggie Chaney.
- Reggie Chaney scored a career-high 12 points.
- Isaiah Joe (15 points) and Daniel Gafford (16 points) are the only Razorbacks to score in double figures in all 12 games this season.
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