Barford scores 18 to lead surging Arkansas past ORU 104-69
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — Jaylen Barford feels like there’s little doubt Arkansas has played like one of the best 25 teams in the country so far this season.
Actually, the senior guard thinks the Razorbacks are among the best, period.
Barford scored 18 points on 8-of-9 shooting on Tuesday night, and Arkansas (9-2) continued to state its case for a national ranking with a dominating 104-69 win over Oral Roberts.
The Razorbacks entered the game seventh in the country in the NCAA’s RPI ratings, and they have now won four games in a row. The win over the Golden Eagles (4-10) continued what’s been a season-long stretch of blowout victories, raising the Razorbacks average margin of victory in its wins this season to 24.5 points per game — adding to a resume that includes convincing victories over Oklahoma, UConn and Minnesota.
“I think we are (among the 25 best),” Barford said. “... I don’t see (anybody) else plays like we do, this fast paced and getting in lanes and just tenacious on defense. I think we are.”
Barford, the fourth-leading scorer in the Southeastern Conference at 18.6 points per game, was coming off his first single-digit scoring effort of the season in a win over Troy . The senior had nine points in the first half against ORU and added a career-best five steals — part of a season-high 27 turnovers forced by Arkansas.
“He played good basketball the other night; he just didn’t make shots,” Arkansas coach Mike Anderson said. “Tonight, he made shots. He played defense and he made shots. That’s what good players do.”
As good as Barford was, he had plenty of help from the rest of the Razorbacks. Six players finished in double figures for Arkansas, with C.J. Jones adding 15 points on five 3-pointers. Anton Beard and Daryl Macon scored 14 each, with Macon scoring all of his points in the second half, and Daniel Gafford had 12 and Darious Hall 11.
Emmanuel Nzekwesi led the Golden Eagles with 22 points and was 10 of 13 from the field. R.J. Fuqua added 19 points and hit four 3-pointers, while Chris Miller finished with 10 points.
Javan White followed his career-best 20-rebound performance earlier this month against Arkansas-Little Rock with 16 more boards against the Razorbacks, but it had little effect on the outcome for an ORU team that was ill-equipped to deal with Arkansas’ pressure.
“It became a situation where I think they smelled blood in the water, and they took advantage of the opportunity to create offense via the turnover,” first-year ORU coach Paul Mills said. “... They could have beat us by 90 tonight.”
Gafford entered shooting 69.2 percent from the field, including 22 dunks on the season. The athletic 6-foot-11 freshman added to his total against the Golden Eagles, throwing down four more dunks and shooting 5 of 7 from the field while also finishing with four assists and two blocks.
Oral Roberts: After losing nine of 10 games, the Golden Eagles came into Tuesday having won two in a row — over Missouri State and Florida Gulf Coast. They were no match for an Arkansas team that leads the SEC in scoring (88.1 points per game). After Miller made back-to-back baskets to pull Oral Roberts into an 8-8 tie early in the game, the Razorbacks closed the first half on a 44-15 run, led 52-23 at halftime and by as many as 40 early in the second half.
Arkansas: The Razorbacks entered the game having forced 19 turnovers in a game three times this season. They nearly topped that in the first half on Tuesday, forcing the Golden Eagles into 16 turnovers in the half and 27 for the game — scoring 42 points off the Oral Roberts’ miscues.
Oral Roberts is at Minnesota on Thursday night.
The Razorbacks return to action after a holiday break against Cal State Bakersfield on Dec. 27.