STARKVILLE – The Arkansas men’s basketball team (11-3, 1-1) fell in its conference road opener Tuesday night 78-75 to the Mississippi State Bulldogs (13-1, 1-0).
Arkansas took advantage of Mississippi State’s slow start, jumping out on the Bulldogs 7-1, after State missed its first six shots of the game. The Bulldogs would go on an 8-2 run of their own to tie it at nine, before freshman Daniel Gafford slammed home his third dunk of the game with 13:31 left in the first half. Gafford had eight of Arkansas’ first 11 points.
Arkansas and Mississippi State would go back and forth all half, as the Razorbacks would lead by as many as six, while the Bulldogs would take their largest lead of the half with them to the locker room, up four at 32-28. Arkansas got in foul trouble early, recording 11 first-half fouls to just five by the Bulldogs.
Arkansas shot just four free throws before the break, while Mississippi State had 16 attempts.
Neither team shot the ball very well from the floor, as Arkansas went 12-of-31 (.387), missing five straight to close the half, allowing State to take the lead before the break. Mississippi State shot 11-of-31 (.355) from the floor in the opening frame.
Hogs came out of the locker room firing. Senior guard Daryl Macon scored five straight to give Arkansas back the lead, before fellow senior guard nailed a three-pointer to stretch the Razorbacks’ lead to four.
Much like the first half, Mississippi State would never let Arkansas build a comfortable lead. The largest lead Arkansas would gain was eight, before State would eventually tie the game. The game included nine ties and 11 lead changes.
Arkansas would lead by four with a little over two minutes left in the game, then Weatherspoon brothers each dropped a three-pointer to give State the late lead that it would hold on to.
One of the biggest keys was free throws. State went 24-for-40 from the charity stripe, while Arkansas reached the line just 12 times, making five. Arkansas committed 26 team fouls to the Bulldogs’ 11.
Macon would record his fifth 20-point effort of the season, leading the Hogs with 24 points on 9-of-12 shooting, including going 5-of-7 from deep. Gafford would finish with 17 points, going 8-of-11 from the field with five dunks and five rebounds.
Despite scoring just 11 points, Jaylen Barford recorded team highs in rebounds with seven and assists with five.
The Razorbacks continue their two-game road trip, as Arkansas travels to Auburn on Saturday for a 5 p.m. tip on ESPNU against the Tigers.