Behind blocks, turnovers and protecting the paint, the defense of Arkansas (12-8, 3-4) proved to be the critical X-factor in the Hogs’ 70-60 win over the Georgia Bulldogs (10-10, 1-6) at Bud Walton Arena on Tuesday.
Last week against Texas in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge matchup, the Bulldogs won 98-88 and the critical stat is shooting 66 percent of field goals. Tonight, Georgia went 19-for-65 shots, giving Georgia 38 of its 70. Senior guard William Jackson II led four-for-11 in two-pointers.
The Razorbacks, led by freshman Reggie Chaney’s career-high five blocks, created disturbances within the Bulldog offense to keep it to a low 29 percent shooting. Sophomore forward Daniel Gafford contributed with four blocks and sophomore guard Mason Jones had two.
Arkansas’ 14 blocks was the most blocks in a conference game for the Hogs since joining in 1991
Chaney went three-for-seven shooting and tied Jones with six rebounds.
“I feel like a pretty quick player,” Chaney said. “I like playing hard and going after the ball. It’s something I always did. I just like it.”
Besides blocks, another key to messing up the tempo: turnovers.
Georgia’s 16 turnovers ties the team’s turnovers per game this season and Arkansas added insult to injury by scoring 16 points off those turnovers. In comparison, the Razorbacks only turned it over four times and gave the Bulldogs seven points.
For Jones, he wasn’t keeping count of the stats. When you’re executing the plan properly, you have the upper hand, he said.
“I didn’t even know that to be honest,” Jones said. “I was in the moment of the game. I just seen people’s shots keep being blocked and I was like ‘Keep doing what you’re doing.’”
Even though Arkansas played better defense in most categories, Georgia did perform better in rebounds. Entering with about 40 rebounds a game, the No. 12 team in the country by that stat, shattered it with 56 total: 33 defensive and 23 offensive. Two Bulldogs had double digits: senior forward E’Torrion Wilridge with 10 and sophomore forward Rayshau Hammonds with 13.
Arkansas junior forward Adrio Bailey started to show signs of life following a decline in stats after scoring eight points and two rebounds before sitting out following his fourth personal foul. In addition to Chaney, the bench of freshmen Desi Sills and Gabe Osabuohien contributed 12 points.
“I’ve been saying our defense is getting better,” said Arkansas coach Mike Anderson. “I thought our guys were pretty active and took charges and defended the rim. They stayed together and that’s all they talked about.”
The Razorbacks travel to Baton Rouge for the second matchup with rival Louisiana State University. Tip-off is scheduled for 5 p.m. and will broadcast on the SEC Network.