The Razorbacks came one point short of earning buy-one-get-one free box combos from Raising Cane’s on Tuesday night but managed to come away with a win against SEC-opponent Vanderbilt in a tight contest.
Vanderbilt (9-13 0-9) might not have posed a threat for the Hogs on paper, but the Commodores did push the No. 1-ranked Tennessee Volunteers to overtime in January and came to Fayetteville with their first conference win in mind.
While Vanderbilt searched for its first SEC win, Arkansas looked to build on a road upset against LSU last week. It was Arkansas’ top-two scorers on the season that took over Tuesday night.
Early in the second half, freshman guard Isaiah Joe and sophomore forward Daniel Gafford had combined for 40 points. Vanderbilt had 41 as a team.
Although both teams held a 10-point lead at one point, neither team was able to pull away. With 14 seconds to go, freshman guard Keyshawn Embery-Simpson hit a clutch 3-pointer to give Arkansas a one-point lead, and following a Vandy turnover, sophomore guard Mason Jones hit both of his free throws to extend the lead to three with seven seconds left.
Vanderbilt had one shot at tying the game at the horn, but the last-chance heave was no good, and Arkansas escaped Bud Walton Arena with a 69-66 victory.
Gafford was dominant all night long, shooting 9-14 from the field and 83 percent from his 12 chances at the free throw line, as well as coming one rebound short of his 13th double-double of his career. He finished with 28 points on the night.
Joe finished the first half by making four straight three-pointers to give the Hogs a boost heading into the locker room and continued to shoot well all game. The first-year sharpshooter went 6-10 from three-point range and finished with 18 points on the night.
Vanderbilt’s offensive attack was much more spread out. Freshman forward Simisola Shittu, a projected lottery pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, according to NBA Draft Room, was a highlight for the away squad. He scored 12 points and grabbed a team-high eight boards in the loss for the Commodores.
The win was the fourth straight in conference play for the Hogs, as they improve to 5-4 in the SEC. Next up for the Hogs is a road matchup at 2:30 Saturday against the South Carolina Gamecocks in Columbia. The game will be broadcast on the SEC Network.