For the second year in a row, the Arkansas Razorbacks will participate in the SEC Tournament Semifinals. They clinched a berth in this year’s semis with their 80-72 victory over the 3rd-seeded Florida Gators.
Arkansas had four players get into double figures en route to their big victory in the Quarterfinals. The lead man was Jaylen Barford, as Barford scored a game-high 27 points. Barford shot 9-for-17 from the field and 4-for-9 from the 3-point line. With his 5-for-6 mark from the free throw line, it’s fair to say he had his stroke going Friday night in St. Louis. Barford also added 10 rebounds to his line and also committed just two turnovers in 32 minutes.
Also of note was big man Daniel Gafford. The freshman star had 16 points, shot 8-for-11 from the field and also had a double-double like Barford with 12 boards. He committed only one turnover in 28 minutes and was extremely effective in nearly every facet. Daryl Macon and Anton Beard got into double figures as well with 13 and 10 points respectively.
Keith Stone led the way for the Gators in the losing effort with 22 points. Stone was effective from deep, going 4-for-5 from the 3-point arc. Chris Chiozza and KeVaughn Allen joined him in double figures, as Cheese and Allen scored 16 and 11 each. They collectively shot just a touch less effectively than their opponents, which proved to be the difference in this game.
It’s also fair to say that Florida had a plan and failed to execute. They took 32 3-pointers but only made 13 of them. A mark of 41 percent may look good on some nights, but it just wasn’t enough with how many attempts they took.
The victory, as mentioned, puts Arkansas in the Semifinals for the second year in a row. They, of course, made the finals last year before falling to the Kentucky Wildcats. They have a chance to get revenge on Kentucky if they both make it through to the Finals. To get there though, they will have to get past the Tennessee Volunteers. The two-seeded Vols and Razorbacks met only once during the regular season. It was all the way back on December 30, 2017. On that night, the Hogs got the better of the Vols, winning 95-93 in overtime. Whether or not that’s a sign of things to come is yet to be seen.
Still, this should be a terrific game, provided Tennessee plays better than they did in their win over the Mississippi State Bulldogs earlier Friday night. And it should remain an excellent showcase for the SEC, as this tournament has had some great basketball throughout.