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Gafford scores 21 to lead Arkansas past UT-Arlington, 78-60

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) Daniel Gafford spent part of last season feeling his way around the college game and playing more of a support role on an Arkansas team that reached the NCAA Tournament.

The Arkansas forward has taken to this whole leading role thing quite nicely during his encore performance.

Gafford scored 21 points to lead the Razorbacks to their fourth straight victory with a 78-60 win over Texas-Arlington on Friday night.

The 6-foot-11 sophomore was a career-best 9 of 10 from the free throw line and helped Arkansas overcome a sluggish shooting start and stay undefeated in eight games against the Mavericks. Gafford has now scored 20 or more points in three games already this season after doing so only twice all of last season.

''I'm taking it as it goes,'' Gafford said. ''I've got to be one of the main scorers on the team, and so I've got to come out every night and let the game come to me (and) play the way I play.''

Jalen Harris and Adrio Bailey added 14 points each for Arkansas, and Isaiah Joe also finished in double figures with 10.

It was Gafford, however, who controlled the action throughout - doing so playing only 22 minutes and sitting out the final 9:26 after being called for his fourth foul.

The sophomore finished 6 of 10 from the field and has made 26 of his last 33 shots (78.8 percent) over his last three games. He also added to his lengthy above-the-rim highlight reel with a pair of alley-oop dunks late in the first half to help Arkansas overcome a 4-of-20 shooting start to open the game.

''(Gafford is) obviously a lottery pick and a huge factor,'' first-year Texas-Arlington coach Chris Ogden said.

Edric Dennis had 19 points to lead the Mavericks (3-3), who played Indiana close until late in a loss earlier this week. Brian Warren added 15 points as the Sun Belt Conference school fell to 1-14 all-time against current members of the Southeastern Conference.

Arkansas led for all but the opening point of the game, doing so despite the slow shooting start.

Even with Gafford on the bench for much of the second half, the Razorbacks pulled away and won comfortably despite shooting only 38 percent (21 of 55) from the field.

''I think we had a much better rhythm in the second half,'' Arkansas coach Mike Anderson said. ''The first half, it was kind of like they were still over at my house for Thanksgiving.''

BIG PICTURE

As goes Gafford, so go the youthful Razorbacks - an early season trend that continued on Friday night. The reigning SEC Player of the Week scored in double figures for the fifth time this season and is now shooting 72.6 percent (37 of 51) after deciding to return for his sophomore season. Gafford scored 12 of his points against the Mavericks in the first half while Arkansas was struggling to pull away, and he's proven to be the mainstay on a Razorbacks team that entered the season with only three scholarship returners from last season's NCAA Tournament squad.

DEFENSIVE HOGS

The Razorbacks forced a season-worst 19 turnovers by Texas-Arlington, and they held the Mavericks to a season-low 33 percent (18 of 55) shooting. Bailey had three steals and two blocks, and Gafford added a pair of steals to aid in the defensive effort.

UP NEXT

Texas-Arlington finishes off a three-game road trip by facing Tulsa on Nov. 27.

The Razorbacks play their fifth straight at home when they host Florida International on Dec. 1.

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Key Players
Min. Per Game
Pts. Per Game
Ast. Per Game
Reb. Per Game
Field Goal %
Three Point %
Free Throw %
  Defensive rebound by Ethan Henderson 0.0
  Edric Dennis missed jump shot 0.0
+ 2 Reggie Chaney made dunk, assist by Ethan Henderson 14.0
  Defensive rebound by Ethan Henderson 18.0
  Ayoub Nouhi missed 3-pt. jump shot 20.0
  Defensive rebound by Edric Dennis 27.0
  Jordan Phillips missed layup 29.0
  Offensive rebound by Arkansas 29.0
  Jonathan Holmes missed floating jump shot 31.0
  Defensive rebound by Arkansas 39.0
  Patrick Mwamba missed 3-pt. jump shot 41.0
Team Stats
Points 0 0
Field Goals 0-0 (0.0%) 0-0 (0.0%)
3-Pointers 0-0 (0.0%) 0-0 (0.0%)
Free Throws 0-0 (0.0%) 0-0 (0.0%)
Total Rebounds 0 0
Offensive 0 0
Defensive 0 0
Team 0 0
Assists 0 0
Steals 0 0
Blocks 0 0
Turnovers 0 0
Fouls 0 0
Technicals 0 0
12T
away team logo Texas-Arlington 3-3 263460
home team logo Arkansas 4-1 314778
Team Stats
away team logo Texas-Arlington 3-3 69.2 PPG 40.7 RPG 12.8 APG
home team logo Arkansas 4-1 75.7 PPG 37 RPG 16.1 APG
Key Players
0
B. Warren 15.4 PPG 2.6 RPG 3.6 APG 39.7 FG%
10
D. Gafford 16.9 PPG 8.7 RPG 0.7 APG 66.0 FG%
Top Scorers
PTS REB AST
PTS REB AST
0 FG% 0
0 3PT FG% 0
0 FT% 0
Starters
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
Starters
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
Bench
Bench PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
Starters
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
Starters
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
Bench
Bench PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB