WALLY HALL: Macon, Thompson save bacon for Hogs

Posted: January 25, 2018 at 4:30 a.m.

It was looking like another typical Southeastern Conference basketball game.

The visitor has more field goals, more three-pointers but loses because the home team shot so many more free throws.

Was it just the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville-Georgia game or does the SEC Network never show replays of fouls? Is that some sort of policy -- official or otherwise -- so bad calls are not questioned by the fans there or at home?

In the end, Arkansas had five more field goals, two more three-pointers than Georgia, and despite the Bulldogs making 20 of 26 free throws to 11 of 14, it wasn't a typical SEC game, not in any way or fashion.

Before getting into the amazing two overtime periods when Daryl Macon looked like a unanimous first-team All-SEC player, let's be candid.

If the senior from Little Rock hadn't stepped up and made four of six shots, all three-pointers, and senior Trey Thompson, from Forrest City, hadn't made the defensive play of his career, the Razorbacks would have lost.

Partly because of the free-throw disparity, but sometimes the Hogs are hoggish. They dribble too much, won't take a charge and shoot (and miss) after just one or two passes.

They did all of that Tuesday night, but they overcame much of it They played hard-nosed defense and they did it on the road, which might have accounted for one or two of the calls that went against them, but certainly not all. And yes, Arkansas has shot more free throws at home than opponents.

Against Georgia, what kept the Razorbacks in the game and helped them rally back from an early 16-point deficit was their defense. They had 8 steals, forced another 9 turnovers and cashed those in for 23 points. Georgia had 16 points off turnovers, and the Razorbacks usually win when they win that statistic.

Georgia had taken a 61-58 lead with 2:42 to play in regulation. With 1:54 remaining Macon hit his first three-pointer of the night to tie it, and they took a 63-61 lead with 28 seconds left on a jumper by Anton Beard.

Teams that live off jumpers need to make them, especially in critical times.

In the first overtime Macon scored five of the Razorbacks' six points, but he was just warming up for the final verse of the game.

In the second overtime he didn't just make 3 three-pointers: they were all from around 25 feet and that deep into the game it took all his strength and quick kick of his legs to get the range, but all three were nothing but net.

At the start of the final overtime both teams were hitting a wall -- hard.

Jaylen Barford would end up logging 42 minutes, and with him devoting what energy he had left to defense, it turned out to be a brilliant move by Mike Anderson to continue to bring Macon in off the bench.

Macon scored 16 of his team-high 25 points in overtime. They gave the Hogs a road win and two SEC wins in a row.

Every win is critical now for consideration to getting into the NCAA Tournament, and that is where the Razorbacks' season should end every year now that Anderson has gotten the ship back on course.

And the Razorback football team should be in a bowl somewhere every year, too, although Chad Morris might need a decent honeymoon period before that happens.

In the end, Macon's offense got the Hogs over the hump and a blocked shot by Thompson with just two seconds left in the second overtime kept the Bulldogs from regaining the lead and probably winning.

It was a game controlled by the Razorbacks, not the refs.

Sports on 01/25/2018