FAYETTEVILLE -- Daryl Macon calmly made two free throws with 10 seconds left against South Carolina on Tuesday.
It's nothing new for Macon, who has converted 56 of 60 from the line in the final minute or overtime periods of games during his two seasons with the Arkansas Razorbacks, including 26 of 26 this season.
For a change, the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville didn't need Macon's free throws to clinch a victory. The Razorbacks already had put the Gamecocks away by the time Macon was fouled after making a steal.
Macon's free throws simply capped the Razorbacks' 81-65 victory in Walton Arena.
The 16-point final margin not only was the largest for Arkansas (16-8, 5-6 SEC) in conference play but it also exceeded the Razorbacks' combined margin in their previous five victories.
Arkansas beat Tennessee, Missouri, Ole Miss, Georgia and Oklahoma State by a combined 12 points.
Macon, a senior guard, was 12 of 12 on free throws in the clutch in three of those games, going 4 of 4 in the final 22.6 seconds in overtime of a 95-93 victory against Tennessee; 6 of 6 in the final 36.1 seconds of a 97-93 victory over Ole Miss; and 2 of 2 with 1.2 seconds left in double overtime of an 80-77 victory at Georgia.
The Razorbacks hadn't won by 16 points or more since beating California State University, Bakersfield 95-68 on Dec. 27.
"It was good to see us play throughout the whole game," Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson said. "That's the biggest key there.
"I thought our guys were really locked in and played defense and had fun with it."
The Razorbacks -- who got 25 points from Macon and 24 from senior guard Jaylen Barford -- led for 34:36 of the game, including the final 29:11 after Barford's three-point basket put them ahead 26-23.
"When we play like that, we can lead no matter who we're playing," Macon said. "We got back to our old ways, which is defense first, offense second.
"We were scrappy. It was hard for them to run their offense. That's just something we have to do every night."
Arkansas had 13 turnovers compared with 18 for South Carolina, and the Razorbacks outscored the Gamecocks 26-11 in points off of turnovers.
The Razorbacks had 45 deflections and 8 steals, including 3 by Macon and 2 by Barford.
"We just brought our practice to the game finally," Barford said. "Brought a lot of energy, a lot of defensive stops. We did a good job containing them and keeping them out of the paint and getting rebounds and running out of them."
Arkansas held South Carolina (13-11, 4-7) to 41.2 percent shooting (21 of 51), but the Gamecocks came into the game shooting 39.9 on the season, including 36.2 in SEC play.
"You want to get confidence in your defense, play us," South Carolina Coach Frank Martin said. "That'll help ya."
Martin also credited the Razorbacks -- who forced more turnovers than any of South Carolina's previous SEC opponents -- for playing well defensively.
"Hey, it's how they play," Martin said. "They're aggressive. They're relentless. They make you make plays from different [positions]. You can't beat Arkansas with just a point guard. They make all five guys on your team make decisions with the ball.
"We haven't played a team that plays like that. And we didn't handle it very well."
Arkansas' defense got a jolt of energy from freshman forward Gabe Osabuohien, who played a season-high 17 minutes off the bench. He had played just 52 minutes in nine games prior to Tuesday night.
Anderson was looking for a spark after LSU beat Arkansas 94-86 on Saturday, and Osabuohien provided it. He didn't attempt a shot but forced a five-second call, took two charges and had four rebounds.
"Gabe probably had the most impact on the game," Anderson said. "Just his energy shot throughout this whole team."
South Carolina 6-9 junior Chris Silva was averaging 14.7 points and 7.8 rebounds, but the Razorbacks did a good job of containing him with 6-11 freshman Daniel Gafford and 6-9 senior Trey Thompson.
Silva shot 1 of 5 from the floor and was held to eight points. He had four turnovers.
"We fought him for position," Anderson said. "The times he got position, man, you could see he can really score.
"I think there was one time in the first half we just kind of walled up with him. But they look for him quite a bit, so we sent a lot of people in there."
Gafford finished with 11 points, 6 rebounds and 3 blocked shots, and Thompson had 6 points, 6 rebounds and 3 blocked shots.
"That's pretty good productivity," Anderson said.
Arkansas has as many SEC losses as it did all of last season when it finished 12-6 in conference play, but Martin took up for the Razorbacks.
"Arkansas is a real good team," Martin said. "Nothing aggravates me more than the [media] people within our own conference, because our teams lose a couple of games in our league, all of a sudden those teams, they're 'struggling.'
"They're not struggling. This league is real good. Arkansas is a real good team. They've got real good players."
Arkansas senior forward Dustin Thomas for the second time this season didn't play in a game when he was dressed out.
"He was available," Anderson said. "Those other guys we went with were playing well."
Ten Razorbacks played five or more minutes.
"This team is ready to play some good basketball," Anderson said. "I love the other pieces that are starting to come together, and I thought I let them go out and play, and they produced."
ARKANSAS MEN VS. VANDERBILT
WHEN 7:30 p.m. Saturday WHERE Walton Arena, Fayetteville RECORDS Arkansas 16-8, 5-6 SEC; Vanderbilt 9-15, 3-8 SERIES Arkansas leads 23-12 TELEVISION SEC Network RADIO Razorback Sports Network
Sports on 02/08/2018
Print Headline: Arkansas relishes drama-free victory