PORTLAND, Ore. - All the attention will be on the amount of points Arkansas dropped on Connecticut. It got out of hand because of how good the Razorbacks were on defense.
“I thought we had fun playing defense,” Arkansas coach Mike Anderson said. “And that’s what I stressed with our guys coming out early and setting a defensive tone.”
Jaylen Barford scored 16 of his 24 points in the first half, and Arkansas used a huge second-half run to rout Connecticut 102-67 on Sunday in the consolation bracket of the PK80 Invitational.
The Razorbacks (5-1) rebounded nicely from being overwhelmed by North Carolina in the semifinals on Friday. Arkansas led 45-31 at halftime and blew away the Huskies in the second half thanks to a 19-0 run that gave the Razorbacks a 72-41 lead. The Razorbacks topped 100 points for the second time this season after scoring 101 in a win over Bucknell.
So while they had fun with all the points being scored, it was predicated by an excellent defensive effort.
“It’s amazing how you do that (on defense) what takes place on offense,” Anderson said. “If your defense is really solid and good and you’re making shots, a lot of good things take place.”
Barford was a spectator for a big chunk of the second half. His 24 points came in just 28 minutes. He was 9 of 12 shooting, including 4 of 5 on 3-pointers. He was the leader of a tremendous shooting performance by the Razorbacks, hitting 60 percent for the game and 65 percent in the second half. Arkansas was 11 of 19 on 3-pointers.
Daryl Macon added 16 points after leaving Friday’s game against North Carolina early due to an ankle injury, and C.J. Jones had 19 points.
Jalen Adams added 16 for the Huskies (4-2), but very little went UConn’s way two days after watching Michigan State run away in the second half for a 77-57 victory. Terry Larrier added 18 points, but left late in the second half with an apparent right leg injury after landing awkwardly. Larrier limped off with 5:45 left.
It was the most lopsided loss for the Huskies since a 40-point loss to Syracuse early in the 1977 season.
“At the end of the day you’ve got to get stops. You don’t get stops, you don’t get in transition, everything gets difficult for us,” UConn coach Kevin Ollie said. “If you look at the game, if you break down tape, we got plenty of shots in the first half that we can make.”
While Arkansas played well for most of the first half, the Razorbacks were dominant the final 20 minutes. After cutting the Arkansas lead to 12 with 15 minutes remaining, the Huskies missed eight straight shots and watched the Razorbacks turn the game into a laugher. Arkansas made 10 straight shots at one point of the second half, the streak finally snapping when Jones’ 3-point attempt from the wing rimmed out with four minutes remaining.
The Huskies must be more consistent with their 3-point shooting. UConn was 7 of 26 from deep - 26.9 percent. The Huskies started the day shooting just 29.5 percent on 3s this season, including a 0-for-10 performance in the second half against Oregon in the tournament opener.
It’s not often that UConn gets blown out that badly. The last time the Huskies lost by more than 30 points was 2014 when they were handed an 81-48 setback by Louisville.
The Huskies return home to play Columbia on Wednesday.