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Gafford-Harris-Joe trio goes off as the Red beat the White, 105-82, Friday night at BWA


FAYETTEVILLE -- by Kevin McPherson


If your biggest fear was that the 2018-19 Arkansas Razorbacks would be a one-man show, at least for one night multiple Hogs shared the spotlight with sophomore center Daniel Gafford, especially sophomore guard Jalen Harris and freshman guard Isaiah Joe who helped Gafford and the Red team to a 105-82 win over the White team Friday night at Bud Walton Arena.

Gafford (24 points and 12 rebounds) and Harris (16 points, 10 assists) each had double-doubles, and Joe went off for 31 points on 9-of-14 shooting from 3 (64.3%) to the delight of the announced 7,500 fans in attendance.

"You see flashes of what this team can become," head coach Mike Anderson said. "There's a lot of work ahead of us, but I think there's potential."

Anderson, who praised the fans that came out on "a rainy night" as well as the celebrity coaches (former Hogs Joe Kleine, Charles Balentine, Corey Beck, and Elmer Martin), said he wasn't as concerned about defensive play in an intra-squad game as he was the assist-to-turnover ratio.

The two teams combined for 37 assists and 34 turnovers. The Red team dominated the glass (47-32), and shot the ball better (50.6% compared to 46.4% for the White team).

After a slow start, Gafford got going around the basket at both ends of the floor, and ended up pleased with the inside-out, 2-man game that he and Harris were able to execute throughout the night, including several lobs for easy dunks.

"I think it's good," Gafford said of his chemistry with Harris. "If I run the floor, (Harris) tells me he's going to reward the big man."

Gafford, who was named preseason All SEC 1st Team on Wednesday and was 1 of 21 players picked to the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award watch list earlier Friday, had reached his double-double in scoring in rebounds with 8 minutes to play in the game -- a good sign after the 6-11 El Dorado native recorded only 3 such games out of 35 played in '17-18.

As for Joe, he had his deep game cooking from the opening tip.

"It felt great," Joe said of his hot shooting night.

Joe credited his teammates for setting him up from 3, but the Fort Smith native was sparkling from distance in a variety of ways: catch-and-shoot, moving left and right using one-dribble set-ups, and step-back opportunities.

Joe, who said he gets up 600 shots a day in the gym apart from practice, scored the game's first basket, a lay-in, then it was bombs away from distance after that.

Gafford was impressed: "I was trying to find a bucket of cold water to pour on (Joe), because he got a little hot out there."

More Red team stats: sophomore forward Gabe Osabuohien (20 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals); freshman center Ibrahim "Ibby" Ali (6 points, 8 rebounds); junior walk-on guard Jonathan Holmes (6 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal); and junior walk-on forward Emeka Obukwelu (2 points, 3 rebounds).

Gafford also had 2 assists, 2 blocks, and 1 steal; Harris also had 5 rebounds, 4 steals, and 6 turnovers; Joe also had 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, and no turnovers.

The White team was competitive for two-thirds of the game behind strong performances by freshman combo guard Desi Sills (16 points on 6-of-9 field goals, 8 assists, 4  rebounds, 4 steals, and only 2 turnovers) and sophomore wing Mason Jones (22 points on 9-of-16 field goals, 4 assists, 4 steals, and 3 rebounds).

Jones had 17 of his points in the first half, while Sills scored 12 of his in the second half.

Sills was particularly effective as a facilitator in both transition and in the halfcourt offense. Jones did a good job of slashing and finishing at the basket, especially in the first half.

More White team stats: junior forward Adrio Bailey (22 points, 5 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 block, 1 assist); freshman forward Reggie Chaney (9 points, 6 rebounds, 2 blocks, 1 assist); freshman forward Ethan Henderson (5 points, 6 rebounds, 1 block, 1 steal); freshman guard Keyshawn Embery-Simpson (5 points, 4 rebounds, 1 steal); sophomore walk-on guard Ty Stevens (3 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist).

Up next for the Razorbacks is their first exhibition game of the season against Tusculum (Friday, Oct. 26) followed by their second and final exhibition matchup against Southwest Baptist (Friday, Nov. 2), then they open the regular season on Friday, Nov. 9, against their arch-rival Texas Longhorns in El Paso, TX, in the Armed Forces Classic that will be televised by ESPN.


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