Should Arkansas defeat Florida, the Hogs would play the victor of Tennessee-Mississippi State game at approximately 2:30 p.m. on Saturday. Arkansas led by as many as 15 points, but poor shot selection, turnovers, and other mistakes allowed SC back in the game. But Arkansas had one of its best games of the season at the free throw line, shooting 24/27. Arkansas' misses kept SC in the game as well as two well-timed three-pointers by Frank Booker.
Florida hasn't reached the semifinals of the SEC Tournament since 2014, the year the Gators last won the event and made a run to the Final Four.
Arkansas moves on to the quarterfinals to meet No. 3 Florida on Friday night around 8:30 p.m.
"It took a little time, but we've learned how to play together", Florida coach Mike White said. Not only did he post 22 points and 5 rebounds, but he shot an extremely efficient 8-10 from the field, including 4-5 from beyond the arc.
The victor of the Georgia-Vandy game moves on to face fifth-seeded Missouri tomorrow. The Gators maintained the lead, pushing it back to 29-22 at the 4:54 mark on a 3-pointer by Okauru. "We know we let them back in the game".
Using a 16-2 run in the second half, the Razorbacks were able to gain control of the game and defeat the Gators for the first time since 2013.
On offense, junior guard Jalen Hudson has stepped up of late, averaging 22.7 points over his last three games. Arkansas led the SEC in three-point percentage (40%) during the regular season and have two of the top three-point shooters in the conference in Jaylen Barford (43.3%) and Darly Macon (42.6%).
Arkansas salted the game away at the free-throw line against a resilient Gamecocks squad that was led by Chris Silva with 15 points and 11 rebounds and Make Kotsar with 15 points and 11 rebounds. On South Carolina's next possession, Barford tipped and stole a pass and returned it for an easy layup and seven-point lead. The Razorbacks have won eight of their past 10 games.
Arkansas' starting guard trio of Beard, Macon and Barford played 37, 30 and 29 minutes respectively with Gafford and Bailey playing 25 and 24 minutes. Senior guards Jaylen Barford & Daryl Macon, who combined for 49 points against SC in February, had just 29 points on 8/21 shooting from the floor.
Florida is now projected as a 5 to 6 seed in most NCAA Tournament mock web sites. This year, the Razorbacks have led by an average of 9.7 points at the break in 23 wins. The games can be streamed on the SEC Network Plus or the WatchESPN app.