This season, he learned to thrive in a new role team leader.
Arkansas started off sluggish, as they allowed Butler to obtain a 21-2 lead with under 14 minutes left until halftime.
That could have been a huge emotional swing, but the Bulldogs kept their cool. "They got two good players on the perimeter they could go for 30 points on any given night". "They've got firepower and some offensive weapons that can get you back in the game". "It was all about the next play".
The victor faces either No. 2 Purdue or No. 15 Cal State Fullerton on Sunday - Butler would love another shot at big-brother in-state rival Purdue (they played in December). Senior forward Kelan Martin is the star, averaging 20.8 points and 6.2 rebounds. Butler took control again early in the second.
The Razorbacks (23-11, 10-8 SEC) were most recently knocked out of the SEC Tournament by eventual 3-seed Tennessee.
"We just have to get in there and draw shot fakes", said Martin, who was second in the Big East with 20.8 points per game.
Arkansas answered with a quick 10-0 run, and although Gafford was contributing little offensively, the Razorbacks came all the way back and took a 29-27 lead on a 3-pointer by C.J. Jones.
That advantage was brief, though.
So media covering Butler already quiz Jordan about Game Two Sunday. "So I know our guys are super, super excited about having a chance to play in this event and having a chance to play against an outstanding Butler team". We had some absolutely insane games, like Loyola-Chicago knocking down what was basically a buzzer-beater to defeat Miami, Rhode Island and Oklahoma playing a barnburner that the Rams won in overtime, and Rob Gray was out of his mind in Houston's win over San Diego State.
This was the third NCAA Tournament appearance for the Razorbacks in a four-year span.
Butler held Arkansas, who shoots over 40 percent from deep as a team, without a single 3-point make for the opening 8:38 of this contest.
Martin averaged 15 points and 6.3 rebounds in the Bulldog's run to the Sweet 16 last season as a No. 4 seed, which ended with a loss to the Tar Heels, and all told he has played in seven tournament games.
Martin and Baldwin scored 32 points in the second half.
Jaylen Barford has 14 to lead Arkansas, and Daryl Macon has 12. "It was just a team effort tonight".
"We've been working on this all year", Beard said. "You can't put them on the free-throw line. So it was a team effort tonight". Sophomore guard Kamar Baldwin added 24 points, nine rebounds and five assists. Mike Anderson's Hogs have won eight of their last 11 games going into the tournament. "I thought his intentions were there".
"I think he's got a maturity about him from his experiences that has helped him and has helped him help others".
"But I thought he played with his heart".