5 Observations from North Florida (w/vid)

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— Dallas Moore was obviously incredible. Hit some unreal shots. Hogs’ gameplan was to deny and then trap off PNR, which they didn’t always do effectively. And it’s just hard when you’re not used to guarding people with that kind of range. Did a better job denying in the second half and the press helped take North Florida out of its rhythm. Rest of the team couldn’t take advantage of the attention Moore commanded, shot just 38.9 percent with an offensive rating of 96.2. That’s an opponent figure Mike would take every night.

— Barford and Macon scored all the points in the 11-0 run that turned it from a one-point deficit into a 73-63 lead. Big shots that broke it open. Moore and North Florida coach Matthew Driscoll mentioned Barford’s go-ahead 3 a couple times and then Macon hit two in 13 seconds. Macon’s never afraid to take the shot. Cook was on the court, too. Driscoll mentioned the Hogs’ ability to go on runs as something that jumped out to him when watching film.

— The press helped key that run and hassled North Florida in the second half, forcing 11 turnovers which led to 16 Arkansas points. Changed the flow of the game.

— Arkansas played well against the North Florida zone for the most part. Thomas in the high post in the middle of the press is a good look. Beard and Barford each got into the middle of the defense and broke it down. Some lulls, but overall solid. Had a 112.3 offensive rating, a tick higher than the KenPom adjusted 112.2 for the season.

— Dominated the glass. Outrebounded North Florida 42-27 and turned 15 offensive rebounds into 22 second-chance points. Hogs rank fifth in the nation in offensive rebound percentage (40.7), which would be the highest in school history since the stats were being kept in the 80s. Obviously the competition has to do with some of that, but an encouraging trend. It hasn’t hurt transition defense. Just 14.4 percent of opponent shots have come in transition, the second-lowest number in the nation.

— Stray thoughts

Jimmy, one positive takeaway from this game is Barford. He did not shoot the ball that well, but he is showing that he is feeling more comfortable, and can ball if he plays without thinking. That three pointer was an example. He had no time to think. He played on instinct and shot the ball. Swish.

He is also showing athletic skills that I did not know he had. He has a heck of a vertical and I like the way he drives the lane, makes contact with the defender, hangs in the air and banks it in. I mention Dudley again, but he is all we had on the old HI board. He kept telling us about Barford’s NBA skills. He wasn’t joking.

Agreed that he’s at his best when he’s playing aggressive. Missed some shots around the rim that weighed his shooting line down, but the 16 shots lets you know he’s playing more instinctually. First time he’s shot more than 12 times and only the third time in nine games he’s had double-digit FGAs.

On the layups, he makes those look easy when in reality he’s normally going full speed, initiating contact and altering his shot all in the span of a second. Really tough finishes that he’s got a knack for converting.

As for his athleticism, I’m torn on this. I don’t necessarily think he’s that quick, but he’s hard to stop when he has a full head of steam. I’ve been kinda underwhelmed by his leaping ability (got stuffed by the rim on a dunk in the Red-White game), but the block yesterday was definitely impressive.

He flashed some nice playmaking ability yesterday that he hasn’t always shown consistently so far. All in all, a good game.

Based on what I saw yesterday I think that Barford is the most physical guard we have had in a very long time.

I’d agree with that.

I kept thinking during the first half that we should try and force Moore to go to his right hand on the drives. He made some unbelievable shots driving left (his strong hand). I thought that we ought to funnel him to use his right hand and then at least he would be shooting with his off hand. I was glad that we tried to do that a lot in the second half and I think it helped, although he was a tough cover.

No doubt about it he is the toughest matchup guard the Hawgs have faced thus far in the season, but when you think about it, he is a senior that has faced good competition for a good while he plays with a lot of confidence that’s what makes him so difficult to guard.

Barford on occasion seems to decide before driving that he is going to shoot the ball come hell or high water. That practice sometimes leads to low-percentage looks. When he learns to react and hit the abort button instead of forcing a shot, his shooting percentages will go up. He finishes efficiently on the break and when he creates some space for himself. He’s also a capable perimeter shooter. Barford is a willing defender as well. It will be interesting to see how far his game will progress.

I think he’s athletic, but it isn’t the typical basketball athleticism. He’s more like a strong safety playing hoops when he gets going downhill.

You see it when he goes rim to rim in a blink or bulls his way to the rim in traffic and finishes shots that most people miss.

He has the potential to be a plus defender. Moore lit him up but many of those shots were very tough takes and makes.