Despite being without leading scorer and rebounder Daniel Gafford, the Arkansas Razorbacks cruised to an 84-72 road victory against the Providence Friars in the first round of the NIT Tuesday evening.
Arkansas got hot from the beginning of the game, hitting their first five threes and getting out to a 30-15 lead 12 minutes into the contest. The Friars tried to match Arkansas from deep, but missed all eleven three-pointers they attempted in the first half.
The particularly frustrating thing for Providence is the fact that there were plenty of chances to score inside the key. 26 of their 31 points in the first half came in the paint, and it seemed like Arkansas didn’t have a gameplan to stop them without Gafford,
Things didn’t improve in the second half for Providence, either. They got within 10 with 14 minutes to go after Drew Edwards finally hit a three after the Friars missed their first 13, but it was immediately followed by an Arkansas three, as was the case so often Tuesday evening. The Razorbacks ended up with ten threes on the evening, with Mason Jones hitting a game-high four. Jones led Arkansas with 18 points.
We will dive deeper into Providence as the offseason gets closer, but one thing is certain: the Friars need to figure out a way to get consistency on offense next season. Too many games this season saw them go cold on that side of the ball for long stretches at a time, ultimately dooming the team.