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Graham's career game fuels Arkansas over Florida

There was no stopping Jalen Graham on Saturday as the senior forward posted a career-high 26 points off the bench to help Arkansas back into the win column.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The University of Arkansas men's basketball team started its game against Florida 3-of-10 shooting and trailed by four points with 8:36 to play in the first half.

That would be the last time the Razorbacks (18-9, 7-7 SEC) trailed as senior forward Jalen Graham posted a career game off the bench to help Arkansas to an 84-65 victory over Florida (14-13, 7-7) Saturday afternoon at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville.

The win snaps a two-game losing streak for the Razorbacks.

Arkansas took advantage of size mismatches with the Gators' missing their leading scorer— the 6-foot-11-inch fifth-year forward Colin Castleton, who broke his wrist in a 79-64 victory against Ole Miss on Feb. 15.

Graham was aggressive under the basket and shined in his 27 minutes on the court. He scored a career-high 26 points on 80% shooting from the field and pulled in seven rebounds.

The Razorbacks started sluggishly but found a rhythm after junior guard Ricky Council made a shot to cut Florida's lead to 23-21 with 8:20 remaining in the first half.

That shot sparked the Hogs to a 14-2 run capped by a three-point play by freshman guard Nick Smith to put Arkansas ahead 30-23 with 3:58 to play in the opening half.

Smith scored 10 points and was a +23 while on the floor in 32 minutes, the most playing time he's seen since returning from a knee injury on Feb. 11.

Arkansas shot an efficient 57.6% from the field and quickly stretched its lead in the opening minutes of the second half.

Freshman guard Jordan Walsh opened the final 20 minutes with one of the Razorbacks' two threes in the game, and senior center Makhi Mitchell made two jumpers and a dunk to give Arkansas a 50-33 lead.

Walsh scored five points on 50% shooting, while Mitchell posted a double-double of 10 points and a game-high 10 rebounds.

The Hogs reeled off a 17-2 run in front of an announced crowd of 19,200 people at Bud Walton Arena as Graham threw down a ferocious dunk to put the Razorbacks ahead 54-33 with 14:10 to play.

Florida struggled to string together baskets and never managed to get within 19 points of Arkansas's lead in the second half.

The Razorbacks held the Gators to 37.3% shooting from the field, including 19% from three. Arkansas forced 12 turnovers and outrebounded Florida 40 to 25.

Freshman guard Riley Kugal and sophomore guard Will Richard were the only two Gators to score double digits. Kugal led Florida with 17 points, while Richard posted 10 points.

Arkansas freshman guard Anthony Black had 14 points and a team-high three assists, while Council finished with 15 points on 6-of-10 shooting and seven rebounds to help the Hogs solidify their victory down the stretch. 

The Razorbacks return to action on Tuesday at home against Georgia. Coverage from Bud Walton Arena begins at 8 p.m. Central on the SEC Network.

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