Arkansas coach Eric Musselman talked Monday afternoon about some of his interactions with NBA star Kobe Bryant, who was killed Sunday in a helicopter crash in the Los Angeles area.
After back-to-back SEC losses, Arkansas fans weren’t quite ready to leap off the Mussbus, but some were starting to squirm.
A lot of that changed Saturday in front of a nearly-packed Bud Walton Arena as Eric Musselman gave everyone another sign he knows a thing or two about coaching a basketball team.
“It was our best game of the year on both sides of the ball,” Musselman said after the 78-67 win over a pretty good TCU team.
Considering that Musselman consults with his dog, Swish, every morning you wonder if other coaches may start talking to them more frequently.
Don’t worry about it. The only problem there is if they start blaming the dog.
The Razorbacks lost a game to Kentucky a week ago they at least had a chance of winning before collapsing late. Then they dropped a road game against Mississippi State on Wednesday.
With second-leading scorer Isaiah Joe out for this game after tweaking his knee in the second half at Starkville, it was normal for folks to be a little concerned.
Instead they beat a pretty good TCU team a lot easier than anybody expected as Mason Jones found a way to score, Desi Sills started hitting three-pointers and Jimmy Whitt, Jr., played one of the best defensive games seen in Fayetteville in awhile.
Whitt face-guarded TCU’s Desmond Bane the entire game and held the second-leading scorer in the Big 12 (averaging 17.2 points a game) to just 8, six of those coming on back-to-back 3-pointers to start the second half.
“He’s one of the best defenders I’ve ever seen at the collegiate level,” Musselman said later.
That was the end of non-conference games that included road wins over three Power 5 teams, Indiana, Georgia Tech and the Horned Frogs.
“We were awesome,” was how Musselman described the Hogs’ in non-conference games. They only dropped a road game against Western Kentucky. “Now we’ll see what we do in our own conference.”
Arkansas led by as many as seven in the first half and took a four-point lead at the break, 33-29.
Jones, who only scored one point in the first half, opened the second half with a 3-pointer and Whitt had a layup to push the lead to nine.
TCU cut the Hogs’ lead to three twice over the next minute-and-a-half before Reggie Chaney reeled off six straight points for the Razorbacks to regain a 9-point lead (46-37 with 16:09 left).
The Horned Frogs hung around until a technical foul was called on TCU coach Jamie Dixon. From that point, the Razorbacks turned a five-point game (51-46 with 10 minutes left) into a 15-point game (63-48 with 7:53 left) and held on for the win.
“I only yelled ‘carry,'” Dixon said later, clearly miffed at the technical call. “That was it.”
First half notes
• TCU scored the game’s first four points. Arkansas rallied to tie the game at 6-6.
• The first 17 minutes featured four ties and three lead changes. The last lead change was a 6-0 Razorback run for a seven-point (24-17) lead at 5:04.
• Whitt led the Hogs with 12 first-half points (5-of-8)
• Sills added 11 off the bench (4-of-5 field goals, including 2-of-2 on 3-pointers to halt a dry spell behind the arc).
Second half notes
• Arkansas scored the first five points of the second half on a Jones’ 3-pointer and a jumper by Whitt jumper to go up nine, 38-29.
• Jones scored 19 of his 20 points in the first half.
• Arkansas’ starting lineup was Jimmy Whitt (G) – Jalen Harris (G) – Mason Jones (G) – Adrio Bailey (F) – Reggie Chaney (F) for the first time this season. It was the third different starting lineup Arkansas has used this season.
“I had a great walk this morning with my dog, and Swish told me to stick [Harris] in there and bring Desi off the bench and start Reggie,” Musselman said later. “I listened to my dog so it worked out well tonight.”
• Arkansas won the tip for the 10th time in 19 games this season. Arkansas is 8-2 in such games.
• TCU’s Kevin Samuel scored the first points of the game, a put-back at 19:16. Jalen Harris scored Arkansas’ first points, a 3-pointer at 18:20. It was his first time to score the team’s first points this season.
• TCU is one of Arkansas’ oldest rivals. The Horned Frogs are one of three teams on the Razorbacks’ schedule in 1923-24, the program’s first year of basketball. Arkansas is now 105-38 versus TCU, including a 55-15 mark in Fayetteville.
• Arkansas played in its sixth consecutive Big 12/SEC Challenge. The Razorbacks are 3-3 in the Big 12/SEC Challenge with wins over Texas Tech (2016), Oklahoma State (2018) and TCU (2020) at home. Arkansas lost at Iowa State (2015), at Oklahoma State (2017) and at Texas Tech (2019).
• Both teams attempted 50 field goals, Arkansas made 27 shots and TCU 24. Both teams made six 3-pointers.
• This was the third game Arkansas shot over 50% from the field (54%.).
• Arkansas’ 14 assists were its most since Valpo (Dec. 21).
• TCU’s 19 turnovers were the most by an opponent since Austin Peay (Dec. 3).
• Sills’ 18 points were his second-best career effort.
• Whitt played all 40 minutes for the second time this season and he has played at least 44 in Arkansas’ two overtime times. Whitt played all 40 minutes at LSU to become the first Razorbacks to play all 40 minutes in a regulation game since 2009.
• Whitt has scored in double-digits in seven straight, including 22 points at LSU, 30 versus Vanderbilt and 20 at Mississippi State.
• In addition to Whitt’s 20 points, the graduate senior was impressive guarding Bane. Bane entered the game averaging 17.2 ppg while averaging 6.3 shots made and 13.2 attempts. Bane also ranked 14th in the NCAA in 3-point shooting (44.1%). Whitt held Bane to just 3-of-6 shooting from the field (2-of-3 from 3-point range) and he scored just eight points – his third single-digit scoring output of the year.
• Chaney was 3-of-6 from the field He has made 19-of-his-last-23 shots from the field (82.6%).
Information, game notes from Razorback Sports Communications are included in this story.
Arkansas coach Eric Musselman was down this week after two losses, but felt better Saturday evening after shutting down the Horned Frogs, 78-67, at Bud Walton Arena.
Razorback players Jalen Harris (7 points, 6 assists, 4 rebounds) and Desi Sills (18 points) on big scoring nights without second-leading scorer Isaiah Joe missing the game with an injury.
Horned Frogs coach Jamie Dixon talked after the 78-67 loss to the Razorbacks about his team getting shut down and getting a technical foul for saying “carry”.
Arkansas coach Eric Musselman announced just before game time that guard Isaiah Joe will not play against TCU due to an injury.
“Isaiah had knee inflammation after the Ole Miss game,” Musselman said in a statement. “He re-aggravated his knee late in the Mississippi State game. The decision was made today that it would be in Isaiah’s best interest to rest his knee for the TCU game.”
Joe was the second-leading scorer on the team coming into the game and sixth in the SEC.
Razorbacks coach Eric Musselman talked Friday afternoon about Mason Jones’ early phone call about bringing energy and discussing starting lineup with his dog Swish.
Arkansas guard Jimmy Whitt, Jr., talked with the media Friday afternoon about how players are fighting through shooting problems, previewing Saturday’s game with TCU.
Mississippi State outscored Arkansas in a huge way from the free-throw line Wednesday night to come away with a 77-70 win in Starkville, Miss.
The shorter Razorbacks out-scored the Bulldogs in the paint, 46-24, but couldn’t overcome a 21-point difference in free throws.
Arkansas out-scored the bigger Mississippi State, 46-24, in the paint, but the Bulldogs were 27-of-31 at the free throw line to claim a 77-70 victory Wednesday night.
The Razorbacks were just 6-of-11 at the free throw line.
Mason Jones and Jimmy Whitt, Jr., each had 20 points for Arkansas, while Jones and Isaiah Joe each pulled down seven rebounds.
Joe, for the second straight game, was completely shut down on the offensive end, getting just five points in the game. He was 2-of-13 from the field and 1-of-8 on 3-pointers. His only made shot from outside the arc came 2:25 into the game.
After that, he was Oh-for-7 and that’s never good for the Razorbacks.
Reggie Perry led the Bulldogs with 26 points and 13 rebounds, as the sophomore was 14-of-15 at the free throw line.
The loss dropped the Hogs to 14-4 overall and evened the league record at 3-3.
Arkansas will step out of conference Saturday, hosting TCU in the SEC-Big 12 Challenge at Bud Walton Arena, starting at 3 p.m.
Information from Razorback Sports Communications is included in this story.
Who: Arkansas Razorbacks (14-3) at Mississippi State Bulldogs (11-6)
What: Arkansas’s second trip to the Magnolia State in 10 days
When: Wednesday – Jan. 21, 2020 – 6:00 pm (CT)
Where: Starkville, Miss. – Humphrey Coliseum
• TV: SEC Network (Mike Morgan and Jon Sunvold) CLICK HERE to Watch ESPN/SEC Network Online
• Radio: ESPN Arkansas 95.3 in the River Valley, 96.3 in Hot Springs and 104.3 in Harrison-Mountain Home (Chuck Barrett and Matt Zimmerman)
• Online: HitThatLine.com will have all action, starting with pregame at 5:30 p.m. HERE
FAYETTEVILLE —Arkansas completes a run of playing six of 10 games on road with a road contest at Mississippi State tonight.
Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. and the game will be telecast on the SEC Network.
You can also listen to the game online HERE and on radio at ESPN Arkansas 95.3 in the River Valley, 96.3 in Hot Springs and 104.3 in Harrison-Mountain Home.
Pregame starts at 5:30 p.m.
Against Mississippi State
• This will be the 63rd meeting between Arkansas and Mississippi State. The Razorbacks own a 33-29 advantage in the series, including a 28-25 since Arkansas joined the SEC in 1991-92.
• The series has been dominated by the home team as each team is 21-7 versus the other when playing at home.
• Mississippi State has won four straight (snapping a 5-game win streak by the Razorbacks).
• Arkansas had a cold start to the second half and Mississippi State used a 23-1 run to get a 77-67 win at Bud Walton Arena.
• Arkansas, who led by six at halftime, scored the first two points of the second half on two free throws by Daniel Gafford, but the Razorbacks would ultimately miss its first 14 shots from the field. Mississippi State went from down eight to up 14 midway through the second half.
• However, Mason Jones, who tied a then career-high with 30 points, kept Arkansas within striking distance. The Bulldogs never folded and Quinndary Weatherspoon thwarted Arkansas’ final push with a 3-pointer from the top of the key to put his Bulldogs up 12 with three minutes to play.
• Weatherspoon finished with 22 and was joined in double figures by Tyson Carter (18), Reggie Perry (12) and Robert Woodard II (10).
How Arkansas off-sets rebounding deficit
• While Arkansas only ranks 177th in the NCAA in defensive rebounds, they are getting a school-record 70.7 percent of available rebounds on the defensive end (25.88 defensive rebounds per game and opponents only 10.7 offensive rebounds per game).
• Mason Jones ranks 6th in the SEC in defensive rebounds per game (5.2).
• Arkansas still leads the NCAA in 3-point defense, opponents make just 23.4%.
• Arkansas is 1st in the SEC in fewest turnovers per game (12.1).
• Arkansas is 1st in the SEC in forcing the most turnovers per game (17.53).
• Arkansas is 2nd in the SEC In assist-to-turnover ratio (1.05).
Taking care of the ball in SEC play
• In SEC play, Arkansas leads the league in fewest turnover (8.8/gm) and forcing the most turnovers (15.6). The Hogs have a league-best turnover margin of +6.8. The next closest is Alabama at +2.6.
• In SEC play, Arkansas has 61 assists and a league-low 44 turnovers for an SEC-best assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.4.
Arkansas has best scoring duo-trio in SEC
Arkansas is the only team in the SEC to feature:
• Two players in the league’s top 5 for scoring for the season in Mason Jones (4th-18.2) and Isaiah Joe (5th-17.5)
• Three players in the league’s top 20 for scoring for the season with Jones, Joe and Jimmy Whitt, Jr., (11th-14.8)
Arkansas is the only team in the SEC to feature:
• Two players in the league’s top 7 for scoring in SEC play in Joe (6th-tied-17.8) and Whitt (6th-tied / 17.8)
• Three players in the league’s top 16 for scoring in SEC play with Joe (6th-t-17.8), Whitt (6th-t-17.8) and Jones (16th / 14.8)
Isaiah Joe on Jerry West Shooting Guard of the Year Watch List
Arkansas sophomore Isaiah Joe was named to the 2020 Jerry West Shooting Guard of the Year Award watch list, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced today. VOTE HERE
Information from Razorback Sports Communications is included in this story.