With 5:30 remaining, Arkansas found themselves down two. They had missed their last three shots, were in a stretch of 3/13 shooting, and were at 32.8% shooting for the game. It looked like they were staring down an ugly defeat to one of their few truly winnable road games in SEC play.
Arkansas was 1/14 from three in the second half and it felt like one of those inevitable games where no matter what happens the shot just isn’t going to drop. Oh and to make matters worse Daniel Gafford had picked up his fourth foul about a minute prior to that and had to sit.
That’s when Mason Jones, 0-7 from the field and scoreless to that point, put up a step back three with no hesitation and drilled it.
It was contagious.
Isaiah Joe came down the next possession and drilled a deep one. After a couple of Aggie free throws tied the game Jones went right down and hit threes on back to back possessions. Jones’ fearlessness in the face of a rough night sparked a 14-4 run that the Hogs needed to come out on top.
Right now, with as young of a team that Arkansas has, that fearlessness is what they need to keep growing. The team leader is a sophomore that played all of last season with two senior guards, a growing rarity in college basketball. He’s going to be gone to the NBA in all likelihood so the newcomers have been called on early and often.
Mike Anderson doesn’t have the luxury of finding another player on the bench if one has a slow start. Jones, Joe, and you can throw Jalen Harris (the team’s leading scorer last night) into the mix of guys you have to let go out there and make plays.
Sometimes it’s going to work out like it did in College Station, there are probably going to be nights where things go oh so wrong. But these guys have to grow, and if you’re going to do that, they have to let it fly.