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Arkansas basketball: Well-conditioned Razorbacks remain unbeaten

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Head coach Eric Musselman did not go deep into his bench in this one.

Arkansas Razorbacks junior Mason Jones drives to the rim against Montana Grizzlies freshman Kyle Owens during Arkansas’ 64-46 victory at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville on November 16. Image courtesy of the Arkansas Razorbacks.

Their third of five consecutive home games to open the season, the Arkansas Razorbacks defeated the Montana Grizzlies, 64-46, on Saturday at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville.

A low-scoring affair, Arkansas took a 13-point lead into the halftime break and slightly widened the gap in the second half.

Scoring a game-high 19 points, junior Mason Jones was one of just seven Razorbacks to play in the game.

Addressing the media postgame, head coach Eric Musselman stated his reasoning for the shallow bench.

“Every coach, every program has their own philosophy on that.

“I’d rather have a tired (sophomore) Isaiah Joe shooting than somebody else. We’ll roll with however many players it takes to win on that night. We’re not going to just pass out minutes. You have to earn them in practice and you have to earn them understanding the game plan.”

Complementing Jones on the offensive end of the floor, redshirt senior Jimmy Whitt Jr. and senior Adrio Bailey added 14 and 12 points, respectively. Returning to Fayetteville after a three-year hiatus with the SMU Mustangs, Whitt is now averaging 9.6 points and four rebounds per game.

While the Razorbacks left plenty to be desired on offense, the defense made life difficult for Montana all evening long. The Grizzlies shot just 2-16 (12.5%) from three-point range and were harassed into 22 turnovers.

The only two members of fourth-year head coach Travis DeCuire’s team to score in double-figures, senior Sayeed Pridgett led Montana with 13 points and redshirt senior Kendal Manuel chipped in 12.

Musselman knows that some nights - especially early in the season - you have to take the win, learn from it, and move on.

“We didn’t shoot the ball well at all. We weren’t pretty offensively tonight, but that’s what you have to do on nights when you can’t score.

“You have to up your defensive intensity. Montana really struggled from the three-point area with our defense. I thought we did a great job closing out the shooters and not giving them any clean looks.”

With every team in the Southeastern Conference having played at least three games, the Razorbacks are one of just seven teams in the league to not have a tally in the loss column.

The Razorbacks (3-0) will next be in action on Tuesday, November 19 vs. Texas Southern (0-3) at 7:00PM CT on the SEC Network+.

Members of the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC), the Tigers have reached the NCAA Tournament eight times in program history, including four of the last six seasons. Former LSU and interim Memphis coach Johnny Jones is in his second season at the helm of Texas Southern.

These two schools have met six times before, with Arkansas winning each meeting.