Mason Jones. He got good at basketball, and his game-winning three with .01 seconds left to beat Georgia Tech will be a big part of his legacy. Just when it felt like the Hogs couldn’t buy a basket, Jones deposited a bank shot to give Arkansas a 62-61 overtime win on the road, their first road win over a non-conference power opponent since 2004.
The Razorbacks were finally tested after five blow-outs to begin the season. To this point, they hadn’t had to play a full forty minutes. But on their first road trip, the Yellow Jackets made sure they put in that much and more.
The game was tight the entire forty-five minutes. Arkansas, at points, held leads up to nine points, but those leads quickly dissolved. For Tech’s part, they played through a mess of turnovers to keep challenging and not letting Arkansas take control of the game. Both teams were led by their defense when the shots wouldn’t fall. Tech held the Hogs to 38.6% shooting on the night, while the Hogs forced 23 turnovers and 18.2% three-point shooting out of the Ramblin’ Wreck. The night was exemplified by the first four minutes and change of overtime, when the Hogs missed shots on shots and the Yellow Jackets could hardly end a possession without giving the ball up.
In fact, overtime looked to be edging toward a shut-out, until Tech’s big man, James Banks III, hit a shot inside to give the home team their first lead since 12:29 left in the first half, when the score had been 14-13. Gratefully, Mason Jones made sure that lead was ever-so-brief.
Jones led all scorers with 24 points, to go along with 4 steals and 3 assists. Isaiah Joe, on hot-and-cold shooting, had 13 points, most of which came at critical times of the game, when the Hog lead was precarious. Desi Sills had 11 points, including a pair of lay-ups late in the second half that broke ties.
Banks led Georgia Tech with 20 points, at times dominating the paint with his 6’10 frame. His 13 rebounds alone nearly doomed Arkansas, and going forward, that’s kind of frightening. Michael Devoe, who averaged 26 points per game prior to this contest, was held to 12 points on 4-16 shooting before fouling out in overtime.
Outside of that final, incredible shot, this game was mostly forgettable. It was as ugly as you’re likely to see in a game where your team comes out on top. The size disadvantage for the Hogs made itself glaring, open buckets wouldn’t fall in, and fouls and turnovers were far too high. Georgia Tech was playing without their hero from last year’s game, Jose Alvarado.
But this was also the kind of game we’ve been losing consistently for the last twenty years, and grit won out. The old adage, defense travels, held true. When you’ve got nothing else, you’ve got effort, and that’s promising for the rest of the season.
Now let’s go watch that Mason Jones shot again.
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