If mental toughness is measured by how one responds to adversity, check that box for Mason Jones and the Arkansas Razorbacks. The Hogs bludgeoned the Tulsa Golden Hurricanes, 98-79, a week after suffering a tough first loss of the season. Having to wait a full week to move past the loss added an edge to the Hogs’ playing.
Jones opened the game with a three from the top of the key and set the tone for the game: he wasn’t gonna stop, ever. When it was over, he had 41 points on 12/18 shooting and 12/13 free throws. The basketball gods shone on him at the end of the first half, when his three at the buzzer appeared to miss, bounced on to the top of the backboard, then fell back through the hoop. That was Mason’s day, in a nutshell. He added six boards, four steals, and four assists to make sure everyone knew he could do it all.
The Razorbacks trailed once early, down 4-3, then immediately went on an 18-1 streak to give themselves a heavy enough cushion that the game was never in doubt after that. Midway through the second half, Tulsa chipped the lead down to nine points. Arkansas’s relentless defense from that point turned into Tulsa turnovers, and the lead hovered around 20 the rest of the way.
Arkansas kept up the effort the entire game, even when it was well out of hand. After Jones sank two free throws to get to the 40-point mark with less than four minutes in the game, the Hogs pushed on defense, fighting for a turnover which eventually got to Adrio Bailey. Bailey passed it off to Jones, who lobbed it back to Bailey for the oop. Then it appeared like Tulsa had gotten past the Hogs celebrating, but Jaylen Harris blocked the lay-up. Instead of letting it go out of bounds and back to Tulsa, Jones dove into the sideline to keep it in play, where Harris tipped into Desi Sills’s hands. All-out effort from a team up 21. You love to see it.
Jones had the eye-popping numbers, but he didn’t do it alone. Isaiah Joe had a big day with 20 points on 4/10 3-point shooting. The shooting ace is slowly starting to come around from the slightly disappointing start to his season. Jimmy Whitt Jr. added his 11 points and Sills hit 9. Reggie Chaney led the Hogs with 9 boards.
Elijah Joiner led Tulsa with 19 points, and Martins Igbanu added 18. Tulsa only gave up a relatively low 13 turnovers, 12 of which were forced by the Hogs.
Coach Eric Musselman finally called off the dogs with less than a minute to go, bringing in Emeka Obukwelu and Jamario Bell in for their first appearances of the season. I’m especially happy that Bell is getting some sports joy, having been a member of the football team. As the seconds ticked down, Ty Stevens tried his best to get the Hogs to the century mark scoring, which deeply upset Tulsa’s coach and head chump, Frank Haith. So add another win on top of that final score!
Razorbacks Basketball keeps being very good.
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