Coming off their first loss of the season to Western Kentucky on the road, the Razorbacks looked to respond in a big way. Back in Fayetteville on Saturday, the home crowd may have been sparked by the introduction of new head football coach, Sam Pittman. The disastrous football season combined with the contagious energy of coach Eric Musselman has caused the fan base to rally around the basketball team’s recent success. Hog fans’ hopes were answered in part on Saturday thanks to a monstrous performance from their star.
Tulsa came into this contest 1–0 against SEC teams this season, beating Vanderbilt late in November. The Hurricanes were also 1–1 against teams from Arkansas prior to facing the Razorbacks. These contests include a win against Arkansas State and a loss to University of Arkansas Pine Bluff. The loss to UAPB being only their 2nd of the season. The rolling Hurricanes boast more size than the feisty Razorbacks. They lined up two starters taller than Arkansas’s starting center, Adrio Bailey.
Star Studded Performance
The tale of the tape for Arkansas can easily be summarized in two names: Mason Jones and Isaiah Joe. Led by a career high performance from Mason Jones, the sharp-shooters combined to shoot 62.5% from the field. Perhaps more notably, the duo put up 9 triples on a combined 42.8% from deep. Although Isaiah Joe seemed to find his rhythm after struggling recently, enough cannot be said about Mason Jones. He put up a season high in minutes played, assists, field goals attempted and made, FG%, free throws attempted and made, and 3pts attempted and made. Oh, and let’s not forget a career high 41 points, the first Razorback to eclipse the 40 point mark since Todd Day in 1992. The performance was awe inspiring to say the least. It was the perfect response to the Razorback’s first loss under coach Musselman.
Tulsa managed to exploit their height mismatched with some bully-ball in the paint. They also managed to win the rebound battle by accounting for 14 offensive boards to Arkansas’s 5. A balanced scoring attack saw four different Hurricanes score double digits. Only adding to the magnitude of Arkansas’s 98 point performance, Tulsa had only allowed an average of 53 points per game to its last 5 opponents. Though proven to have a capable defense, the Hurricanes had no answer to the offensive onslaught provided by Mason Jones and Isaiah Joe.
Razorbacks Among Tournament Hopefuls
A balanced game from Arkansas’s supporting cast perfectly complimented the career game from the Hogs’ star duo. When the two Razorback stars are in sync, they are near unstoppable on the offensive side of the ball. Combine their scoring abilities with the energy and spot up shooting of Desi Sills and Jaylen Harris, the tenacity and athleticism of Adrio Bailey, and the smooth and collected demeanor of Jimmy Whitt, this Razorback team can be a force to be reckoned with come tournament time. Can the Hogs maintain their consistency on both sides of the ball through March? Only time will tell.