Sports

Razorback men sizzle 121-89 over FIU at Walton Arena

Arkansas advances to 5-1 in 2018 hoops campaign

Nate Allen Sports
The now 7-2 Florida International University Panthers of Conference USA had run past or close to all they played until they ran into the Razorbacks and Arkansas’ certainly not so average Joe.
Isaiah Joe, the University of Arkansas freshman guard from Fort Smith Northside, sizzled putting on a 10 of 13 3-point shooting show while scoring a career high 34 points leading Coach Mike Anderson’s Razorbacks to a 121-89 victory Saturday night at Walton Arena.
Jones exited to a standing ovation at 2:35 tying the Razorbacks second-best record 34 points in a game for a freshman that Arkansas assistant coach Scotty Thurman set for Nolan Richardson’s 1992-93 Razorbacks eclipsed in 2013-2014 by Bobby Portis’ 35.
Joe’s performance did not take FIU Coach Jeremy Ballard by surprise.
“Our scouting report was what he was tonight,” Ballard said. “We knew he was electric shooting the ball. He’s got incredible shot fakes, step to the side and make threes. Very impressive.”
Obviously Anderson was impressed, too while noting it was a team effort.
Daniel Gafford, the star sophomore center from El Dorado scoring 23 points inside, creates much outside space.
“Isaiah Joe has a career high night and what a shooting display he put on,” Anderson said. “But I think you go back to how the game started, it started with a dunk by Daniel Gafford. So a lot of attention was paid to Daniel. But he (Joe) got in one of those zones and our guys did a good job of really finding him. It was an opportunity for him to step up and knock some shots down take what the defense was giving us.
When the Hogs get what FIU gave, Joe’s the guy that’s supposed to take it, Gafford said.
“What he did is basically what he was recruited to do,” Gafford said. “He came up here and he shot the ball. He was unstoppable from the 3 and basically whatever he wanted he got tonight so props to him.”
While an all-round player and one of the Hogs most willing to take a charge, Joe knows he’s supposed to take an open look given.
“As a shooter you’re always taught to shoot the ball no matter what,” Joe said. “I was just fortunate my teammates kept finding me for those open looks and I was able to knock them down.”
How did it feel joining the 30-point club?
“ Oh man, it’s a great honor,” Joe said. “All the players that make it to that club are great players. Just to be following in their footsteps is a great honor.
Arkansas advances to 5-1 into its next game Wednesday night in Fort Collins, Colo. against the Colorado State University Rams.
Joe blistered FIU outside while two teammates double-doubled.
Gafford 23 points and 12 rebounds and four blocked shots, and sophomore guard Mason Jones, 19 points and 10 rebounds played double-double supporting roles to Joe’s star billing.
Point guard Jalen Harris missed a double-double by a point scoring nine with 10 assists against but one turnover.
The game’s pace, FIU entered the game averaging 96.9 points and leading the nation with 95 steals, and pressed all game like Arkansas, was conducive to stats which Arkansas certainly achieved.
“It was actually a fun game,” Joe said. “This is the way the way we practice against each other. So them pressing us like that, it was just like first nature. We were already used to it.” We’re the Fastest40. That’s what we do. We get up and down. “
Brian Beard led FIU with 21, one point below his season’s average but only hit 5 of 15 from this field to achieve them.
while fellow FIU guard Trejon Jacob scored 20.
Joe’s first-half quality easily surpassed the Panthers’ first-half quantity.
The Panthers opened the game misfiring sprees of threes and hit but 3 of 18 for the half.
Joe launched seven tries for treys, hit five, and scored 17 first-half points as Arkansas led 58-35 at intermission.
In just that half, Joe matched his previous collegiate career high 17 scored in Arkansas’ season-opening 73-71 overtime loss to Texas.
Sophomore guard Jones hit 2 of 3 first-half treys enabling Arkansas to score 21 first-half points on 15 tried treys to FIU’s nine points on treys in its 18 first-half attempts.
Behind Joe, Gafford and junior forward Adrio Bailey, 10 points before fouling out in 16 minutes the Razorbacks roared to a 22-9 lead and were up, 22-11 when Gafford exited with his second foul at 11:44.
The Panthers capitalized on his absence. Their 9-0 run, including Bailey’s second foul, cut the Arkansas lead to 24-20.
Then with Gafford returned along came Joe with a three igniting a 10-0 run that included another Joe trey.
“Any time we made a run or mini-run I think you saw Joe answer with a 3 or two threes,” Ballard said. “He hit a lot of daggers tonight.”

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