FAYETTEVILLE – Whether Arkansas junior guard/forward Mason Jones’ sprained shoulder has sufficiently healed for him to play against the Austin Peay University Governors tonight won’t be decided until shortly before tip-off, Arkansas coach Eric Musselman said Monday afternoon.
Musselman’s Razorbacks, 7-0 of the SEC, and coach Matt Figger’s Governors, 3-3 of the Ohio Valley Conference, tip off at 7 tonight at Walton Arena.
The Razorbacks Radio Network broadcasts the game which is Internet video available on SEC Network +.
Arkansas’ leading scorer (18.5 average) whose buzzer beating banked 3-pointer beat Georgia Tech, 62-61 on Nov. 25 in Atlanta, Jones missed last Saturday’s 66-60 victory over Northern Kentucky because of his sprained right shoulder.
Musselman said he and Jones met Monday morning and that Jones was going to do “some noncontact stuff” in Monday afternoon’s closed practice.
“Right now it’s not bothering him shooting,” Musselman said. “It’s bothering him defensively little bit when he puts his arm a certain way.”
“The good thing is if he plays we need his shooting more than we need his defense,” Musselman said. “So I think it will be a game-time decision.”
Senior graduate transfer Jeantal Cylla started for Jones against Northern Kentucky but only played six minutes with an all zeros stat line.
Sophomore 6-8 forward Reggie Chaney, six points, 11 rebound and five assists in 24 minutes, and junior guard Jalen Harris, five points, four rebounds and five assists in 35 minutes, provided a 2-man bench against Northern Kentucky.
“ I thought that off the bench that Reggie and Jalen Harris changed the complexion of the game,” Musselman said Monday reviewing the victory over Northern Kentucky. “Those two guys changed the speed of the game. We became a running team. The pace picked up.”
Either Cylla, in a slump, Musselman acknowledged, or Chaney, immediately in foul trouble the two games he started for former Arkansas coach Mike Anderson’s Razorbacks last season, while playing the other 32 games off the bench, will start if Jones can’t.
“I think right now he’s going through a confidence issue,” Musselman said of Cylla, a 13.7 scorer and 4.6 rebounder last season at North Carolina-Wilmington.
The narrow escapes against Georgia Tech and Northern Kentucky haven’t allowed Cylla much floor time to get his game together, Musselman said.
Regarding Chaney, Musselman said he’s constantly showing the sophomore game film from last season and this season on the kinds of fouls he’s committing and how to correct those tendencies.
“We just continue to talk to him about trying to let the refs see his hands and body up, hands up a little bit more to stay out of foul trouble.” Musselman said.
The other major correction, particularly if Jones can’t play, is getting 3 point shooters Isaiah Joe, only making 6 of his last 27 3-point tries, and Desi Sills, 2 of 30 for the season, going to complement the inside scoring of Jimmy Whitt, 14.3 average with 24 against Northern Kentucky, and Sills, 17 points against Northern Kentucky and 11 against Georgia Tech.
All need to be on their defensive game tonight. Terry Taylor, the Governors’ 6-5 junior guard, averages 23.3 points and 9.2 rebounds APU 6-3 freshman guard Jordyn Adams averages 15.5 points and 3.8 rebounds while 6-8 APU forward Eli Abev averages 7.5 rebounds.
“They have two really, really offensive efficient players,” Musselman said. “Especially Taylor, No. 21, ninth in the NCAA in points per game and 10th in the NCAA in offensive rebounds. Both Taylor and Adams seem to draw fouls and get extra points on the foul line as well.”
Governors coach Figger assisted Frank Martin’s famously physical teams at Kansas State and South Carolina.
a and apparently has spread his mentor’s philosophy to Austin Peay.
“When you look at a team that is 17th in the NCAA in offensive rebounds, you’re probably a pretty physical rebounding team,” Musselman said. “They have a high free throw rate, 16th in the country. And they score the ball, 26th best scoring team in the country. So our transition defense has to be good.”
Joe scored 15 and Chaney scored while former Razorbacks Daniel Gafford, now a Chicago Bull, and Keyshawn Embery-Simpson scored 16 and 14 when last season’s Hogs beat Austin Peay, 76-65 at Walton while Taylor grabbed 10 boards and scored eight points for the Governors.
Musselman noted both teams have had major personnel additions and subtractions since their Dec. 28 game last year.
END OF STORY, LINEUPS FOLLOW)
F-Mason Jones 6-5 Jr. 18.5 pts. 5.5 rebs. OR
F-Jeantal Cylla 6-7 Sr. 2.3 2.3
F-Adrio Bailey 6-6 Sr. 7.3 5.3
G-Jimmy Whitt 6-3 Sr. 14.3 6.0
G-Desi Sills 6-1 So. 9.4 3.4
G-Isaiah Joe 6-5 So. 15.7 4.4
AUSTIN PEAY (3-3)
F-Evan Hinson 6-4 Sr. 3.8 puts 2.6 rebs.
F-Terry Taylor 6-5 Jr. 23.3 9.2
F-Eli Abev 6-8 Jr. 7.0 7.5
G-Antuwan Butler 6-0 So. 8.2 3.3
G-Jordyn Adams 6-3 Fr. 15.5 3.8