FAYETTEVILLE – Even with their Breakfast Club out to first-half lunch, the Arkansas Razorbacks still overwhelmed the Texas Southern University Tigers, 82-51 Tuesday night at Walton Arena.
Defense and inside carried Arkansas in Tuesday’s 37-24 first half when Arkansas couldn’t buy a 3-point shot. Isaiah Joe took it from there. The sophomore guard out of Fort Smith Northside hit six second-half threes and scored 29 of his game-leading 33 points in the second half. Joe hit 6 of 13 treys for the game while his teammates misfired 0 for 13.
On first-year Arkansas coach Eric Musselman’s 55th birthday the Razorbacks improved to 4-0 going into Friday’s 8 p.m. SEC Network televised game against South Dakota at Walton Arena. TSU fell to 0-4.
The Breakfast Club, called such by several Razorbacks who in the summer would come pre-dawn to the Eddie Sutton Practice Court to work on their shooting, didn’t appear to help the Hogs 3-point shooting with a horrendous 0 for 14 on first half treys. The skein was snapped by Joe, 0 for 5 on first half treys nailing a trey at 19:28 for the second half’s first points. “That first half we were just so bad shooting the three ball,” Musselman said. “It’s like there was a lid on the basket. Obviously he (Joe) the only one that hit one (a three) for us tonight, but it opened up the floor for everybody else.” Joe’s treys were frosting on Arkansas’ cakewalk with the Hogs up 37-24 at half even while not being served by treys. Guards Jimmy Whitt, 11 first-half points, and Desi Sills, eight first-half points, inside carried the Hogs offensively before Joe caught fire in the second half.
For the game graduate transfer point guard Whitt, never attempting a trey, double-doubled scoring 17 points with 10 rebounds while Sills tallied 10 points. “I thought Jimmy Whitt’s mid-range game was phenomenal,” Musselman said. “Our point guards (Whitt and Jalen Harris) got 15 rebounds between them, which is huge for us. At that point guard position for those two guys to combined for 15 boards and Jimmy gets a double-double.”
Point guard Tyrik Armstrong led TSU with 15 helping the Tigers become Arkansas’ first of four foes to surpass 46 points. Yielding just 51 still shows good defense.“Walking out the door my wife said, “Don’t let them score more than 55,” Musselman said. “Or if they do, don’t come home.” So … We kept them under 55.”
Sophomore letterman 6-8 forward Reggie Chaney, his disciplinary suspension lifted by Musselman after three games, immediately helped defensively with three first-half steals and four for the game. Senior starting forward Adrio Bailey blocked a career high five shots. Joe led Arkansas thievery among TSU’s 24 turnovers with five steals.“I told some of the coaches that everyone talks about Isaiah’s offense, but in reality, his man hardly ever scores, hardly ever,” Musselman said. “In the four games that I have been a part of coaching Isaiah, he has great anticipation. Mason (Jones has great anticipation, J5 (Harris) has really good quickness so kind of a calling card for us is going to have to be disruption defense.”
For the game on turnovers, Arkansas outscored former LSU coach Johnny Jones’ TSU Tigers, 28-6. A spree of first-half threes netted nothing but bricks and airballs until TSU point guard Armstrong connected at 1:47 of the first half that Arkansas led, 37-24 at intermission. TSU had missed five threes before Armstrong’s trey. That seemed the epitome of efficiency compared to Arkansas’ 0 for 14 first-half futility shooting threes.
Musselman maintains defense can carry a team even when its shots don’t fall. The Razorbacks proved him right. They outscored TSU, 12-2 on first-half turnovers while forcing 12 TSU first-half miscues and committing six. Chaney accounted for three of Arkansas’ seven first-half steals while Bailey blocked four first-half shots.
While 0 for 14 on treys, Arkansas shot 15 of 19 inside the arc on dunks, layups and short jumpers. Other than one TSU 4-3 lead, Arkansas led the entire half peaking at 28-10. Joe personally shot it wide open in the second half. Even his birthday couldn’t spare Musselman getting his first technical foul as Arkansas’ coach.“ I’ve said a lot worse, but it is what it is,” Musselman said.
Photos curtesy of Craven Whitlow
CW3, Sports Action