Jones with 23 helps Arkansas beat Georgia 70-60
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas guard Mason Jones scored 23 points and added six rebounds to help his team fend off Georgia 70-60 on Tuesday night.
“It feels good to see us win at (home), to see us keep improving as a team,” said Jones, who hit a 3-pointer with 4:20 left that gave the Razorbacks a six-point lead. “As long as we keep learning and as long as we keep fixing our errors, then we’re growing.”
The Razorbacks (12-8, 3-4 Southeastern Conference) were outrebounded 56-32, but Georgia suffered from a season-worst shooting effort, 16 turnovers and 15 of 29 free-throw shooting. The Razorbacks turned the ball over only four times and missed only seven of their 22 free throws.
“Good win. It wasn’t a thing of beauty, but at the same time, in the SEC, games are going to be like that,” said Razorback coach Mike Anderson. “We found a way to defend home court. That was what it was.”
Georgia (10-10, 1-6) tied it at 52 on a William Jackson II 3-pointer with 6:23 remaining, but Arkansas freshman Isaiah Joe, who came into the game leading the SEC with 68 3s, responded with a corner triple that gave the Razorbacks a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
“Coach (Anderson) just told Daniel to come set a screen for me, and I knew if I could hold my man they’d help long enough to where I could find (Isaiah) in the corner,” Jones said of the play. “Knowing (Isaiah), I knew he was going to knock it down. That definitely got us going.”
Georgia entered the game with a renewed sense of purpose after beating Texas on Jan. 26. The Bulldogs opened the first five minutes with an 11-2 run that included a number of hustle plays and offensive rebounds.
Arkansas star forward Daniel Gafford played a role in bringing his team back by hitting his first four free throws, which was a rarity considering he came into the game shooting 56.7 percent from the line. But he headed to the bench in foul trouble and had only four points in 11 minutes when he was subbed in at the 11:40 mark of the second half. He never came off the court after that, and finished with 11 points, five rebounds and four blocks.
″(Getting him back) did a lot,” Jones said. “Knowing Daniel was going to bring a lot of people toward him, that opens up shots for our whole team. Having Daniel on the court and having his energy. it was really good.”
Jalen Harris scored 13 points and took care of the basketball. The point guard didn’t have a turnover in a team-leading 32 minutes.
Nicolas Claxon scored 14 for Georgia, taking advantage when Gafford was out of the game.
“We missed a lot of layups,” coach Tom Crean said. “We missed a lot of threes, certainly, but I’m not concerned about that. We missed a lot of close and easy baskets, and not just because they have a shot-blocker in Daniel Gafford. We had self-inflicted wounds at the basket today.”
Arkansas: The 14 blocked shots were the most for a conference game in program history. Freshman Reggie Chaney led the team with five, while Gafford’s four and Harris’ two were key. Although the Hogs dropped a close road game at Texas Tech on Jan. 26, they’re on a two-game conference winning streak going back to a home victory against Mizzou on Jan. 23.
Georgia: The Bulldogs have lost five straight in the SEC. They came into the game averaging 40.2 rebounds per game to lead the conference, but they significantly eclipsed that average against the Razorbacks with 54. At 1-6 in the SEC, the Bulldogs are one Vanderbilt victory away from tying for last place.
The Razorbacks visit LSU on Feb. 2. The Bulldogs host South Carolina on Feb. 2.