Jackson’s 23 points lifts Akron past Arkansas 88-80
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — Antino Jackson had only one scholarship offer out of high school, leaving the 5-foot-11 Akron guard with plenty to prove in his collegiate career.
The point guard and the rest of his teammates once again played like they belong with just about anyone in an 88-80 win at Arkansas on Wednesday night.
Jackson scored a career-high 23 points as the Zips (3-0) led wire to wire in earning their second win over an SEC school in as many seasons. Akron — which has won at least 21 games in 10 straight seasons — now has three wins over Power 5 schools in its last two seasons, including victories over USC and South Carolina last year.
“The one thing I know is we’re big and strong enough to play with the big boys, which most mid-majors aren’t,” Akron coach Keith Dambrot said. ”... We have more experience than they do, really.”
It was Jackson, whose previous career high was 17 points against Miami (Ohio) last season, who helped the Zips hold off several second-half runs by the Razorbacks (1-1).
The sophomore scored 13 of his points in the second half, including a critical 3-point play to put Akron up 83-76 late in the game, and he finished 8 of 18 from the field.
“This is when I think I play my best basketball, against top opponents,” Jackson said. “I think it just gets me pumped up to play.”
The loss ends a 25-game home winning streak against nonconference teams for Arkansas, which is now 40-2 under coach Mike Anderson at home in nonconference play.
Anthlon Bell led the Razorbacks with 23 points, while Moses Kingsley had 17 and Dusty Hannahs 16, but an inexperienced Arkansas team fell behind 7-0 to open the game trailed by as many as 13 points in the first half while falling behind 37-29 at halftime.
“I thought we came out on our heels,” Anderson said. ”... Right when the game started, we were on the back of our heels and I didn’t see that intensity, especially defensively.”
Arkansas trailed 49-39 early in the second half, having never led after falling behind 7-0 to start the game.
Bell and Hannahs, however, brought the new-look Razorbacks — having lost six of their top seven scorers from last season’s Southeastern Conference runner-up team — back to within 49-45 after back-to-back 3-pointers.
Trey Thomson then scored inside to extend the Arkansas run to 8-0 and close the lead to 49-47, but the Razorbacks followed by missing on several chances at tying the game or taking the lead.
Jackson took advantage of Arkansas’ momentum stall, scoring Akron’s next 8 straight points. Jake Kretzer then added a pair of free throws to cap a 10-2 run and put the Zips back up 59-49.
Arkansas once again closed to within 4 points at 78-74 after a 3-pointer by Bell, but that was as close as the Razorbacks would come against the Zips — who finished 13 of 28 on 3-pointers and shot 50.9 percent (29 of 59) from the field.
“I just felt like a couple of times the crowd got into it,” Hannahs said. ”... That’s a great team we just lost to, but we should have handled our business on our home court.”
Akron: Without several players because of injuries, Jackson played 39 minutes and he also finished by matching his career best with seven assists.
Arkansas: The Razorbacks hit 8 of 15 3-pointers in their season-opening win over Southern, but they struggled from the outside on Wednesday — finishing 6 of 20 from behind the arc. Hannahs, who it five 3-pointers in his Arkansas debut, was 1 of 4 on 3-pointers in the loss.
Reggie McAdams added 18 points for Akron, which had five players score in double figures. Johnson had 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting, while Kwan Cheatham Jr., had 12 and Kretzer 11.
Akron is at Villanova on Sunday.
Arkansas hosts Charleston Southern on Friday night.