Tom Murphy is a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of Louisiana Tech University, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and voter for the Heisman Trophy and AP Top 25 football poll.
Razorbacks’ freshmen pour it on
Arkansas forward Jessica Jackson tied a career-high with 22 points Sunday at Missouri. The Razorbacks won 69-66.
FAYETTEVILLE - Arkansas’ freshmen served up a pre-Christmas highlight reel of big plays as the Razorbacks remained unbeaten Friday night with a 79-53 victory against Tennessee Tech.
McKenzie Adams and Jessica Jackson scored 18 points each, fellow freshman Kelsey Brooks added 13 points and Jackson added 11 rebounds as the Razorbacks improved to 12-0 for the third time in seven seasons under Coach Tom Collen.
“Undefeated is great,” Collen said. “You sure didn’t want to stub your toe going into Christmas time after we got off to such a great start.”
Arkansas made 10 of 17 three-point shots for 58.8 percent, led by Adams’ 5-of-7 performance. The Razorbacks made 28 of 52 shots (53.8 percent) and held Tennessee Tech (3-9) to 43.1 percent.
“I learned a long time ago from a guy named Hubie Brown that shooting overcomes a multitude of sins in this game, and those gals can shoot that rock,” Tennessee Tech Coach Jim Davis said.
Adams has converted 14 of 19 three-pointers in her past five games.
“We take whatever comes to us, and when we move the ball they come easy,” Adams said.
“When she’s hitting it opens up a lot more players because they can’t sag on two people,” Jackson said. “They have to open it up and guard everyone harder once she hits them.”
Adams made a pair of three-pointers in the opening minute for a 6-0 Arkansas lead, then the Razorbacks pulled away with a 15-4 surge in which Brooks contributed seven points.
Jackson, whose previous high in rebounds was nine, won the Razorbacks a pizza party with her first game of more than 10 rebounds, as promised by Collen.
“I’ve been pleading with her to get 10 rebounds in a game the whole season,” Collen said. “We kind of expected her to come in and the one thing we thought she would do for us is rebound.”
Jackson powered through contact in the second half, converting 2 of 3 opportunities for three-point plays.
“She’s gotten better at that,” Adams said. “We’ve all gotten better at it. I think that’s really important because in the SEC everyone is so much stronger and more physical and we have to get used to that.”
Tennessee Tech, which lost its fifth consecutive game, was led by 12 points from T’keyah Williams and 11 from Diamond Henderson.
Calli Berna had eight of Arkansas’ 16 assists, and Brooks added three steals.
The Razorbacks were sloppier than normal with the ball, committing 18 turnovers and forcing 22 turnovers from the Golden Eagles.
Arkansas, showing only a little bit of rust from its nine game break for finals, will have a full week off before returning from Christmas break with a Dec. 28 home game against Mississippi Valley State as the opening half of a doubleheader with the Razorbacks men’s team.
Sports, Pages 24 on 12/21/2013