'Everyday Joe' best of week in SEC

By: Bob Holt
Published: Tuesday, December 4, 2018
Arkansas Florida International Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018, during the second half of play in Bud Walton Arena. Visit nwadg.com/photos to see more photographs from the game.
Photo by Andy Shupe
Arkansas Florida International Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018, during the second half of play in Bud Walton Arena. Visit nwadg.com/photos to see more photographs from the game.

FAYETTEVILLE -- University of Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson doesn't expect Isaiah Joe to change his approach after being named SEC player of the week Monday.

Joe, a 6-5 guard from Fort Smith Northside who scored 34 points in the Razorbacks' 121-89 victory over Florida International on Saturday, is the second Arkansas freshman to win the SEC award along with Courtney Fortson on Dec. 15, 2009.

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"He's 'Everyday Joe,' " Anderson said. "He just does what he's supposed to do each and every day. Come out and work hard.

"He's grounded -- and I go back to his upbringing, and even as he's gotten here. He just comes in with his lunch pail every day ready to come to work."

Along with becoming the 46th Razorback to score 30 or more points, Joe had 3 assists, 2 rebounds, 2 steals and 1 turnover in 28 minutes against FIU.

"He played an all-round game," Anderson said. "Of course, you draw raves because of your scoring. Our guys did a good job of finding him, and he did a great job of knocking shots down. Kudos to him.

"That's what happens when you win. The individual awards come in. Congratulations to him. Just one game, and I'm happy for him."

Bobby Portis set Arkansas' freshman record with 35 points against Alabama during the 2013-14 season. Joe tied Razorbacks assistant coach Scotty Thurman for the second-most points scored by a freshman. Thurman scored 34 points twice during the 1992-1993 season against Missouri and Ole Miss.

"I'm excited for Isaiah," Thurman said of Joe's 34-point game. "It couldn't happen for a better young man. I think he's someone who's definitely going to be a pillar in this program for four years. He's a great kid."

Thurman, an All-SEC forward for the Razorbacks from the 1992-93 through 1994-95 seasons, said Joe has a similar style.

"He reminds me a lot of myself, just from the sense of being able to shoot the ball and from his build," said Thurman, who is 6-6. "I think we're built very similar.

"He may be thinner than I was, but I think having to come out and prove something every day, that's the kind of player I was and the kind of player he is.

"He wants to prove that he's a big-time player, and he works like he wants to be a big-time player."

Joe hit 11 of 14 shots against FIU, including 10 of 13 three-pointers. His three-point baskets are tied for the third most by a Razorback with Rotnei Clarke (East Tennessee State in 2008-2009) and Pat Bradley (North Texas 1998-1999).

Clarke holds the Arkansas record with 13 three-pointers against Alcorn State to open the 2009-2010 season. Al Dillard is second with 12 against Delaware State during the 1993-1994 season.

Joe's 76.4 percent on three-pointers tied an SEC record he shares with Alabama's John Petty, who hit 10 of 13 against Alabama A&M last season.

"I thought Isaiah played with a lot of confidence," Thurman said. "I think he's starting to adjust to the college game in terms of when people try to run him off the [three-point] line or crowd him, he's able to utilize fakes and jab steps and different things to get himself in a spot where he can take an uncontested shot where his percentages will go up."

In the three games prior to playing FIU, Joe shot 26.9 percent (7 of 26) on three-pointers against Indiana, Montana State and Texas-Arlington.

"He had an opportunity to sit down and watch some film and study some things and realize the type of shots he was taking versus the ones he's capable of getting," Thurman said. "Some of the looks are the same, but it's a little bit different the way people scout you in college.

"I just think guys were closing out on him hard. It's a little bit different than a high school close out to a high-major Division I close out.

"He used good footwork in terms of being able to separate and get his shot off. He's done a good job of making the necessary adjustments to continue to develop."

Joe, whose previous scoring high this season was 17 points in the opener against Texas, is averaging 16.3 ppg to rank second among the Razorbacks behind 6-11 sophomore Daniel Gafford at 19.8. He's averaging 2.7 rebounds, leads the team with 10 steals and is third with 16 assists behind Jalen Harris (39) and Mason Jones (18).

"I think fundamentally he's sound," Anderson said. "He can handle the basketball. He can play the point position. I'm comfortable with him bringing the ball up the floor.

"Obviously, he knows how to come off screens. Now he's learning how to get down the floor and get lost in transition because people are paying a lot of attention to Daniel.

"He gives it up, makes nice passes. He doesn't have to try to go get the game. That's the beauty of it. Even when you watched him the other night, he did not have to go get it. It just came to him, and he took the good shots and he was making them.

"If you're not making them, then you do other things and that's a mark of a good player. I'm just glad he's playing for us."

Sports on 12/04/2018

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