Razorbacks report:

Comfort level high for Jones

By: Tom Murphy
Published: Saturday, January 19, 2019
Arkansas' Mason Jones gestures during a game against LSU on Saturday, Jan. 12, 2019, in Fayetteville.
Photo by Andy Shupe
Arkansas' Mason Jones gestures during a game against LSU on Saturday, Jan. 12, 2019, in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- University of Arkansas guard Mason Jones, now with four SEC games under his belt, thinks he's finding his groove.

Jones, a transfer from Connors State Community College, has averaged 23.3 points per game in the last three outings heading into today's noon tipoff against Ole Miss in Oxford, Miss.

The 6-5 sophomore ranks second in scoring in conference games with an average of 19.8 points per game, trailing only Auburn's Bryce Brown (20.0).

"The game is starting to slow down for me, and I'm starting to see things different than I saw them [before]," Jones said. "The more I play, the more I can see my shots and the more I can see where I can drive and people are more open."

Jones said he didn't know what to expect in league play, when he opened with nine points in a 73-71 victory at Texas A&M. While his team has lost the past three games, Jones has filled the rim with 30 points against Florida, 22 against LSU and 18 against No. 3 Tennessee.

"I've seen a lot," Jones said of his four-game SEC run. "I've seen teams try to deny me. I've seen teams hold, push, all of that. But it's just like my coaches tell me, just keep cutting, keep moving, try to get to the rack, don't settle for threes."

Jones said he too frequently settled for three-point shots in the first half at Tennessee before driving to the rim more consistently in the second half.

Shuler's foot

Ole Miss point guard Devontae Shuler is likely to be a game-time decision today due to a stress reaction in the top part of his foot. Ole Miss Coach Kermit Davis said he expected Shuler, who was held out of Thursday's practice, to play against the Razorbacks.

Shuler, a 6-2 sophomore from Irmo, S.C., averages 10.3 points and 3.3 assists per game. He also averages 32.9 minutes per game, fourth in the SEC, and the Rebels are trying to formulate a plan on how they would allot minutes if Shuler is unable to go.

"Once he gets warmed up, I don't know," Ole Miss Coach Kermit Davis said Thursday. "We'll look at whether he'll start or not. I'm not sure. But I know he's going to do his part and really work hard and rehab, and he'll be right there in practice every day and try to be in condition."

Senior D.C. Davis has been seeing more practice time with Shuler limited. Freshman Franco Miller, who was expected to be Shuler's backup, is out for the year due to injury, meaning Shuler is the only true point guard on the roster.

"I know this: Devontae Shuler has a good pain tolerance, and he's a tough guy," Kermit Davis said.

3-point Joe

Arkansas marksman Isaiah Joe had a strong response to his first college game without a made three-point shot. Joe connected on 7 of 13 three-pointers and led the Razorbacks with 23 points in their 106-87 loss at No. 3 Tennessee on Tuesday.

Joe leads all NCAA freshmen with 44.3 percent three-point shooting, and he's second with 3.63 made threes per game. His three-point accuracy is second in the SEC behind Missouri's Mark Smith (47 percent).

Joe, a Fort Smith Northside graduate, leads SEC freshmen with 14.7 point per game, and he is second with 1.6 steals per game.

Series story

Arkansas leads the series against Ole Miss by a 47-32 margin.

The Rebels lead 19-8 in games played in Oxford, Miss., and the series is tied 1-1 in games at The Pavilion at Ole Miss, which opened on Jan. 7, 2016.

Back in the day

Ole Miss Coach Kermit Davis' coaching history extends way back to 1988, when he guided Idaho to back-to-back Big Sky Conference titles, followed by a brief, messy season at Texas A&M.

The Aggies went 8-21 in 1990-91 under Davis, including a 2-14 Southwest Conference record in their first season after Shelby Metcalf's departure.

Davis resigned after the season amid an NCAA investigation of the Aggies, which resulted in Davis receiving a two-year NCAA show cause penalty.

Arkansas routed Texas A&M three times that season, scoring more than 100 points in each game. The Razorbacks won 113-88 at Barnhill Arena on Jan. 23, 111-72 in College Station, Texas, on Feb. 23, and 108-61 at the SWC Tournament in Dallas on March 8. The average score for the three games was 111-74.

'Fight' game

Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson and his players continually referenced their ability to keep up the fight in the second half of Tuesday's 106-87 loss at No. 3 Tennessee.

Guard Mason Jones said the Hogs better come with the same mindset against Ole Miss.

"We can't come out slow," Jones said. "We know we just have to continue to fight. That's what I love about that game, too, we continued to fight.

"We were down by like 20 in that game, but one huddle Dan [Gafford] said, 'Keep fighting. We have to keep fighting.' The fight for our team was good that game, so moving forward we don't have to worry about fight. We just have to worry about coming out strong."

100-point data

The last four teams to score 100-plus points on the Razorbacks were all ranked in The Associated Press Top 25 at the time, per HogStats.com, including No. 3 Tennessee's 106-87 victory Tuesday.

The previous three occurrences came in a 101-70 loss at No. 2 Kentucky on Jan. 23, 2010; a 108-77 setback against No. 1 North Carolina at the NCAA Raleigh Regional on March 23, 2008; and a 109-94 loss at No. 7 Alabama on Jan. 30, 2002.

Sports on 01/19/2019

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