Scottie Bordelon is a reporter for WholeHogSports.com. A graduate of the University of Arkansas, Bordelon previously covered high school sports for the Times Record in Fort Smith and the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in Springdale. He is a member of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association and Football Writers Association of America, and was awarded 2022 Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year.
'He was unstoppable': Joe lights up FIU for 34
Arkansas guard Isaiah Joe (1) takes a 3-point shot over Florida International forward Devon Andrews (10) 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 — If Daniel Gafford describes you as 'unstoppable' then you're doing something right – probably exceptionally well.
That was the sophomore's take on freshman sharpshooter Isaiah Joe's night in a 121-89 win over Florida International on Saturday. The former Fort Smith Northside star torched the Panthers for 10 3-pointers and a career-high 34 points on just 14 shots.
"What he did is basically what he was recruited to do," Gafford said with Joe sitting to his left in the Bud Walton Arena interview room. "He came up here and he shot the ball. He was unstoppable from the 3 and basically whatever he wanted he got tonight, so props to him."
Joe's 10 triples set a single-game freshman record and helped push him within one point of tying Bobby Portis' freshman scoring mark of 35 points set in 2014 against Alabama. When asked the last time he fell into a similar shooting groove, Joe didn't have to think back very far.
"Probably the Red-White game," he said. "I felt like I couldn’t miss anything."
Joe's night began innocently enough. In fact, he misfired on two of his first three 3-point attempts. He then reeled off six consecutive makes – four to end the first half and his first two looks out of halftime.
Late in the first half, Joe buried three 3s in a span of three minutes, five seconds to extend what was a four-point Arkansas lead to 16. With less than 10 minutes to play and the Razorbacks in firm control, Joe connected on three more 3-pointers and a layup to put Arkansas up 30.
Deservedly so, Joe exited the game for the final time to a standing ovation.
"As a shooter you’re always taught to shoot the ball no matter what," Joe said. "You have those bad nights, but you can never get out of those bad nights if you don’t shoot the ball. I was just fortunate my teammates kept finding me for those open looks and I was able to knock them down."
Entering Saturday's game, Joe had made just 4 of his last 15 from distance and his previous four games included a pair of off shooting nights against Indiana and Montana State in which he shot 5 of 21 from 3-point range. FIU coach Jeremy Ballard said he and his staff were very impressed with Joe leading into the game and knew he was an electric shooter.
"Our scouting report was what he did tonight," Ballard added. "He’s got incredible shot fakes, steps to the side and make 3s. We knew there was a chance he could get 3s the way that we play, but there were a lot of broken assignments where we gave him too many open looks.
"You give that kind of caliber player open looks and he sees that ball go in, you can be in for a long night and we were certainly in for a long night."
Not only is Joe the ninth Arkansas player to score 30-plus points under Mike Anderson and the first to do so in a nonconference game since Marshawn Powell in 2012, he is the first player from a Power 5 conference to hit ten 3-pointers in a game this season.
“I think he is grounded, I think he is well-rounded and I think his parents have done an excellent job with him,” Anderson said. “He wants to be a great player and he works at it. He plays within himself. He is starting to show more and more of the things that he can do.
“He is well-rounded. I think he is humble. So the two words I always talk about is he is humble and hungry. He is growing and he is getting better. He is maturing and we need that. We need him to grow up for this basketball team.”
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