Bob Holt is a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Missouri, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and a voter for the Heisman Trophy and AP Top 25 basketball poll. Holt has been awarded Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year twice.
MEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL TEXAS STATE AT ARKANSAS:
Dying by the three: Hogs languish from long distance in loss
Arkansas coach Mike Anderson talks to freshman guard Isaiah Joe during Arkansas' 69-65 loss to Georgia Tech on Wednesday Dec. 19, 2018, at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE -- The University of Arkansas men's basketball team shot too many three-pointers and not enough free throws against Georgia Tech.
It added up to a 69-65 victory for the Yellow Jackets against the Razorbacks on Wednesday night before an announced crowd of 8,132 at Walton Arena.
Arkansas men vs Texas State
WHEN 1 p.m. Saturday
WHERE Walton Arena, Fayetteville
RECORDS Arkansas 7-3; Texas State 10-1
SERIES Arkansas leads 3-0
TELEVISION SEC Network
RADIO Razorback Sports Network
The Razorbacks (7-3), which finished 24 of 63 from the field, hit 10 of 32 three-pointers and 7 of 9 free throws.
"Half our shots were three-pointers, and we're not that type of team," Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson said. "I think we just settled as opposed to attacking the basket.
"That tells me we weren't aggressive against whatever defense they played."
Georgia Tech (6-4) primarily played zone defense and the Razorbacks struggled with getting the ball inside and finding open shots.
"We always work against a zone every day in practice," Anderson said. "But I thought when we didn't make some shots early on, we got a little stagnant in the ball movement."
Arkansas 6-11 sophomore Daniel Gafford hit 6 of 9 shots and scored 14 points, while sophomore guard Mason Jones (17 points) and freshman guard Isaiah Joe (13 points) were a combined 10 of 32, including 8 of 25 on three-pointers.
"We were telegraphing our passes and you can't do that," Anderson said of the struggles against the zone. "I don't know if panic set in or whatever, but the middle was wide open and every time it went to the baseline we got good stuff, and when we threw it in the middle we got good shots.
"We just didn't stay with it. The thing I know is we've got to be an attacking team and start inside-out first. I thought we were outside before we went inside."
Georgia Tech went into its game against Gardner-Webb on Monday night holding opponents to 36.2 percent shooting, but the Bulldogs shot 52.6 percent to win 79-69.
The Yellow Jackets got back to their defensive fundamentals Wednesday night, Georgia Tech Coach Josh Pastner said, as the Razorbacks shot a season-low 38.1 percent.
"We hang our hat on defense," Pastner said. "That's what we do. When we defend at a high level we're a very good basketball team.
"We pride ourself on defense. That's who we are. That's our identity."
Anderson said the Razorbacks didn't play with the same sense of urgency as the Yellow Jackets.
"I thought Georgia Tech played desperate, and I didn't think we did," he said. "They did enough to hang around and ended up walking out of here with a win."
Georgia Tech jumped out to a 15-2 lead as the Razorbacks started 1 of 11 from the field.
By halftime Arkansas was ahead 32-31 and the Razorbacks pushed their lead to 43-38 on a three-pointer by freshman guard Desi Sills with 13:29 left.
Georgia Tech then went on a 10-0 run as Arkansas went 0 of 7 from the field and had 3 turnovers.
"I thought we had ample opportunities to take control of the game," Anderson said.
While Georgia Tech's zone befuddled Arkansas, the Razorbacks had 16 turnovers despite the Yellow Jackets not extending their pressure to the perimeter.
Eight Razorbacks had at least one turnover and Georgia Tech had eight steals.
"Those were turnovers that we just gave them," Anderson said. "Guys not being in the attack mode and not making good passes.
"They weren't pressing us or playing in the passing lane. We've just got to execute a lot better."
Georgia Tech outrebounded Arkansas 43-31 -- 6-9 junior James Banks had 14 points and 14 rebounds for the Yellow Jackets -- and had a 15-2 edge second-chance points.
Yellow Jackets senior 6-0 point guard Jose Alvarado had 20 points, 9 rebounds and 2 steals.
"The game was won in the paint," Anderson said. "They got to the free throw line and we didn't."
Georgia Tech hit 14 of 20 free throws, including 8 of 8 in the final 1:47 when Banks was 2 of 2 to put the Yellow Jackets ahead for good at 61-60 after the game had nine lead changes in the second half.
"You have to give credit to Georgia Tech for coming in here and just playing hard and finding a way to win and making the right plays at the right time," Jones said. "For us, I guess tonight wasn't the night.
"We couldn't get a stop when we needed it. They executed every time they needed a play."
Jones is among nine newcomers for the Razorbacks.
"I just thought at times our inexperience showed," Anderson said. "I thought we got a little panicky there going down the stretch."
Arkansas plays Texas State (10-1) at 1 p.m. Saturday in Walton Arena.
"I think we just have to keep working hard," Jones said. "Just keep fighting it out. We're going to have battles through the season."
Sports on 12/21/2018
Have a comment on this story? Join the discussion or start a new one on the Forums.