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. Murphy was the 2017 Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year.
Joe's scoring scintillates during second halves
Arkansas guard Isaiah Joe celebrates during the first half of the Razorbacks' game against Austin Peay in Bud Walton Arena.
FAYETTEVILLE -- By Joe, the second halves have it.
University of Arkansas guard Isaiah Joe has burnished his reputation as a second-half stalwart this year by lighting it up after halftime on a consistent basis.
Second halves by Joe
Arkansas guard Isaiah Joe has scored more in the second half than the first half in 12 of 15 games this season, including the past seven in a row. A look at Joe’s first and second half shooting and scoring numbers this season:
;First Half;;;Second Half;;;
In 12 of 15 games for the Razorbacks (13-2, 2-1 SEC), Joe has scored more in the second half than in the first. The only three games in which Joe's first halves produced bigger scoring came during a four-game stretch starting in late November. Those games were against South Dakota, Georgia Tech and Austin Peay.
Otherwise, the second half is Joe's happy time.
The sophomore from Fort Smith will take that trend into Wednesday's home game at 7:30 p.m. against Vanderbilt (8-7, 0-2 SEC).
Joe has scored 187 of his 273 points (68.5%) in the second halves (and two overtimes) of games. He's hitting 39.5% of his three-point attempts in the second half compared to 30.4% in the first half.
Overall, Joe is a 33% shooter in the first half, and a 43% shooter in the second half and overtime.
First-year Arkansas Coach Eric Musselman thinks the disparity in production has to do with Joe's on-court persona.
"I think it's because he's such an unselfish player, and I think he lets his teammates get involved, and I think for the most part we've kind of been a second half team as well," Musselman said Monday.
Joe's second-half scoring trends have been exaggerated in recent weeks.
He's scored in double figures in the second halves of each of the past seven games, highlighted by his 26-point explosion as Arkansas rallied from a 49-38 deficit to down Ole Miss 76-72 in Oxford, Miss., on Saturday. Joe made 5 of 7 three-point tries, went 8 of 10 from the floor and 5 of 5 from the free-throw line in the second half to spearhead the Hogs' big comeback.
For the game, Joe knocked down 11 of 18 shots from the floor, 7 of 13 from three-point range and tied his career high with 34 points.
In the past seven games, Joe has scored 109 points in the second halves, an average of 15.6 per second half. In the first halves of those games, the 6-5, 167-pounder has scored 38 points, an average of 5.4 per game, with a high of 9 points during a 20-point outing in a 98-79 win over Tulsa.
Musselman said there is more opportunity for the Arkansas role players to produce scoring in the first halves.
"From an X's and O's standpoint, we go to our scorers more in the second half," Musselman said. "First half, there's a lot of play calls of stuff that are run where five guys are touching the ball, and we have a little bit more movement than the last 10 minutes of the game.
"We have specific sets with different wrinkles where we're actually dictating moreso to who's taking those shots or who has the ball in their hands to make decisions."
Junior guard Mason Jones helped facilitate Joe's scoring against Ole Miss, as he has much of the season.
"When he has it going like that, as a team, we're just going to keep feeding him," guard Jimmy Whitt said of Joe's hot shooting performance against the Rebels. "Keep getting him the ball and letting him make plays."
Ole Miss Coach Kermit Davis said his team did a poor job of closing out on Joe on several occasions. The Rebels' scouting report called for tight coverage of Joe to give him little space, but Joe has a quick trigger and good height on his long-range jumper.
"We relaxed and just didn't get to him," Davis said. "Fouled him one time [on a made three]. It's a unique talent when you can make them that deep."
Sports on 01/14/2020
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