Bob Holt is a sports reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Missouri, he sits on the board of directors for the U.S. Basketball Writers Association, is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and a voter for the Heisman Trophy and AP Top 25 basketball poll. He has been awarded Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year four times and has been inducted to the Arkansas Sportscasters and Sportswriters Hall of Fame.
Old Dominion matchup has ties to one of Hogs' greatest wins
Old Dominion head coach Jeff Jones reacts on the bench during the first half of a first round men's college basketball game against Purdue in the NCAA Tournament, Thursday, March 21, 2019, in Hartford, Conn. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
FAYETTEVILLE — The University of Arkansas basketball team is playing Old Dominion for the first time tonight, but Monarchs Coach Jeff Jones has some history against the Razorbacks.
Jones, in his 11th season as Old Dominion’s coach, was Virginia’s coach when defending national champion Arkansas beat the Cavaliers 68-61 in the 1995 NCAA Midwest Regional final at Kemper Arena in Kansas City, Mo., to go back to the Final Four.
Jones, who played point guard at Virginia, also was an assistant at his alma mater to Coach Terry Holland for five other Arkansas-Virginia games, including a 1984 NCAA Tournament matchup when the Cavaliers beat the Razorbacks 53-51 in overtime 1984 in East Rutherford, N.J.
Jones was on the visiting bench at Barnhill Arena when Arkansas beat Virginia 66-62 during the 1987-88 season and at the Pine Bluff Convention Center the previous season for the Cavaliers’ 78-66 victory over the Razorbacks. He also was with Virginia for victories over Arkansas in Charlottesville, Va., during the 1984-85 and 1988-89 seasons.
More from WholeHogSports: How to watch, listen to Arkansas-Old Dominion
In his 32nd season as a head coach at Virginia, American and Old Dominion, Jones has a 538-413 record with eight NCAA Tournament appearances — most recently with the Monarchs in 2019 — and the 1992 NIT championship at Virginia.
“He does a great job,” Arkansas Coach Eric Musselman said. “Really, really good Xs and Os coach. Got a ton of experience.”
The No. 14 Razorbacks have a quick turnaround for tonight’s game at Walton Arena, but it’s even quicker for the Monarchs.
Arkansas (2-0) is playing its second game in four days after beating Gardner-Webb 86-68 on Friday night at Walton Arena.
Old Dominion (1-1) is playing its second game in three days after losing at Ball State 73-68 on Saturday in Muncie, Ind.
Chaunce Jenkins, a 6-4 junior guard, led Old Dominion with 20 points at Ball State. Freshman guard Vasean Allette, 6-3, scored 15 points and 6-5 senior guard Tyrone Williams had 11 points and 10 rebounds off the bench.
Ball State hit 7 of 9 free throws in the last 27 seconds to hang for the victory after Old Dominion rallied from a 20-10 deficit to take a 63-61 lead.
“Plenty of lessons we need to learn from this,” Jones said in a story posted on Old Dominion’s website. “We can’t get our heads down as it’s no fun to lose, but to regroup and fight back the way we did after getting punched in the face in the beginning was good.”
Jenkins, in his second season at Old Dominion after transferring from Wichita State, is averaging 18.0 points and has hit 3 of 7 three-pointers.
Williams, a transfer from Oregon, is averaging 13.0 points and 8.0 rebounds.
The Monarchs, 19-12 last season, were picked in a preseason coaches’ poll to finish third in the Sun Belt Conference behind James Madison and Appalachian State.
“They play small. They play really fast,” Musselman said. “Transition defense is going to be really, really important.
“[Identifying] the ball as quick as possible will be extremely important. Keeping the dribble-drive in front of us is going to be the key to the game.
“We can’t give up dribble-drive, straight-line drives because they are really good attackers off the bounce.”
Musselman said after the Gardner-Webb game he already had watched tape of Old Dominion’s 71-57 victory over Virginia Wesleyan in the season opener and he would do more scouting after attending the Arkansas-Auburn football game on Saturday.
Members of the Arkansas staff, he said, would watch the Old Dominion-Ball State game.
“Some staff members 1000% will be watching the game live and will be expected to have a scouting report as soon as the final buzzer is up,” Musselman said. “Our staff has done a great job, they really have. Michael [Musselman] is really focused on personnel. Todd Lee has done a great job of the sets the other team runs. [Anthony] Ruta does a great job of watching the other team’s defense, and then Coach [Keith] Smart has done a great job of overseeing all of it with thoughts.
“As soon as the football game is over I will not be hanging out watching other football games. I’ll be watching Old Dominion’s tape.”
Musselman said Arkansas’ players had an initial scouting report on Old Dominion after Friday night’s game with a statistical analysis.
“They’ll get another [scouting report Saturday] and they’ll get our final one on Sunday,” Musselman said. “So they’ll get three different ones before Sunday afternoon.”
Arkansas forward Trevon Brazile, who has come back from knee surgery after missing all but the first nine games last season, said he’s glad the Razorbacks are playing their third game in eight days.
“Personally, I’m excited,” Brazile said after having 10 points, 7 rebounds and 5 blocked shots against Gardner-Webb. “I haven’t been able to play games for almost close to a year. I don’t care when that is, I’m just excited to go out there.”
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