Junior guard Mason Jones didn’t stay perfect at the free throw line Monday night in Atlanta, but he was flawless on a step-back, deep-NBA-range 3-pointer that banked in with 0:00.1 remaining in overtime to send Arkansas to the winner’s circle, 62-61, over host Georgia Tech in another defensive-grind game from which the Razorbacks emerged unbeaten.
Jones scored Arkansas’s final basket in regulation with 5:57 remaining — part of his personal 5-point possession that included two made technical-foul free throws — and he added two more free throws at 2:22 as he accounted for the Hogs final 7 points in regulation before his dagger to close out the game in overtime. The Yellow Jackets’ scored their only overtime points on a James Banks lay-in with 21 seconds left that gave Tech a 61-59 lead, setting the stage for Jones’s game-winning triple that proved to be the Hogs’ only points in the extra period.
“Ah, it was a good night,” said Jones, who finished with a game-high 24 points (including the Hogs’ final 10 points) to go with 6 rebounds, 4 steals, and 3 assists. “You know we had to go to overtime for the extra minutes, so we knew we wanted to grind hard on defense and continue to try to make a shot. Zai (Isaiah Joe) passed me the ball and I knew there was 3 seconds left, so I had to do what I had to do. And God blessed me with a bank 3-pointer.”
The final possession: Jones dribbled up-court, passed to Joe who was immediately double-teamed, then Joe passed back out to near the mid-court line to Jones, who received the pass at 0:05, drove toward the right wing, and launched his bomb with 1.8 seconds left on the game clock that founds its way off the window and through the basket. Both teams struggled in the extra period, combining for 0-of-8 shooting, 0-of-1 free throws, and 5 turnovers before Banks and Jones traded baskets in the final 21 seconds.
The win moved Arkansas to 6-0 on the season, and Eric Musselman became only the second first-year head coach in Razorbacks history to start 6-0 (Eugene Lambert, 1942-43). It was Arkansas’s first win over the Yellow Jackets since 1961, halting a five-game losing streak against Tech in the series. And, it was the Hogs’ first road win over an ACC opponent in nearly 21 years.
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