Ver­sa­tile Jones giv­ing Hoop Hogs big boost

The Saline Courier - - SPORTS - By Nate Allen Ra­zor­backs Re­port

FAYET­TEVILLE - Ma­son Jones’ ca­reer-high 32 points doesn’t sum his game pac­ing Arkansas’ 91-43 bas­ket­ball sea­son-open­ing rout of the Rice Owls Tues­day night at Wal­ton Arena.

Just call it a big tip of the Jones’ ice­berg that ti­tan­i­cally sunk the Owls.

Jones also grabbed seven re­bounds made five steals and dished three as­sists, and like wine and cheese plates played mu­tual com­ple­ments with team­mate Isa­iah Joe, the Fort Smith North­side alum scor­ing 24 points with seven as­sists and five re­bounds.

Oh, and as a 6-5 guard

on a very small team, sec­ond year ju­nior trans­fer Jones played a mean power for­ward, Arkansas first-year Coach Eric Mus­sel­man said.

“You know, you re­ally have to give Ma­son a lot of credit,” Mus­sel­man said. “For his whole ca­reer, he’s been a 3 or a 2, small for­ward/off-guard. We are ask­ing him to play power for­ward. It’s no se­cret, that’s what he played the whole game (vs. Rice), and he ac­cepted that.”

The team’s lack of size, smaller than ever Tues­day night with 6-8 sopho­more Reg­gie Chaney sus­pended in­def­i­nitely, gives Mus­sel­man no choice.

“We have a guard-laden ros­ter and we need him to play the power for­ward spot,” Mus­sel­man said.

“But you know what, when he plays power for­ward he’s got his great­est mis­match. You saw that with a ca­reer high.”

With only eight schol­ar­ship play­ers suit­ing up Tues­day, Mus­sel­man said

Joe, a 6-5 shoot­ing guard, also played dif­fer­ent po­si­tions Tues­day.

“I looked up at one point and Isa­iah Joe was at the power for­ward spot and to­wards the end of the game his last seg­ment he was play­ing point guard,” Mus­sel­man said. “So he went any­where from the 1 (point guard) to the 4 (power for­ward). From a ver­sa­til­ity stand­point our guys have done a re­ally good job of learn­ing mul­ti­ple po­si­tions.”

Mus­sel­man is 2-deep at point guard with grad­u­ate trans­fer Jimmy Whitt and re­turn­ing ju­nior Jalen Har­ris, but be­tween po­ten­tial foul trou­ble and fa­tigue with a short ros­ter be­lieves he has to have an­other ready to run the point and that Joe could do it.

“Early on, af­ter spend­ing a first week or two with the team, I kind of felt like Isa­iah could play some point guard,” Mus­sel­man said. “He’s got good size, he can run pick and roll and see over de­fend­ers, and he’s got a great bas­ket­ball IQ. I don’t know how much he’ll play that point, but I cer­tainly want the ball in his hands and be a lit­tle bit more of a play­maker in­stead of just a spot-up shooter.”

What­ever their po­si­tions Joe and Jones have meshed well.

“Those guys have been phe­nom­e­nal play­ing to­gether,” Mus­sel­man said. “Ob­vi­ously, with the makeup of our team, we are go­ing to need those guys on the floor a lot.”

Be­cause of undis­closed in­juries, Arkansas women’s bas­ket­ball Coach Mike

Neigh­bors, al­ready with out se­nior guard Jai­lyn Ma­son re­hab­bing a foot in­jury, may be mi­nus se­nior 6-1 three-year let­ter­ing start­ing cen­ter Kiara Williams and 6-3 fresh­man Desti­nee Oberg in

his Ra­zor­backs’ Fri­day sea­son-opener against the Uni­ver­sity of New Or­leans Pri­va­teers.

Open­ing with their an­nual Ele­men­tary Day bus­ing in ele­men­tary stu­dents from through­out north­west Arkansas, the Ra­zor­backs and Pri­va­teers, 0-1 off los­ing 83-49 Tues­day at LSU, tip off at 10:30 a.m Fri­day at Wal­ton Arena.

“Kiara and Desti­nee, our size,” Neigh­bors said.

What do you if you don’t have them?

“Punt,” Neigh­bors replied be­fore the Ra­zor­backs prac­ticed Wednes­day. “Ob­vi­ously you have to fo­cus on what you do well. We’ve played small but we’ll have to play in­cred­i­bly small with­out two of our big­gest ones.”

Of­fen­sively what Neigh­bors’ Ra­zor­backs do best is score with ALL-SEC ju­nior Chelsea Dungee and ju­nior trans­fer Am­ber Ramirez. Dungee scored 26 and 31 points, and ju­nior Am­ber Ramirez, 23 points and 15 points, in Arkansas’ 97-67 and 77-62 ex­hi­bi­tion vic­to­ries over Pitts­burg State and Ok­la­homa City Uni­ver­sity.

CRAVEN WHITLOW/NATE Allen Sports Ser­vice

Arkansas ju­nior Ma­son Jones com­petes in a 91-43 rout over the Rice Owls this past Tues­day at Bud Wal­ton Arena. Jones scored a ca­reer-high 32 points in the win while the 6-5 guard played power for­ward prac­ti­cally all game.

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