IU at Arkansas was a thrilling finish in Fayetteville November 18th. Mason Jones, who hit a free throw to cap the scoring at 73-72 in a Razorback win, intentionally missed the second with 2.5 seconds to go, only leaving the Hoosiers with a desperation heave at the buzzer. Jones had a solid day at Bud Walton Arena finishing with 11 points, seven assists and no turnovers.
“I like the pressure. Coach Anderson told me to miss the second on purpose and make it a good miss. I didn’t know it would turn into THAT good of a miss. It was a good win,“ Jones said.
An impressive win over a Big 10 Opponent. Fast forward to March and the two teams meet again, this time in the NIT’s second round. Jones, now is a reserve for Arkansas, but he’s ‘like a starter.’ One who scored 18 points in 26 minutes hitting four threes against Providence in Arkansas’ 84-72 win Tuesday at the Dunkin‘ Donuts Center. Arkansas no longer has Daniel Gafford who declared for the NBA Draft prior to the Providence game.
“Obviously their team has changed here in the NIT, but I think that the one thing that goes unnoticed is how versatile they become without him and how random they become with their offense and defense and their pace of play is so fast,“ Indiana Head Coach Archie Miller said.
“Obviously, Gafford is a very, very good player, but like I said, without him, they become way more wide open in terms of the way they attack and shoot the ball from five positions and drive it from five positions. Their motion allows them to really move, and it’s just one of those things where it’s just not a very structured game,“ Miller notes.
Meanwhile, Indiana may not have Romeo Langford tomorrow. A back issue lingers for Langford, who had 22 points, ten rebounds and five assists in the first meeting between the Hogs and Hoosiers this season. They will definitely have Third-Team All-Big 10 Forward Juwan Morgan who had 28 points against St. Francis (PA) Tuesday.
In the interior for Arkansas, Reggie Chaney produced time and again at Providence scoring fourteen points, blocking seven shots.
“He was active, tipping the ball…very active offensively and defensively,“ Arkansas Head Coach Mike Anderson said.
Indiana won nine out of ten after its loss at Arkansas, but it’s an IU team that also lost seven in a row at one point this season. Arkansas had a six-game skid during one stretch.
“They’re more of a complete team. They’re physical and they’ve been tested. We’ve been tested, as well,“ Anderson notes.
Both teams enter the game 18-15. The winner moves on to NIT Quarterfinals. In the Lower Left Bracket, Indiana is the #1 Seed, Arkansas is #5. Wichita State is the six seed while Clemson is the two. Game time for the Shockers and Tigers is 1 p.m. Sunday.
The Hogs and Hoosiers square off at 11 A.M. Saturday.