The Razorback Men’s Basketball team opened up their regular season play and the Musselman-era debut Tuesday night against Rice University in Bud Walton Arena.
Rice’s record last year (13-19 8-10) gave Arkansas the 17-point favorite to win.
Mason Jones started out the game behind the arc with two three-pointers sending the home crowd into a frenzy. Rice responded with an eight-point run, the only moment that they would make it look like the Razorbacks had a ballgame on their hands.
Jones played with lots of flair as he went 12-18 and averaged 50% behind the for the night. He set a career-high 32 points, five steals and seven rebounds.
“You really have to give Mason a lot of credit, we’re asking him to play power forward,” Coach Musselman said. “Instead of ‘hey, I don’t want to do that,’ it gave him a mismatch and he ended up with a career-high.”
Isaiah Joe also had a stellar performance, including a career-high seven assists, scoring a total of 24 points and grabbing five rebounds.
“It felt good to get the first game out of the way,” Joe said. “We played our game, created space and played good defense.”
The team had a high-quality defensive game as well, causing Rice to commit three shot-clock violations within the 27 turnovers the Razorbacks created. The team also held Rice to only two three-pointers.
Musselman’s biggest concern for this upcoming season was the rebound game, considering the team’s overall height. That concern did not look like a problem throughout the game as the Razorbacks had a total of 22 rebounds, double what Rice got off the boards.
The Razorbacks continued to dominate in the second half. Within the first three minutes, they scored 10 points. It started off with a Jones fastbreak lay-up. Then, two three-pointers from Isaiah Joe, followed by an Adrio Bailey steal that led to him making a lay-up off of the fast break.
“I thought the effort tonight was great,” Musselman said. “We’ll see how it is against North Texas.”
Rice had a hard time getting into the game much past the nine-minute mark in the first period when they fell by 10 points.
Ako Adams was Rice’s leading scorer for the night, finishing with only 13 points. Rice only scored 43 points as a team, which is the least amount of points scored at a home opening game since 1950.
The Hogs faced instant challenges just hours before tip-off with roster changes involving sophomores Connor Vanover and Reggie Chaney.
After much speculation among Razorback fans as to whether Vanover would be granted eligibility from the NCAA, the waiver was denied. This causes him to miss out on any action this season and makes him a red-shirt.
“We were prepared for the worst,” Joe said, regarding Vanover, “so when we heard the news about Conner not going to play, we knew we have to play the season without him.”
At the same time, Reggie Chaney was suspended for a violation of team rules.
“Ethan Henderson was ready to play, he had a dunk and a few rebounds,” Jones said. “When we found out Reggie wasn’t playing we said next man up.”
During the post-game press conference Musselman did not want to release any more information about the Chaney situation.
Next up, the Razorbacks (1-0) take on North Texas (1-0) Tuesday, Nov. 12 in Bud Walton Arena.