An Arkansas swingman’s last-second game-winner stung the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (2-2) Monday night as the Razorbacks (6-0) escaped Atlanta with a 62-61 overtime win to continue their undefeated run.
Arkansas went almost 11 minutes without a basket before junior guard Mason Jones banked home a deep stepback three-pointer with just a tenth of a second remaining in overtime to give Arkansas a one-point lead and the road win.
“I definitely did not call backboard,” Jones joked.
Regardless, the bank was open for Jones, who led the charge against the Yellow Jackets in what was a weird, defense-heavy, turnover-filled game. He scored 24 points on 7-of-12 shooting, grabbed six boards, assisted three baskets and stole the ball four times. Jones, who came into the game having made his last 36 free throws, went 7-of-10 from the stripe.
Both teams went scoreless the first four and a half minutes of the five-minute overtime period. Georgia Tech broke the scoreless stalemate when GT senior center James Banks III scored the first basket of the period with a close-range shot.
Jones responded in the next possession, as his NBA-distance three-pointer kissed the window before finding its way to the net to seal the victory.
Banks III was the only player to have a double-double, scoring 20 points on 6-of-10 shooting and grabbing 13 rebounds. Banks III and Jones were the only players to score 20 points or more.
The first half was back-and-forth early, but Arkansas led for almost 21 minutes until Georgia Tech tied it up midway through the second half. Arkansas had its lowest-scoring half of the season in the second half, recording only 26 points. They shot 1-of-7 from three and turned the ball over nine times in the half. Tired legs may have played a part in the inconsistent performance — four of five Arkansas starters played more than 39 minutes, and the bench played only 21 minutes and did not score a point.
Arkansas senior point guard Jimmy Whitt Jr. played every minute of the game and was the only Razorback without a turnover.
Whitt Jr. scored only six points, but found other ways to contribute, as he grabbed four boards, dished out four assists and rejected two shots.
The Razorbacks’ No. 1-ranked three-point defense held its prestige, stifling Georgia Tech to a 2-11 mark from three-point range. The Razorbacks’ opponents have now registered a mere 13 three-pointers against Arkansas through its first six games, averaging just a little over two a game.
Arkansas turned the ball over less than its opponent in the game and have now won the turnover battle in every contest this season. The Razorbacks pilfered the ball from Georgia Tech 13 times, and Jones and sophomore guard Isaiah Joe combined for nine steals.
More than a third of Arkansas’ 62 points came via the three-ball, as they went 7-of-23 from beyond the arc. Joe and Jones combined for six threes, and the other three came from Desi Sills, who is now just 2-25 from deep this season.
Joe scored 13 points despite a low field goal percentage of just over 28%. Joe was 4-of-14 from the field and 3-of-10 from downtown but tacked on nine rebounds and five steals.
The Razorbacks were outrebounded in the game and have now had less boards than their opponent in four of six games this season. They also shot 39% from the field, which is their second-worst shooting performance of the season.
Arkansas returns home to play the Northern Kentucky Norse (5-2) at 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 30 at Bud Walton Arena. The game will be televised on the SEC+ Network.