A missed fadeaway jumper by junior Mason Jones with 11 seconds left overshadowed 38 points and six rebounds as the Hogs dropped their fourth straight SEC game to Mississippi State, 78-77.
The Razorbacks shot just 46.2% from the field compared to 58.8% by the Bulldogs. Mississippi State won the rebound battle 28 to 26, but recorded three more turnovers than the Hogs. Jones led Arkansas in scoring with 38 and sophomore Desi Sills recorded 15 points.
“Jones is absolutely incredible,” Mississippi State head coach Ben Howland said. “All the effort and work he’s put into his game, his understanding and feel is incredible.”
Senior Jimmy Whitt Jr. opened up the second half with two 15-foot jumpers for the Razorbacks. This proved to not help too much as the Bulldogs started the half on an 11-4 run to take an early 51-36 lead.
Two free-throws from Jones brought Arkansas within 10 at the 13:22 mark, and directly after, sophomore Desi Sills converted a steal into two more free-throws to cut the Mississippi State lead to 56-48. This was part of a 9-0 Arkansas run in a span of 1:29.
The Bulldog lead was cut to 4-points at the 9:03 mark thanks to a 3-pointer from Jones right in the face of former Arkansas commit and current Mississippi State forward, Reggie Perry.
Arkansas was finally able to narrow the deficit to just one possession after Jones hit two-free throws with 3:48 remaining. Jones went to the line again with 2:31 remaining in the game and drained both shots to tie the score at 72-72.
Jones kicked the ball out to Sills in the corner for a 3-pointer that gave Arkansas its first second half lead and put the Hogs up 75-72 with 1:45 left in the game.
After a missed fadeaway three from Jones with 11 seconds remaining, Mississippi State banked in a put-back layup to take a 78-77 lead with 0.6 seconds remaining. This gave the Bulldogs their seventh SEC win on the year.
“I thought Mason’s decision making tonight was phenomenal,” Razorback head coach Eric Musselman said. “They forced him into a tough shot, but you can’t have a live-ball turnover that ends in a layup.”
The Hogs won the opening tip-off and went right to work with a 3-pointer from Jones. Less than a minute later, Bailey stole the ball from Perry and slammed it down to get the crowd into the game early.
Jones scored eight points in the first four minutes of the game for Arkansas, single handedly giving the Hogs a 10-8 lead at the 16:00 mark in the first half. By the same point in the game, Jones also had 2 personal fouls, putting him on the bench early.
After starting the game shooting 4 of 6 from the field with Jones in the game, Arkansas went 1 of 5 from the field with him on the bench, the only basket coming off of an Ethan Henderson layup. The first possession that Jones was back in, he drained a three.
The Razorbacks went nearly seven minutes without a field goal, but a drive from Jones that resulted in a 3-point play ended the drought with 3:44 remaining in the half. A layup from Whitt 23 seconds later tied the game at 27-27.
Mississippi State ended the first half on an 8-0 run to give them a 40-32 lead at halftime. The Bulldogs shot 62.1 % from the field in the first half compared to just 40.7 % by the Razorbacks.
After starting the half 4 of 6 from the field, the Hogs made only 7 of 21 shots from the field in the last 16:00. Jones scored 19 of Arkansas’ 32 first half points. The Razorbacks recorded 10 turnovers in the first half, but won the rebound battle 14 to 13.
“The bottom line all season is we’ve been so close. We haven’t been able to finish games we should be winning” Jones said.
The Razorbacks will travel to Gainesville, Florida, on Tuesday to take on the Florida Gators (15-9, 7-4) in Exactech Arena. The Gators have won three of their last four SEC games. The game will tip-off at 6 p.m. on ESPNU.