Arkansas ends 2-game skid, bolsters resume with win over TCU
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — Mason Jones scored 20 points and Desi Sills added 18 to lead Arkansas to a 78-67 win over TCU in a Big 12/SEC Challenge game on Saturday.
The Razorbacks (15-4) led for the final 35 minutes of the game, though TCU didn’t trail by double digits until late in the second half. Sills’ 11 points in the first half helped open the lead and Jones, the team’s leading scorer on the season, had all but one of his 20 in the second half to help keep it.
“Thought it was our best game of the year on both sides of the ball,” Arkansas coach Eric Musselman said. “Tonight, we said the only way we were going to win was to play with incredible energy. I don’t think anyone who came into the arena tonight would say anything different.”
TCU (13-6) committed 13 turnovers in the first half, leading to nine Arkansas points and a 33-29 lead for the Razorbacks at halftime. Arkansas also stifled the Horned Frogs’ leading scorer Desmond Bane, who averaged 17.2 points entering Saturday, by limiting him to just eight points.
“The turnovers. The turnovers killed us,” TCU coach Jamie Dixon said. “I can’t even keep track of the travel calls. We had three carries called. We had two three-second calls. That is a first for me.”
Arkansas made 6 of 9 from 3-point range despite missing Isaiah Joe, who ranked ninth in the nation in 3-point field goals (67), with knee inflammation.
The Horned Frogs were led by Kevin Samuel, who scored 24 points on 9-of-12 shooting and grabbed 18 rebounds. The rest of the TCU roster shot just 15 of 38 for 39%.
Jimmy Whitt Jr. gave Arkansas a third scorer in double figures, tying Jones with 20.
TCU was coming off a win against No. 18 Texas Tech, but has now lost three of its last four.
Arkansas bolstered its NCAA Tournament resume with its third nonconference win over a Power Five team this season. The Razorbacks also beat Indiana and Georgia Tech before their conference season began.
Joe entered Saturday as the sixth leading scorer in the SEC and his absence altered the starting lineup. Sills came off the bench for the first time this season as Jalen Harris, who was a starter last year, rejoined the starting lineup for the first time since then. Musselman said there was no timetable for Joe’s return.
THIRD TIME NO CHARM
Musselman hasn’t lost three games in a row in his college coaching career, dating back to 2015-16. Arkansas had dropped consecutive games to Kentucky and Mississippi State before beating TCU.
TCU is back to Big 12 play Wednesday when it hosts Texas.
Arkansas will host South Carolina on Wednesday in its return to conference play in the SEC.