Arkansas starts 8-0 for first time in 22 years
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — Jimmy Whitt Jr. scored 17 points and Arkansas won its eighth straight, 69-61, over Austin Peay on Tuesday night, tying its best season start since 1997-98.
Isaiah Joe and Mason Jones scored 16 apiece and Arkansas (8-0) scored 21 points off 21 Austin Peay turnovers.
Arkansas led by just six points with 6:40 left before Desi Sills’ 3-pointer with 2:42 remaining capped a 7-0 run to seal the game.
The Razorbacks made 7 of 23 from 3-point range, the most treys they’ve made since the season opener. Arkansas entered the game 337th out of 350 Division I teams in 3-point percentage at 25.6 percent.
“Obviously we shot the ball well tonight,” Arkansas coach Eric Musselman said. “It’s hard to get close to a 50-40-80 (field goal, 3-point and free throw percentage), which is kind of the NBA term for playing as good as you can play offensively. We almost hit those marks.”
Austin Peay (3-4) stuck around largely thanks to the Razorbacks’ 20 turnovers and a game-high 20 points from Terry Taylor. Antwuan Butler scored 11 points, Jordyn Adams added 10 and Eli Abaev grabbed 11 rebounds.
BACK FROM INJURY
Jones missed Arkansas’ last game, a six-point win over Northern Kentucky on Saturday, with a shoulder injury. Jones said after Tuesday night’s game that his shoulder was “at about 70 percent.” He finished one point shy of his season scoring average against Austin Peay.
A SUDDEN BURST
Little-used forward Ethan Henderson blocked two shots on the same possession immediately after stepping on the court. Henderson had only played in two of Arkansas’ previous seven games, both blowouts. The Razorbacks went on a 9-0 run upon his insertion, capped with Henderson’s putback dunk that forced an Austin Peay timeout with 4:47 left in the first half. Henderson finished with two points, four rebounds, three blocks and three fouls in his seven minutes.
THREATENING TOP 25
Arkansas is one of only two SEC teams that remain undefeated, along with Auburn. The Razorbacks haven’t been ranked since one week in January 2017, when they were No. 22 to start the new year before two losses that week. Arkansas received 17 points in the AP College Basketball Top 25 Poll last week and is likely to gain more with another win Saturday.
Arkansas: Another win Saturday and the Razorbacks will have their best start since the national title season of 1993-94. That Arkansas team began the season 10-0 before a two-point loss to Alabama scuffed the perfection.
Austin Peay: A game with fewer turnovers would have kept the Governors close even into the final five minutes. Taylor, who shot 9 of 16 from the floor, lived up to his preseason Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Year honor.
Arkansas travels to Western Kentucky on Saturday for only its second road game of the season. The Hilltoppers beat Arkansas in their meeting last year, 78-77
Austin Peay: The Governors will play host to North Florida on Saturday.
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