FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- It was just a matter of time before one of the nation’s best shooters decided to get going.
Isaiah Joe was 1 for 7 from the floor at halftime and 0 for 4 from 3-point range, but scored 29 of his game-high 33 points in the second half to lead Arkansas to a 82-51 victory over Texas Southern on Tuesday night.
Joe finished just one off his career high of 34, set last year against Florida International.
Arkansas did not make a 3-pointer in the first half but led by 13 at the break courtesy of 12 forced turnovers. The Razorbacks limited the Tigers to 31% shooting from the field.
“That first half we were just so bad shooting the three ball,” Arkansas coach Eric Musselman said. “It’s like there was a lid on the basket. Obviously, he’s the only one that hit one for us tonight, but it opened up the floor for everybody else.”
Jimmy Whitt Jr. had 17 points on 8 of 13 shooting with 10 rebounds and Desi Sills added 10 points for the Razorbacks. The double-double was his first as a Razorback, but he did it five times at SMU.
“I thought Jimmy Whitt’s mid-range game was phenomenal,” Musselman said. “Our point guards got 15 rebounds between them, which is huge for us at that point guard position for those two guys to combine for 15 boards and Jimmy to get a double-double.”
Texas Southern (0-4), coached by former LSU boss Johnny Jones, was led by Tyrik Armstrong with 15 points.
Musselman coached under Jones while he was at LSU and then Jones returned the favor by working for Musselman at Nevada until taking the Texas Southern position.
“Coach Jones is a mentor, a family friend,” Musselman said. “I’m glad the game is over. Two of the guys who were on the Nevada staff beside coach Jones are with him, so hopefully we'll be able to exchange some ideas and thoughts on each other's basketball team tomorrow.”
With the win, Arkansas improved to 8-0 all-time against Texas Southern.
Texas Southern: The Tigers have not played a game at home this season and won’t until they host Lamar on Nov. 30. Their opponents thus far have been San Diego State, Wichita State and South Dakota.
Arkansas: The first road test of the season will come on Monday for Arkansas, as it visits Georgia Tech who will have already faced a Southeastern Conference opponent in Georgia in preparation.
Sophomore forward Reggie Chaney made his first appearance of the season for Arkansas after missing the first three games because of a suspension.
“I thought Reggie was really good,” Musselman said. “We were worried about his wind because we don’t do a whole lot of full court stuff in practice between games, we wanted to get his rust off. He protected the paint and rolled hard to rim. I think he’ll get more and more comfortable with our system as we go along.”
Arkansas was in danger of breaking an impressive streak at halftime when it was 0-for-13 from behind the arc. It has made at least one 3-pointer in every single game it has played since Jan. 7, 1989, a 99-92 victory over Texas.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, COACH
Musselman was assessed his first technical foul of his Arkansas tenure midway through the second half. It also just happened to be his birthday, as the coach turned 55 on Tuesday.
“Walking out the door my wife said, ‘Don’t let them score more than 55. Or if they do, don’t come home,’ so we kept them under 55,” Musselman said.
Texas Southern is on the road for the fifth straight time on Saturday at Northern Kentucky.
Arkansas hosts South Dakota on Friday in the Collegiate Hoops Roadshow.
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