ATLANTA (AP) — Mason Jones knew either he or Isaiah Joe would take the last shot. Even so, he never figured to win the game the way he did.
“I gave the ball to Isaiah,” Jones said. “Isaiah took three dribbles to the left, to the middle. They double-teamed him. He threw it to me. I dribbled three times, stepped back. Backboard. God bless us.”
Jones banked in a 3-pointer from the right wing with one-tenth of a second left in overtime, helping Arkansas stay unbeaten with a 62-61 victory over Georgia Tech on Monday night.
“I definitely did not call backboard,” Jones said with a smile.
Georgia Tech took its first lead since the midway point of the first half on James Banks’ short turnaround jumper with 22.3 seconds remaining, but Arkansas did not call timeout before Jones’ 25-footer sent the Yellow Jackets to their second straight loss.
“We had the lead and we played great defense on that last possession,” Georgia Tech coach Josh Pastner said. “The kid hit a prayer.”
Jones scored 24 points and Joe had 13 for Arkansas (6-0), which won its first road game under coach Eric Musselman.
“We didn’t call a timeout for a reason,” Musselman said. “I didn’t want their defense to get set and as long as Isaiah or Mason had the ball in their hands, we were going to take that thing and either make a shot or miss a shot and get out of here with no time on the clock.”
Banks had 20 points and 13 rebounds for Georgia Tech (2-2).
Neither team scored in the extra period before taking their final shots, and the game went to overtime after both teams missed a shot on their last two possessions of regulation. The Jackets tried an in-bound pass and tip for the 6-foot-10 Banks, but the ball bounced off his hands as the buzzer sounded.
Jose Alvarado, Georgia Tech’s starting point guard, was sidelined by an ankle injury for the second time in the last three games. Bubba Parham took Alvarado’s spot and had 10 points, two assists and a game-high six turnovers. Pastner said Alvarado will likely miss the next three games.
Arkansas took a nine-point lead, the biggest of the game, when Jones stole the ball from Parham and hit a free throw with 16:07 remaining. Georgia Tech went on a 12-4 run to pull within one on Evan Cole’s lay-in about four minutes later.
Michael Devoe banked in a shot on the left side and Parham hit two free throws as the Jackets twice tied the game, but they were down by seven at the 5:57 mark when Pastner was called for a technical foul after Jones hit a baseline layup and drew a foul from Devoe. He hit the next three free throws for a five-point possession.
Arkansas forced 23 turnovers and outscored the Jackets 18-11 in points off miscues. Banks turned the ball over three times. Jones and Joe took turns stealing the ball from Parham for fast-break layups as the Razorbacks led by seven.
Arkansas was up 33-30 entering the second half.
“The 23 turnovers just ended up biting us in the rear,” Pastner said. “However, our guys played their tails off. That’s all you can ask for, and they’ve done it every game.”
Arkansas: It wasn’t against a top-flight program, but the victory should give the Razorbacks a boost of confidence despite another off night from Isaiah Joe, who went 4 for 15 from the field one game after he had five points against South Dakota. Joe last season became the first freshman to lead the SEC in 3-point shooting at 41.3%. He’s shooting 36.3 this season. The Razorbacks could use a better supporting cast, too, as their bench players were outscored 10-0.
Georgia Tech: Michael Devoe began the night as the ACC’s leading scorer, averaging 26 points per game, but he struggled against Arkansas’ lengthy guards, missing seven of his first nine attempts and finishing with 12 points on 4 for 16 shooting. Musselman credited Jimmy Whitt Jr. and the Razorbacks’ help defense with limiting Devoe.
Arkansas: Hosts Northern Kentucky on Saturday and Austin Peay on Dec. 3.
Georgia Tech: Host Bethune-Cookman on Sunday and Nebraska on Dec. 4.