Senior Finds His Way Back In Spotlight

FAYETTEVILLE --For most of the season, Arkansas forward Michael Jones has been buried in the lost-but-not-yet-found department.

He deserved to have his mug plastered on the side of a milk carton.

But nobody had trouble finding the 6-foot-9, 222-pound senior in his team's 73-67 win against Jacksonville State in Bud Walton Arena on Wednesday night.

Jones stood out like a sore thumb and 15,924 fans and a television audience couldn't miss him.

"Coaches told us we have to pick up a void because (UA freshman forward) Charles (Thomas) wasn't here (because of the birth of his first child) tonight," Jones said. "We just wanted to know who could step up. He asked me could I step up.

"I thought I could."

Mission accomplished.

Even if Jones looked as if he disappeared in the second half, his totals were good enough to keep Arkansas in the game.

Jones played 14 minutes -- he came into the game averaging only 5.5 minutes -- and tied his season high in points (8) and rebounds (4) and was 4 of 7 shooting. For good measure, Jones added an assist and a steal.

Albeit all his points and rebounds came in the first half, Jones' contribution was huge.

Ask Razorbacks guard/forward Olu Famutimi.

"He was giving his all out there and those shots were big ones early in the game," Famutimi said. "He can shoot it. In the first half, he grabbed some big rebounds, too.

"He stepped it up."

Hogs guard Jonathon Modica agreed.

"Man, he jump-started us offensively," Modica said. "If he had not come up with those big shots we might have been in trouble early in the game.

"We were down by two (33-31) at halftime and it could have been different without Michael making those keys shots at key times.

"He gave us a spurt."

Freshman center Darian Townes nodded.

"Michael knocked down those big shots early on, but I'm not surprised," Townes said. "Even though we were down by two points in the first half, he gave us a lift to keep us that close. I see him do it all the time in practice.

"He's a great shooter. He's unbelievable at times. He's money when he shoots it."

When he gets a chance to shoot it.

"Yeah, it can get disappointing when you don't play a lot of minutes and you are sitting on the bench, but my coaches and teammates always offer encouragement," Jones said. "I sometimes feel lost in the shuffle. I think anyone would.

"The key is you have to be ready when your team needs you. That's the important thing you have to remember.

"I just played as hard as I can. I don't know how else to play. I wanted to play good defense and block some shots when I am out there.

"I didn't feel lost tonight."

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