Senior Night Ruined By Loss

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas forward Michael Jones didn't leave Bud Walton Arena with good feelings after his final regular season home game.

Arkansas' lone senior, who has had an up-and-down career, was honored during a pregame ceremony at center court. Jones, who was joined by his parents, was presented with his framed jersey at midcourt, but had little to say after Arkansas' NCAA Tournament hopes were crippled by the 57-55 home loss to Mississippi State.

"It's tough," Jones said. "We didn't do the things we needed to do in the first half, and late in the second half, to win. But I'm not a guy that likes to speak on things like (Senior Night). It's just another game, really."

The loss was another bitter pill in Jones' senior season, which has been slowed because of a groin injury he sustained during the first minute of Arkansas' 68-67 loss to Kentucky on Jan. 29. Jones missed the next five games before returning to action in the closing minutes of the Hogs' 79-65 loss at Vanderbilt on Feb. 19.

Jones played four minutes against the Bulldogs and made his only shot, slashing to the hoop for a layup that cut Mississippi State's lead to 5-4 in the opening minutes.

But Jones may have another chance to play in front of the Bud Walton Arena crowd. Arkansas is headed for the National Invitation Tournament, and a home game, if they don't win the Southeastern Conference Tournament next week.

"Basically (my teammates) were wishing me luck before the game," Jones said. "But we didn't have it tonight."

Old Acquaintances
Point guard Eric  Ferguson battled with his counterpart, Mississippi State's Gary Ervin for the second time in his career Tuesday.

But Ferguson and Ervin go back a little further than that.

Ferguson (a Long Island native) and Ervin (a Brooklyn native) know each other from the AAU circuit in New York, where they played two years together before Ferguson went to prep school. They had a few "friendly" conversations Tuesday night and had to be separated by the referees once.

"It's just two New York City guys," Ervin said. "The refs thought we were trying to fight, but we know each other real well."

Ervin knocked down the biggest bucket of the game, netting a 3-pointer that gave Mississippi State a 56-52 lead with 1:04 left. He also rebounded his own missed free throw in the final minute and made a free throw to gave the Bulldogs a 57-55 lead with 17.1 seconds left.

Back Comes Frazier
Arkansas had to deal with one key player they didn't see during the first meeting in Starkville. Mississippi State guard Winsome Frazier missed eight games earlier this season with a broken left foot and was in street clothes in January, but made sure the Hogs knew he was on the floor in Bud Walton Arena.

Frazier scored 11 points in 25 minutes off the bench. The senior was 4 of 12 from the field and knocked down 3 of 7 behind the 3-point line.

"Having his presence out there in a tight game on the road was very important," said Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury. "He's not the old Frazier yet, but there's two things you can't substitute he brings: Experience and toughness. That's still there."

Track Team Honored
The Arkansas men's indoor track team, which won the Southeastern Conference championship last season, was honored during halftime.

At the time, coach John McDonnell's crew actually earned the loudest ovation after coach Stan Heath's basketball team struggled to a 33-24 first half deficit.

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