Hogs come back, beat ORU to advance to Elite Eight

By: John Marshall, The Associated Press
Published: Saturday, March 27, 2021
Arkansas guard Davonte Davis, center, drives to the basket between Oral Roberts guard Kareem Thompson, left, and guard Carlos Jurgens (11) during the second half of a Sweet 16 game in the NCAA men's college basketball tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Saturday, March 27, 2021, in Indianapolis. Arkansas won 72-70. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Arkansas guard Davonte Davis, center, drives to the basket between Oral Roberts guard Kareem Thompson, left, and guard Carlos Jurgens (11) during the second half of a Sweet 16 game in the NCAA men's college basketball tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Saturday, March 27, 2021, in Indianapolis. Arkansas won 72-70. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

The chants of Arkansas' fans echoed from the concourse long after the players had cleared the floor.

“Wooooo, Pig! Sooie!”

It's not quite “40 Minutes of Hell,” but the Razorbacks are back.

Davonte Davis hit a short jumper with 2.9 seconds left, and Arkansas advanced to the Elite Eight for the first time in 26 years with a 72-70 win over Oral Roberts in the South Region semifinals Saturday night.

“It’s amazing just being able to be in this position right now as an individual and as an Arkansas player," said Davis, who had 16 points.

The Muss Bus grinded its gears through the first half into the second, bad shots and even worse defense putting Arkansas in a 12-point hole against the 15th-seeded Golden Eagles.

Eric Musselman's Razorbacks (25-6) got their Pig Sooie swagger back, turning defensive stops into early offense opportunities and offensive rebounds into points.

It came down to one final shot and Davis made it, sending Arkansas to the Elite Eight for the first time since the Nolan Richardson “40 Minutes of Hell” days.

Next up for the Razorbacks is top-seeded Baylor in what should be a fast-paced South Region final on Monday at 8:57 p.m.

“It’s an incredible feeling to be in an Elite Eight in our second year,” said Musselman, who took over the program in 2019. “I really can’t describe it.”

The let-it-fly Golden Eagles (18-11) let history slip through their grasp.

Within reach of becoming the first No. 15 seed to reach the Elite Eight, Oral Roberts stumbled with a series of turnovers and missed shots.

Max Abmas did his best to put the Golden Eagles in the Elite Eight for the first time in 47 years, scoring 25 points. His 3-pointer at the buzzer bounced off the front of the rim.

“We gave him a pass option, we gave him a dribble option,” Oral Roberts coach Paul Mills said. “He’s super bright and picks up things really quickly and understood and had great court awareness and had great selection on the shot. Unfortunately, it didn’t go in.”

The Golden Eagles had history on their minds. Florida Gulf Coast was the only other No. 15 seed to get this far in 2013 and lost at the regional semifinal round.

Oral Roberts knew it had a chance to top it against the Razorbacks after playing them earlier in the season. Oral Roberts led by 10 at halftime in Fayetteville on Dec. 20 before Arkansas bullied the Golden Eagles in the second half for an 87-76 win.

The Golden Eagles went chest-to-chest with the Razorbacks from the start of their first Sweet 16 game since 1974, contesting shots at the rim and chasing out to the arc to prevent open looks. Arkansas helped them out with some difficult shots, going 1 for 7 from 3 in the first half.

The Razorbacks tried to make it difficult on Abmas, trapping him in most pick-and-roll situations. The nation's leading scorer still found a way to get his points, with 12 in the first half. Carlos Jurgens, who averages 5.7 points per game, took advantage of repeatedly being left open, scoring 11 to help Oral Roberts lead 35-28 at halftime.

The Golden Eagles continued making shots in the second half as the Razorbacks kept taking bad ones, stretching the lead to 46-34.

“We weren't playing hard,” Davis said. “We were playing slow. We were letting them slow us down and that’s not what we needed. We’re a fast team.”

Arkansas had already been in this position once before, needing “24 Minutes of Hell” to outlast another upstart, Colgate, to open the NCAA Tournament.

Just like that game, the Razorbacks snapped out of it, playing better defense and getting to the rim instead of throwing up contested shots. Arkansas chipped the lead down to four midway through and finally caught, then passed, the Golden Eagles into the Elite Eight.

“The job wasn’t just to get to the Sweet 16,” Abmas said. “The job was to get to the national championship and win it. We came up short, but all the stuff we accomplished this season is something we’ll celebrate and remember the rest of our lives.”

REBOUNDING RAZORBACKS

Arkansas had 24 offensive rebounds in its regular-season win over Oral Roberts and owned the offensive glass again in the Sweet 16.

The Razorbacks had 18 offensive boards, leading to 18 second-chance points, and had 11 more rebounds overall.

Justin Smith had 10 offensive rebounds in the first game and grabbed 11 more on Saturday.

TATE'S LIFT

Jalen Tate kept the Razorbacks in it while they were struggling and had a strong all-around game.

The 6-foot-7 junior used his size to score 22 points. He set up Davis for the winning shot with a drive-and-kick.

“He played well and he was scoring the ball,” Davis said. “We needed that spark and he did it.”

EARLIER

FINAL | Arkansas 72, Oral Roberts 70

The Razorbacks are heading to the Elite 8 for the first time since 1995.

Devo Davis’ jumper with 3 seconds left was the difference. Max Abmas missed a good look at a three-ball as time expired.

Jalen Tate had 22 points, Davis 16, Moses Moody 14, Justin Smith 12 points and 14 rebounds. Abmas finished with a game-high 25 points. Kevin Obanor had 12 points and 11 rebounds.

:02.9, 2H — Devo Davis with a jumper to give Arkansas a 72-70 lead. It was assisted by Jalen Tate. Huge, huge shot from the freshman.

:31, 2H — Moses Moody fouls Francis Lacis. He misses the first and makes the second. We’re tied 70-70.

1:34, 2H — Jalen Tate playing like a man possessed tonight. His jumper gives Arkansas a 70-69 lead. He has 22 points.

1:48, 2H — Jalen Tate added a layup to give Arkansas the lead, then Kevin Obanor hit a layup plus the foul. Foul was on Tate. Obanor hits the free throw. ORU up 69-68.

2:24, 2H — Carlos Jurgens hits a tough shot off the glass as the shot clock expires. ORU then ties the game on a Max Abmas layup.

3:31, 2H — Jalen Tate with another layup. Arkansas up 66-62 after a Devo Davis layup. Golden Eagles call for time. Razorbacks fans are loud in Indianapolis.

4:39, 2H — Jalen Tate has given Arkansas a 62-60 lead. He has 16 points tonight. ORU, though, ties the game on the other end by a Fracis Lacis layup.

6:04, 2H — Justin Smith tried to rebound a Moses Moody missed layup but got called for an offensive foul. Kevin Obanor hit two free throws to give ORU a two-point lead. Moody then misses a layup, and Jalen Tate misses one as well. Devo Davis also missed a jumper. Razorbacks are working the glass. Jalen Tate got fouled underneath and hits both free throws. It’s tied 60-60.

6:36, 2H — Max Abmas split a pair of free throws, then Justin Smith cleaned up a Desi Sills miss. Devo Davis moments later ties the game with a jumper following a Moses Moody miss from three. It’s 58-58.

7:55, 2H — Moses Moody scores following an assist from Jalen Tate on a baseline out of bounds play. Razorbacks are down 57-54 at the under-8 media timeout. Moody has 10 points since halftime, and three fouls for the game. Devo Davis has eight points in the second half, and Justin Smith six.

Max Abmas has a game-high 22 points. Moody leads Arkansas with 14, and Tate has 12 plus five assists.

8:44, 2H — Devo Davis maybe got away with a travel attacking the rim, and he hits both free throws. Razorbacks down five. Davis is now in double figures with 10.

9:26, 2H — Moses Moody was fouled near the rim and split a pair of free throws. Justin Smith rebounded the miss, but Jalen Tate turned the ball over. Max Abmas got a layup to go to push ORU’s lead back to seven, 57-50.

9:39, 2H — Max Abmas with a layup at the front of the rim to give him 20 points on the night. A quick backdoor cut on Devo Davis freed him for the bucket. ORU up six.

10:38, 2H — Max Abmas gets to the rim and draws a foul on Moses Moody after a teammate rebounded a missed three. ORU went up by six briefly, but Justin Smith scored again. He is up to 10 points on 5 of 11 shooting. Shocker, he’s having an efficient second half so far.

11:37, 2H — Kareem Thompson snaps a mini drought for ORU with a three-ball. Justin Smith then adds a score with his Antawn Jamison-style runner. Golden Eagles lead 51-47. Devo Davis then picks up his third foul.

11:51, 2H — ORU has not scored in nearly three minutes, and Arkansas is on a 6-0 run over the last 2:38 as we hit the under-12 media timeout. Golden Eagles lead 48-45. Jalen Tate nearly hit a short midrange jumper on Arkansas’ last trip. It was halfway down and rattled out. Devo Davis and Moses Moody have 13 of the Razorbacks’ 17 since halftime.

12:44, 2H — Moses Moody was fouled shooting a long two with his foot on the three-point line. He makes both free throws. ORU’s lead is down to three.

13:46, 2H — Carlos Jurgens missed a jumper, then Justin Smith added a tough shot in the lane. Razorbacks down five. Smith has six points on 3 of 9 from the floor. Arkansas has made its last four shots, its best stretch of the night.

14:29, 2H — Moses Moody with a jumper following a Max Abmas layup. Razorbacks cut their deficit to 48-41. Moody now has nine points on 3 of 11 shooting.

14:51, 2H — Jalen Tate got a short jumper to fall out of the timeout, then he found Moses Moody in transition for a layup, plus the foul. He’ll be at the line when play resumes. He is now 2 of 10 from the floor for six points. ORU’s lead is 46-38. Good little burst there from the Razorbacks.

15:21, 2H — Kareem Thompson hits a jumper in the lane and ORU leads by 12. He has six points, and Eric Musselman calls for time. The Golden Eagles have their biggest lead of the night. ORU is 5 of 9 shooting this half and Arkansas is 3 of 9. Razorbacks shooting 31.8% for the game.

16:49, 2H — Max Abmas with another jumper, and the Golden Eagles are back up 10, 44-34. Abmas has 14 points. The Golden Eagles have made 10 of their last 11 shots inside the arc. Kevin Obanor later drove the lane and picked up an offensive foul after running through Jalen Tate.

18:14, 2H — Francis Lacis hits a three to put ORU up 10, but Devo Davis got another layup to go. ORU leads 42-34.

19:06, 2H — Devo Davis with a jumper to pull within seven, then Francis Lacis put in a layup. Davis then added another layup the next time down. It’s a 39-32 game.

19:44, 2H — Jaylin Williams picked up an early foul, then Kevin Obanor hit a jumper from the foul line to extend ORU’s lead to nine.

HALF — Kareem Thompson hit a jumper on ORU’s last possession, then JD Notae missed a three to end the half. It barely drew the rim. Golden Eagles lead 35-28 at halftime.

Max Abmas scored a game-high 12 points on 3 of 10 shooting — 3 of 5 from deep — and Carlos Jurgens added 11 on 5 of 7 from the floor. ORU shot 43.3% in the half, and 6 of 17 from three.

Jalen Tate scored a team-high 10 points for the Razorbacks. No other player has more than four points. Moses Moody went 1 of 8, JD Notae 1 of 5, Justin Smith 2 of 7. Arkansas missed 6 of 7 attempts from distance.

Kevin Obanor, who came into tonight averaging 29 points in the tournament, has five points and nine rebounds. He’s not been much of a factor, but Abmas and Jurgens are picking up the slack.

1:02, 1H — Devo Davis with a great find of Desi Sills, who hit a floater in the lane. Sills has two points. Big offensive stretch from the Razorbacks there. ORU up 33-28.

1:38, 1H — Arkansas was 2 of its last 10 from the floor before Devo Davis added a layup. That is Davis’ first score of the night. Need more energy plays from him right now.

2:42, 1H — Max Abmas split a pair of free throws out of the break, Justin Smith missed a layup, then Abmas hammered home a three. ORU leads 31-24. He has 10 points.

3:09, 1H — Kevin Obanor throws one down after Justin Smith gambled as the post defender. ORU up 27-24 at the under-4 timeout. Carlos Jurgens has a game-high 11 points, and Jalen Tate 10. Arkansas is shooting 33.3% to this point while the Golden Eagles are sitting at 40.7. ORU will be at the line for two shots when play continues. It will be its first shots at the line tonight.

5:10, 1H — Moses Moody got a jumper to fall in the lane after a shot fake, Carlos Jurgens added another score — his fifth of the game — then Jalen Tate hit a three. Tate has 10.

6:31, 1H — Carlos Jurgens with a dunk. ORU up 23-19. Jurgens has nine points, a game high. JD Notae then drove the lane for Arkansas and turned the ball over trying to hit Justin Smith under the rim. Devo Davis is back in for Notae.

7:08, 1H — Kareem Thompson adds a jumper from the right elbow over Desi Sills. Tough shot. ORU back in front 21-19. That was his first score of the game.

7:54, 1H — Desi Sills cut to the rim, missed a layup then Justin Smith added a putback for a two-point lead. The Golden Eagles scored moments later to knot the game 19-19. Sills was hit with an offensive foul to take us to the under-8 media timeout. Carlos Jurgens leads ORU with seven points, Max Abmas six. Jalen Tate has seven points for Arkansas, and Smith/JD Notae have four each.

9:27, 1H — ORU turned the ball over driving the ball into the lane, JD Notae dribbled to the other end in transition and drew a favorable whistle. His two free throws give Arkansas a 17-15 lead. ORU, though, ties the game on a Carlos Jurgens bucket.

10:15, 1H — Desi Sills with a great find of JD Notae for a bucket, and we’re tied 15-15. Arkansas is on an 8-0 run over the last three minutes.

11:15, 1H — Devo Davis picks up his second foul of the game about 35 feet from the rim. He sits and Desi Sills enters the game.

11:31, 1H — Jalen Tate drives the lane and gets a short midrange jumper to fall, plus the foul. Razorbacks are on a 6-0 run over the last 1:07 to pull within 15-13 at the under-12 timeout. Tate will be at the line when play continues.

12:38, 1H — Jalen Tate posts Max Abmas on the block and hits a short jumper. Razorbacks down 15-11 after a Justin Smith layup. Great no-look pass by Devo Davis after a JD Notae steal.

12:58, 1H — Kevin Obanor and Max Abmas have hit back-to-back threes and ORU leads 15-7. Eric Musselman calls for time. The Golden Eagles are 5 of 14 from the floor and 5 of 10 from deep. Abmas has six points, Obanor with three points and four rebounds.

14:05, 1H — Justin Smith fouled Kevin Obanor on the perimeter, then officials called Davonte Davis for a push on an ORU miss from three. Ethan Henderson checks in for Smith.

14:41, 1H — ORU has knocked down back-to-back threes and leads 9-4. The Golden Eagles are 3 of 10 from the floor, and all of their buckets are triples. Jalen Tate scored the next time down for Arkansas and drew a foul. He’ll be at the line when play resumes. ORU leads 9-6 at the first media timeout.

16:36, 1H — Davonte Davis picks up an offensive foul as he drives left and hits a short midrange jumper. Next trip down for ORU, Paul Mills picks up a technical foul. He’s not happy with the call on Carlos Jurgens. Razorbacks up 4-3 after Moody hits two free throws.

18:01, 1H — Jaylin Williams gets Arkansas’ first points. Jalen Tate drove the lane after rebounding a Justin Smith miss from the top of the key. ORU up 3-2.

19:15, 1H — ORU gets on the board first with a three-ball from Francis Lacis just seconds after Moses Moody blocked a layup attempt. Golden Eagles lead 3-0. Jalen Tate missed a wide open three on the right wing and Moody missed a midrange jumper the next trip down.

Pregame

Arkansas’ starting lineup: Jalen Tate, Moses Moody, Davonte Davis, Justin Smith and Jaylin Williams.

Williams is making his second consecutive start and fourth of the season. He started in the second-round win over Texas Tech and finished with 10 rebounds — 8 defensive — and 4 assists in 28 minutes. He did not play in the teams’ first meeting on Dec. 20.

Smith is in the midst of the best scoring run of his college career, adding 20-plus points in Arkansas’ last three games. He added a 22-point, 17-rebound double-double against the Golden Eagles earlier this season. Ten of those rebounds came on the offensive end.

Moody and Davis are each averaging 13.5 points in the NCAA Tournament. Moody has knocked down 5 of 6 midrange jumpers in two games. Davis has added four scores in transition.

The Razorbacks are one win away from the program’s first Elite 8 appearance since 1995.

Oral Roberts’ starters: Max Abmas (6-1), Carlos Jurgens (6-5), Kareem Thompson (6-6), Francis Lacis (6-7) and Kevin Obanor (6-8).

Abmas and Obanor are the players to keep an eye on for ORU. Abmas is averaging 24.5 points this season and Obanor is second on the team at 19.0 per outing. They have teamed up for 72.4% of the Golden Eagles’ points in the NCAA Tournament.

ORU knocked off 2-seed Ohio State and 7-seed Florida to reach the Sweet 16. Abmas has scored 27.5 points per game in the tournament, and Obanor 29. Only two other Golden Eagles players have combined to score 10 or more points — Jurgens and Thompson.

Paul Mills’ team has averaged 11 made threes the last four games and made 21 against the Buckeyes and Gators. It is also the best free throw shooting team in the country, making 82.4% of its attempts. The Golden Eagles shoot the three at a 38.2% clip.

ORU is 18-10 overall and has won seven consecutive games dating back to Feb. 27.

Running updates by Scottie Bordelon

Discussion

Have a comment on this story? Join the discussion or start a new one on the Forums.