Scottie Bordelon is a reporter for WholeHogSports.com. A graduate of the University of Arkansas, Bordelon previously covered high school sports for the Times Record in Fort Smith and the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in Springdale. He is a member of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association and Football Writers Association of America, and was awarded 2022 Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year.
'He's stamped': Davis adds to postseason legend in win over KU
Arkansas guard Davonte Davis (4) drives past Kansas guard Kevin McCullar Jr. (15), Saturday, March 18, 2023 during the second half of the NCAA Division I Basketball Championship Second Round game at the Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa. Visit nwaonline.com/photos for the photo gallery.
DES MOINES, Iowa — Sitting in a locker in a corner of the Arkansas dressing room at Wells Fargo Arena, forward Kamani Johnson made an announcement to everyone willing to listen.
Johnson was serious. He added emphasis by pounding a left fist into his right palm and gesturing with his hands.
“I’m going to say this about Devo because people talk about him or whatever,” Johnson began. “Devo Davis is a pro. He’s a dog. He’s going to win. He’s a winner.
“He’s stamped. Arkansas legend, for sure.”
It would be difficult — next to impossible, really — to dispute that after Saturday. The Jacksonville native added to his legend in the postseason when he scored a game-high 25 points for the No. 8 seed Razorbacks as they knocked off No. 1 Kansas 72-71 to advance to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament for the third consecutive season.
Davis, a junior guard, flipped the switch in the second half after Arkansas went into halftime down 35-27. Prior to the break, Davis had 4 points on 2 of 6 from the floor in 14 minutes, and the Razorbacks were minus-9 with him on the floor.
More from WholeHogSports: Locker room interviews with Razorbacks players after their 72-71 win over Kansas on Saturday
Arkansas’ veteran scored 21 points on 7 of 9 from the field and 6 of 7 at the free-throw line in the second half.
“We ran a middle pick-and-roll with Devo predominantly in the second half,” Arkansas coach Eric Musselman said. “With his snake dribble, going right, coming back left, swinging hook shot, off the wrong foot — pretty amazing, but he does it all the time.”
After Arkansas fell behind 42-31 with 17:05 remaining on a three-pointer by Kansas wing Jalen Wilson, all momentum was on the side of the Jayhawks. But Davis kept throwing and landing punches.
In a span of 3:06, Davis scored 10 straight points for the Razorbacks, who trailed by as many as 12 points. He scored 14 of 18 Arkansas points over 5:23 and set the stage for freshman wing Jordan Walsh’s three-pointer with 8:54 to play that put the Razorbacks ahead 52-51.
After Walsh’s score, Davis tied the game at 55-55 with 7:04 to go, then later knotted the score again at 61-61 with 4:14 to play. He fouled out with 1:46 remaining after turning in one of the program’s best and gutsiest performances in the postseason.
“It’s amazing. It feels good. I don’t even know. I was crying on TV,” Davis said. “But this feels good and I’m glad we were able to pull it off and [the young players] were able to experience all of this. The beginning of conference, we didn’t know if we were going to be able to have this. It just feels good.”
Davis then paused to embrace freshman guard Nick Smith in a bear hug.
“Stuff like that,” Davis continued. “This is their first year and to be able to experience this…my first year was covid and we were still going through it, but this feels better now knowing that everything is regular. I’m glad we get to go to Las Vegas.”
More from WholeHogSports: Recap of Arkansas' second-round NCAA Tournament win over the No. 1 seeded Jayhawks
According to Sports Reference, Davis joins program greats such as Sidney Moncrief, Joe Kleine, Todd Day and Corliss Williamson as Razorbacks to finish with at least 25 points and eight rebounds in an NCAA Tournament win.
He is the first since Williamson in 1995 against Memphis to do so on 60% shooting or better.
“No matter if he was on the court shooting the threes, making the buckets or if he was on the bench coaching, he always made a big impact in the game and a big impact on winning no matter what,” Walsh said of Davis. “That’s what we need from him.
“That’s what we expect from him and that’s what he stepped up and did.”
With his scoring effort Saturday, Davis is averaging 12.9 points on 48.6% from the field during his 10-game NCAA Tournament career.
After Thursday’s 73-63 win over No. 9 Illinois, teammates and coaches labeled Davis a March Madness legend.
On Saturday, assistant coach Gus Argenal said Davis is Mr. March, and Musselman, on the CBS broadcast, said he feels as if Davis is his third son.
“Since he’s been in college, two Elite Eights and a Sweet 16,” Johnson said. “I can’t say enough about him. That’s my brother for life. Devo Davis is a pro and he’s been showing us why.
“Anybody who thinks otherwise is a fool.”
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