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.
Arkansas beats Kansas to advance to Sweet 16
Arkansas' Ricky Council shoots past Kansas' K.J. Adams Jr. during the second half of a second-round college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament Saturday, March 18, 2023, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
DES MOINES, Iowa — Arkansas is moving on to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament for the third consecutive season under Eric Musselman.
The Razorbacks overcame a 12-point second-half deficit with 15:20 remaining and defeated the West Region's top seed, Kansas, 72-71 at Wells Fargo Arena on Saturday.
Arkansas (22-13) will play next in Las Vegas on Thursday against either Saint Mary’s or Connecticut, who are scheduled to play at 5:10 p.m. Central on Sunday.
The Razorbacks defeated the top seed in the West Region for the second year in a row. They upset Gonzaga last year in the Sweet 16 in San Francisco.
Arkansas eliminated a reigning national champion for the first time since U.S. Reed's half-court shot downed Louisville in 1981.
"That's such an unbelievable win for our program," Musselman told CBS after the game. "I keep telling people that we're getting better. Not many teams can get better this time of year. I've never been prouder of a team like tonight."
Kansas (28-8) played the game without Hall of Fame coach Bill Self, who missed his fifth consecutive game following a heart procedure. Self was in Des Moines and involved in game planning, but assistant Norm Roberts was the team's game-day coach.
Moments after the final buzzer sounded Musselman stood on top of the media tables with his shirt off and led a Hog Call. He improved to 8-2 in NCAA Tournament games as the Razorbacks' head coach.
The Jayhawks took a 12-point lead with 15:20 to play on a pair of interior scores from Dajuan Harris, who left the game late in the first half with an ankle injury.
Later, over a span of 3:20, Arkansas put together an 11-0 run fueled by Davonte "Devo" Davis and capped with a three from Jordan Walsh that gave the Razorbacks their first lead — 52-51 — since 2-0.
With 1:43 left, Arkansas guard Ricky Council knocked down a turn-around jumper to tie the game 65-65, then Arkansas got a defensive stop on a shot clock violation. Council missed a mid-range jumper, but forward Kamani Johnson grabbed the miss and added a layup for a 67-65 lead with 47 seconds left.
Jalen Wilson, an All-American and the Big 12 player of the year, canned a pair of free throws on the Jayhawks’ ensuing possession to tie the game with 39 seconds remaining.
With 26.7 seconds left, Council made 1 of 2 free throws and the Razorbacks rebounded the second free throw thanks to the hustle of Walsh. Council wound up back at the line again and made both free throws with 20.4 seconds left to make it a 70-67 game.
Council made two more free throws with seven seconds to play for a 72-69 lead.
Wilson made two free throws for the Jayhawks with three seconds remaining. He appeared to try to intentionally miss the second attempt, but it banked in.
Arkansas inbounded the ball and ran out the clock.
Davis, who fouled out with less than three minutes remaining, led the Razorbacks with 25 points. Council added 21 points and Walsh had 10.
"Devo was absolutely incredible," Musselman said. "I feel like he's my son. I love this kid so much."
Davis was emotional after the win and began crying during his interview with CBS.
"This team was struggling and we figured it out, and I'm glad we did at the right time," Davis said. "Hopefully we'll continue to do it."
Wilson led the Jayhawks with 20 points.
Kansas took early command with an 11-0 run that followed a Council jumper to get the Razorbacks on the board first at 2-0.
Wilson contributed 5 points during the run and scored 7 of the Jayhawks' first 13 points.
Over a 1:01 stretch late in the first half, the Jayhawks pushed their lead to 31-21 behind a basket and free throw from Kevin McCullar and a pair of free throws by KJ Adams.
Kansas led 35-27 at halftime thanks to a pull-up jumper from McCullar. In the closing seconds of the half, officials swallowed their whistled on a three-point attempt by Council in which he appeared to be contacted by a Kansas player.
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