On to the Sweet 16: Arkansas outlasts Texas Tech to advance in NCAA Tournament
Eric Musselman is taking Arkansas to its first Sweet 16 since 1996. The 3-seed Razorbacks knocked off 6-seed Texas Tech 68-66 in a Round of 32 thriller.
Arkansas led by two points at the break and double-digits at times in the second half but the Red Raiders refused to go away, battling until the final buzzer. A late 9-2 Texas Tech run had it 67-66 Arkansas with under 2 minutes to play. The score remained the same until the 19.3 mark when JD Notae was fouled. Notae made a free-throw to extend the lead to 68-66 and got the final rebound of the game.
Arkansas’ Justin Smith and Texas Tech’s Terrence Shannon Jr. led the scoring with 20 points each. Smith shot 9-of-11, adding 6 rebounds, 2 assists and a block. Davonte “Devo” Davis and Moses Moody chipped in 15 points a piece for the Hogs.
With emotions and intensity running high from the get-go, Sunday’s game had the feel of a later-round tournament clash.
While Arkansas was a 3-seed beating a 6-seed, ESPN’s Basketball Power Index slightly favored Texas Tech (52.8 percent chance to win). The Red Raiders were also the Vegas betting favorite by a bucket leading up to tipoff.
It was all tied up at the first-half under-4 media timeout 31-31. For the final 3:26 of the period, Arkansas kept Texas Tech scoreless and notched two points for a 33-31 lead at the break. The Hogs improved their record to 34-2 when leading at the half under Mussleman.
There were four lead changes in the first 20 minutes. Texas Tech led for 10:47 of the half by as many as 10 points.
Smith and Moody got the Razorbacks off to a strong start in the second half, extending the lead to 44-35 at the first media timeout. It was a 10-point Arkansas advantage 50-40 at the under-12 timeout (11:58).
Devo Davis was tagged with a ridiculous technical foul for hanging on the rim after a dunk that made it 54-42 at 9:28. Texas Tech made the free throw to cut it to 11.
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The call did not swing the immediate momentum as Davis got another bucket to make it 56-43 (9:04). The Raiders later went on an 11-0 run that cut it all the way to 58-57 before Moody answered with a three-pointer extending it back to 61-57. It was 63-57 Arkansas at the 3:55 under-4 media timeout.
Arkansas awaits the winner of 7-seed Florida vs. 15-seed Oral Roberts in the Sweet 16.