Rapid Reaction: Arkansas takes down No. 1 Gonzaga in Sweet 16, advances to Elite 8
Arkansas has pulled off a massive March Madness upset, taking down a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history. The No. 4-seed Razorbacks defeated No. 1-overall seed Gonzaga 74-68 on Thursday night in the Sweet 16. Gonzaga was the betting favorite by nearly 10 points (9.5), but it is Eric Musselman’s Hogs advancing to the Elite 8. It’s back-to-back Elite 8 appearances for Arkansas for the first time since 1994-95.
Arkansas made it 66-58 with 2:11 left, but Gonzaga wasn’t going away. The Zags got it down to 66-62 with 1:27 remaining. It remained a 66-62 game in the final 30 seconds. Gonzaga’s Drew Timme missed a layup with 24 seconds left, leading to an Arkansas rebound and more free throws for the Razorbacks. Gonzaga guard Andrew Nembhard struggled much of the night, but made a key 3-pointer with 19 seconds left, making it 68-65. In the final seconds, Chris Lykes and Davonte Davis made the necessary free throws to close out an Arkansas victory.
Trey Wade stepped up in a huge way for the Hogs. Wade, who does not regularly reach double figures in scoring, had 15 points, going 3-of-4 from 3-point range. JD Notae led the Hogs with 21 points on 9-of-29 shooting. Jaylin Williams posted a double-double of 15 points and 12 rebounds. Gonzaga’s Timme led all scorers with 25 points, going 9-of-19 from the floor.
Gonzaga was held under 40% shooting (24-of-64, 37.5%). The Bulldogs starting guards particularly struggled, going a combined 8-of-30 from the field. Arkansas managed to shoot 40.3% from the field (29-of-72). Both teams had rough 3-point shooting nights, with Arkansas fairing slightly better (7-of-25) than Gonzaga (5-of-21).
The Bulldogs actually won the rebound battle (45-42) and managed more free-throws, going 15-of-20 at the line to Arkansas’ 9-of-14. Arkansas, though, won the turnover battle (15-8) while recording more assists (13-9), steals (6-5) and blocks (6-3).
Arkansas went on a 13-2 run to take a 32-29 lead at the half. The second half continued to be a back-and-forth battle, as there were early ties and lead changes. The Razorbacks started to take control late in the second half. Arkansas was up by 8, its largest lead of the game at that point, at the under-8:00 timeout after Trey Wade made it 56-48 with 7:19 on the clock. That changed on Arkansas’ next possession, when Notae hit a 3-pointer to make it a 9-point lead (59-50). Gonzaga standout Chet Holmgren fouled out with 3:29 left in the game.
Arkansas wins as a 9.5 point underdog, the 3rd-largest upset in the Sweet 16 since 1985 when the tournament expanded to 64 teams
2000 Indiana over Duke (-13)
1997 Arizona over Kansas (-10)
— David Bearman ESPN (@DBearmanESPN) March 25, 2022