Jonathan Holmes scored Arkansas’ last basket at the end of the game.
Holmes, a walk-on who didn’t even have his name stitched on his jersey for most of the season, made his sixth in-game appearance this year and finally made a shot. He had been 0-4, but made a desperation heave driving to the basket. The crowd erupted. Fans started throwing their foam fingers in the air. It was jubilation.
That’s the kind of afternoon it was for the Razorbacks. Coming off a frustrating outing in Gainesville midweek, Arkansas needed to hold their home court on Senior Day to, we believe, punch their ticket to the NCAA Tournament regardless of what happens in the SEC Tournament in Nashville next week. And did they ever.
It took Arkansas a while to get going, as they’ve been known to do. They were down 7 midway through the first half but came back and led by one at halftime - it was almost 4 but a midcourt heave from Dusty Hannahs rimmed out. But Arkansas started the second half on a 10-2 run with threes from Hannahs and Jaylen Barford and a pair of jumpers from Dustin Thomas, and the second half was never really close. Arkansas led by as many as 21 by the end of it.
There were a ton of highlights. Moses Kingsley dunks. Hannahs threes. Barford had a spinning layup and an awesome rundown block among other plays. Trey Thompson took a nice pass for a dunk and made a beautiful tip pass to Thomas for layup. Anton Beard took a loose ball coast to coast for a twisting reverse layup. Manny Watkins had some nice plays en route to his 12 points.
He's been everywhere this afternoon. WOW.— Razorback Basketball (@RazorbackMBB) March 4, 2017
5+ minutes left on ESPN2 pic.twitter.com/oHqn7FNkVi
THROW it down, Trey!— Razorback Basketball (@RazorbackMBB) March 4, 2017
Kingsley, Hannahs, and Barford each scored 15 points to lead the team. Georgia’s J.J. Frazier led the game with 24 points but was only 5-15 from the floor. He was also in foul trouble most of the second half. Arkansas was able to take advantage. The Bulldogs as a team shot only 31.1% while Arkansas shot 55.7%. The Hogs would have won by much more but the Bulldogs were 26 of 28 from the free throw line. It was enough to keep the game competitive for a while.
We think Arkansas likely clinched an NCAA Tournament berth with the win. It’s hard to imagine a loss on a neutral floor to somebody in the SEC Tournament next week would knock them down terribly far. We won’t know who Arkansas will play yet, as the Hogs’ seeding will depend on the South Carolina vs Ole Miss game Saturday night. Arkansas will be either a 3-seed or a 4-seed and won’t play until Friday. There’s a ton of scenarios regarding who Arkansas could play that day.
The Hogs are included in every bracket projection for the NCAA Tournament and Georgia is a fringe top 50 team, so this is a solid resume win for the Hogs. It was a great way to end another regular season at Bud Walton Arena, and hopefully there are still another exciting few weeks ahead.