BUFFALO, N.Y. (AF) — Despite a foul-ridden second half and the three-point onslaught brought on by Vermont, the Hogs are moving on to the second round of the NCAA tournament after beating the Catamounts, 75-71.
Coach Musselman knew it was going to be a tough game, simply because of how well-coached the Catamounts are.
“They understand their roles, uh, they play really hard,” Musselman said. “They’re a really smart basketball team. They can shoot the three. They present a lot of problems.”
JD Notae’s two free throws with nine seconds left in regulation sealed the deal, although tonight’s game was not for the faint of heart.
Mere minutes prior to those free throws, a trap by two Vermont defenders almost turned the ball over back to the Catamounts with less than 10 seconds remaining in the contest.
Stanley Umude was the leading scorer, finishing with 21 points, followed by Notae who finished with 17. Devo Davis also played a major role in tonights game, finishing with 13.
“Stan can score on all three levels, so ... we used that to his advantage in our offense,” Davis said. “And I think as we continue to run plays for him, he’ll continue to make plays for us.”
Jaylin Williams finished the night with a double-double, scoring 13 points and cleaning up the glass with 10 rebounds.
As a team, the Razorbacks shot 42.9% from the field, and 33.3% from beyond the arc, while allowing Vermont to shoot 44.8% from the field and 37.5% from three.
Turnovers were kept to a minimum by both teams, with the Hogs committing 5 and the Catamounts committing 6.
Williams and Notae showed up in the scoring column late, but it was the play of Umude and Davis that kept things steady for Arkansas as they survived every advance that the Catamounts gave.
Notae came alive scoring in the second half, but foul trouble forced him to the bench for the latter half of the first. He missed all of his field goal attempts and two free throws before the two teams headed for the locker rooms at halftime.
“Just got to be more aggressive, I feel like I settled too much in the first half. Second half, I got downhill a little more, made plays for my teammates,” Notae said.
It was Notae, though, who gave the Hogs their largest lead of the night, after a hard drive to the basket stretched the lead to nine, 67-58.
Throughout the second half, the two squads danced with the lead, with seven lead changes in the first 10:36 of the second. Luckily for the Hogs, two free throws from Umude with 9:34 left in the contest gave Arkansas the lead, 52-51, and they would not relinquish it.
That doesn’t mean it was easy, though. The rest of the match came down to free throws, and Vermont failed to capitalize. They shot just barely over 50% in the second half from the charity stripe, 7-of-13.
Arkansas hit 16-of-18.
After a day full of upsets, Arkansas fans can finally breathe again, knowing their team was not a victim.
“This tournament, there’s nothing guaranteed,” Notae said after the game. “Everybody trying to win, so, with that, we just got to come out there and play from the jump to the finish.”
Up next, the Hogs will stay in Buffalo and play the New Mexico State Aggies, who pulled off an upset over the UCONN Huskies in the game prior.
That game is set for Saturday, with tip off coming somewhere around 7:40 p.m. on TNT.
For more coverage of the Arkansas Razorback’s tournament run, follow me on Twitter @DanFairHogs!