BUFFALO, NY. — Survive and advance. That’s the key to NCAA Tournament runs and that isn’t just during Eric Musselman’s tenure at Arkansas (27-8 overall). No, this team isn’t pleasing for those that prefer a systematic offensive style of ball. What the Razorbacks do well is playing a suffocating type of defense in the form of a cobra choking its prey.
Even while going stone cold from the field and Arkansas couldn’t even throw a garbage bag into a Waste Management dumpster the Hog did just enough to get by. Similar to how they did things last season in an Elite Eight run, the Razorbacks are doing it again even if it’s hard to watch.
Arkansas needed a spark with a little over six minutes remaining in the game. They got just that with a three pointer from Stanley Umude and a fast break dunk from Au’Diese Toney on a stellar feed from Devo Davis. The Razorbacks took a 39-33 at that point and didn’t look back the rest of the way.
Jaylin Williams finished with yet another double-double scoring 10 points and pulling in 15 boards. Chris Lykes had to sub-in multiple times during the second half for JD Notae who left the game with foul trouble. Notae fouled out after scoring 18 points and forcing eight steals. Lykes was clutch in the final moments in the win, shooting 4-of-4 from the free throw line. He finished with seven points on Saturday all from the charity stripe.
Au’Diese Toney scored seven points and four rebounds. Umude finished with nine points and eight rebounds.
The matchup to watch tonight was Toney guarding New Mexico State’s Teddy Allen. The Aggie’s transfer forward torched UConn on Thursday in the upset when he scored 37 points. Allen finished the game with only 12 points on 5-of-16 shooting and four rebounds. The Razorbacks keyed in on the star to force the Aggies other players to step up and Johnny McCants did that in a huge way leading the Aggies to a near upset with 16 points, a thunderous dunk and providing his team with winning energy.
Arkansas advances to the Sweet 16 for the second straight season and that is the first time the Razorbacks have been to back-to-back Sweet 16 appearances since the 1995-96 season. Eric Musselman has improved his tournament record at Arkansas to 5-2 and will face Gonzaga on Thursday. The Hogs now travel to the West Coast, destination San Fransisco, California which is home for the Musselman clan.