March Madness: Arkansas uses a big comeback in the second half to shock no. 1 seed Kansas
Another number one seed was eliminated from the NCAA Tournament, this time it was the defending national champion.
Kansas, the top seed in the West, had a 12-point lead in the second half and was shocked by Arkansas 72-71 in their second-round game in Des Moines, Iowa. The Jayhawks, who were left without head coach Bill Self, were sent into the second round a year after winning them all while the Razorbacks would move to the Sweet 16 for the third consecutive season.
The Razorbacks, West no. The 8th seed, used an 11-0 run in the second half to soar back into the game. Trailing 46-34 with 15:21 to play, Jordan Walsh’s 3-pointer at the 8:55 mark gave Arkansas its first lead since being 2-0 in the opening minutes. While Walsh’s shot was big, it was Davonte Davis who held the Razorbacks down the stretch.
Davis, who was fouled with four fouls for most of the half, scored 21 of his 25 points in the second half, causing a major blow to the Kansas playmakers. But when Davies fumbled with 1:56 to play, his teammates stepped up.
First, Ricky Council’s 4 tied the game at 65-65 apiece with a hat-trick, then Kamani Johnson put the go-ahead offensive rebound, his sixth of the game. And after tying Kansas with it, Council put Arkansas ahead forever.
The board attacked the basket and was fouled with 24 seconds to play. Council made first, putting his team ahead 68-67. He missed the second, but Jordan Walsh swooped in and caught the loose ball to deflect it into the board. As soon as the ball was back in his hands, the board saw an opening in the basket and attacked. I got it wrong again. This time he did both, extending the Razorbacks’ lead to 70-67 with 21 seconds left.
On the ensuing possession, Kansas cut the lead to 70-69 with two free throws by Jalen Wilson. At that point, there were less than 10 seconds left. This puts Kansas in the wrong position. The Board was up to the challenge and calmly threw two more free throws to make it 72-69.
After three, Arkansas fouled an alert Kansas on their next possession to stop any chance of a 3-pointer. The strategy worked. Wilson I and II sank even while deliberately trying to miss her.
From there, all it took was an inside pass for the Razorbacks to run the remaining time off the clock and seal a big time, 72-71.
While Davis led the way with 25 points, Council made 21 of his own in an effort that included 10 of his 11 free throws. Walsh’s effort off the bench was great in sparking the comeback. He was the third Arkansas player with 10 points. Anthony Black and Nick Smith Jr., two new stars at Arkansas, combined for just 4 points on 1-of-10. But it didn’t matter. Razorbacks veterans lead the team to victory.