Note to Our Readers: RNN Sports would like to thank our Northwest Arkansas contributing photographer, John D. James, for helping us secure a photo from the Kansas game from photographer, Craven Whitlow. Thanks to you both for your contributions to this story!
Once again, Arkansas basketball coach Eric Musselman has his team playing their best basketball just at the right time. Under Musselman, the Hogs have become a regular fixture in the NCAA Tournament’s “Sweet Sixteen”, and in the 2022-23 season, the Hogs will once again dance their way to the “Sweet Sixteen” and perhaps beyond. But this year, it seems to be an improbable feat given the highly inconsistent play of the team for much of the season.
Razorback senior Davonte Davis, who would eventually foul out of the game during a furious comeback rally by the Hogs in the second half, became the poster image for the NCAA Tournament. Davis, spent after the emotional comeback, broke down when interviewed on national television. Afterwards, TV anchor Charles Barkley referred to Davis, telling the television audience that if you don’t think this tournament means something to the players, just look at Davis.
In fact, Davis could be the promo image for the SEC’s slogan, “It just means more.”
Upsets have occurred this year throughout the tournament, and mismatches have been a primary reason. Case in point, the top ranked Purdue Boilermakers were upset by 16th seed Fairliegh Dickinson, primarily because of the bad match up that featured the bigger, slower Boilermakers against the lightning fast FDU team.
Likewise, the Razorbacks posed a similar problem for Kansas due to the athleticism, length, and speed of the Razorbacks. For Hog fans, it remained to be seen if Arkansas could shoot well enough and not turn over the ball as much against a very disciplined and talented Kansas Jayhawks roster.
But the game turned into a furious comeback by the Hogs in the second half while both teams were saddled with players in foul trouble. And down the stretch, it was Arkansas hitting critical free throws to ice the win. Under ten seconds to play, it appeared that Kansas would attempt to deliberately miss a second free throw attempt in hopes of rebounding and putting up a two point shot to tie the game, but, the shot banked off the backboard and into the basket. Arkansas inbounded the ball and time expired with Kansas falling one point short of overtime.
With the historic win over Kansas, Arkansas advances to the regional semifinals on Thursday night. Game time has not yet been announced. The Hogs will play the winner of today’s game between Connecticut and Saint Mary’s. Game times will be announced after the outcome of the game by the television networks covering the tournament.
Looking ahead for the Hogs, Arkansas may have to play UConn and UCLA to reach the Final Four. The West region that Arkansas is playing in the tournament will play the winner of the Midwest region in the national semifinals. The Midwest regional winner could be the Houston Cougars or the Texas Longhorns.
But, as this year’s tournament has proven, nothing is a sure bet, and absolutely no one can tell you who is going to win any game in the tournament. After all, it is not called “March Madness” for nothing!