Arkansas Coach Rips Off Shirt To Celebrate Victory Over Defending Champ Kansas
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Eric Musselman and his gamers rushed throughout the ground on the remaining buzzer to have a good time with their joyfully delirious pals from Arkansas.
The 58-year-old coach jumped onto the press desk, ripped off his crimson polo shirt and waved it over his head, shouting all of the whereas to the followers’ delight, as has develop into his custom after the most important of his wins.
And this was a extremely massive one.
Kansas’ nationwide title protection ended within the second spherical of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday when Arkansas’ Ricky Council IV made 5 free throws within the closing seconds and the eighth-seeded Razorbacks beat the No. 1 seed Jayhawks 72-71.
“I would love to lie and say that I felt composed, but we only led for 1:43,” he mentioned. “This has been as challenging and as up-and-down a season as I’ve ever been a part of.
“For these guys to be rewarded for sticking with it and being able to go to Las Vegas and participate with only 16 teams still standing. … It’s really hard to make this tournament. It’s really hard to win a game in this tournament. It’s really hard to beat defending champions, No. 1 seed. We did it.”
Arkansas was taking part in a No. 1 seed for the third straight yr. Last yr, the Razorbacks knocked out Gonzaga on the way in which to their second straight Elite Eight. This time, the Razorbacks survived shaky offensive play early and foul hassle late. They grew to become the primary group to beat a No. 1 seed with three gamers fouling out, in keeping with OptaSTATS.
“That’s such an unbelievable win for our program,” Musselman mentioned. “I keep telling people that we’re getting better. Not many teams can get better this time of year. I’ve never been prouder of a team like tonight.”
Davonte Davis scored 25 factors and Council added 21 as Arkansas rallied from a 12-point second-half deficit. Kansas, taking part in with out ailing coach Bill Self, grew to become the second high seed to not escape the event’s first weekend after Purdue misplaced on Friday evening to No. 16 seed Fairleigh Dickinson.
Arkansas (22-13) is within the Sweet 16 for the third straight yr and can play both Saint Mary’s or UConn within the West Region semifinals in Las Vegas on Thursday.
Self has been with the Jayhawks (28-8) since they arrived in Des Moines and has attended practices and conferences, however he nonetheless didn’t really feel effectively sufficient to educate a sport after having a coronary heart process March 8 to clear clogged arteries.
Longtime assistant Norm Roberts was performing coach for a fifth straight sport in Self’s absence.
Kansas, bidding to develop into the primary repeat nationwide champion since Florida in 2006-07, was forward 35-27 at halftime and misplaced for the primary time in 27 video games when getting into the second half with a lead. Kansas had been 47-0 within the NCAA Tournament when main by eight factors or extra on the half.
“Our guys have been terrific all year,” Roberts mentioned. “They fought to the very end, made huge plays. It was tough not having Coach here, but we don’t make any excuses. We have to line up and get it done, and we came up a little bit short today.”
Davis scored 21 of his factors within the second half. He fouled out with 1:56 left, turning issues over to the veteran Council, a switch from Wichita State who scored 9 of the Razorbacks’ remaining 11 factors.
“This team was struggling and we figured it out,” Davis mentioned. “I’m glad we did at the right time. Hopefully we continue to do it.”
Outside the locker room, a sobbing Musselman hugged Davis and shouted, “I (expletive) love you, man!”
Council’s free throw put Arkansas forward to remain, 68-67, with 24 seconds left. He then rebounded his personal miss of the second free throw and made two extra to provide the Razorbacks a three-point lead.
The groups traded free throws, and Arkansas despatched Kansas’ Jalen Wilson to the road with 3 seconds left to forestall a possible tying 3-pointer. Wilson made the primary free throw and appeared to attempt to miss the second deliberately, nevertheless it banked arduous off the glass and in, and Kansas by no means regained possession.
Wilson led the Jayhawks with 20 factors however lamented grabbing solely 4 rebounds, which he mentioned was a consider Arkansas holding a 15-2 benefit in second-chance factors. No missed rebound harm extra, he mentioned, than when Kansas didn’t seize the ball off Council’s missed free throw within the waning seconds.
“It always comes down to one play, especially hustle plays like that,” Wilson mentioned. “It’s just disappointing to end like that, especially with how great our year was. Credit to them for how they played.”
Arkansas, which beat Illinois within the first spherical, was thought of a scary matchup for the Jayhawks with its explosive transition sport and talent to play lockdown protection.
But circumstances have been lower than best for the Razorbacks. Guard Anthony Black tweaked a nagging ankle harm early and went to the bench to get re-taped and alter footwear, and fellow guard and projected excessive NBA first-round draft decide Nick Smith Jr. picked up two fast fouls and was restricted to 10 minutes and no factors within the first half. Also, massive man Kamani Johnson was in poor health and performed with a sore toe.
The Razorbacks have been too desirous to shoot 3-pointers early. They missed 8 of 9 within the first half and couldn’t get their operating sport going.
Kansas was in management for stretches however by no means might put away the Razorbacks.
Davis began a game-turning 11-0 Arkansas run in the midst of the second half and Jordan Walsh’s 3-pointer with eight minutes left gave the Razorbacks their first lead since their first basket of the sport.
Arkansas neutralized Wilson when it mattered most, permitting the All-American solely two pictures over a 15-minute stretch of the second half.
Arkansas is within the Sweet 16 for the 14th time. The solely lower-seeded Razorbacks group to achieve a regional semifinal was the 1996 squad, which was a No. 12 below Nolan Richardson, who led the varsity to its solely nationwide title two years earlier.
If Musselman reaches his first Final Four, he’ll evoke extra reminiscences of these glory years.