NCAA Tournament report

Black delivers with ‘D’

Anthony Black
Anthony Black

DES MOINES, Iowa -- University of Arkansas freshman guard Anthony Black didn't have his typical game on offense against Kansas on Saturday.

But Black still played a key role in the Razorbacks' 72-71 victory over No. 1 seed Kansas at Wells Fargo Arena with his defense against 6-8 freshman guard Gradey Dick in a matchup of McDonald's High School All-Americans.

Dick, the Big 12 Newcomer of the Year, came into Saturday's game averaging 14.3 points per game, but he finished with seven against Black and the Razorbacks on 3-of-9 shooting without a free-throw attempt.

"Gradey's a really talented offensive player, so I was just chasing him around a lot, trying to make sure he didn't get going," Black said. "He can score at all three levels, so I was trying my best not to let him get any good looks."

Black, a second-team All-SEC player who came into the game averaging 12.8 points and 4.1 assists, had 4 points and 2 assists on 1-of-6 shooting against Kansas.

"It wasn't my game on offense today," Black said. "So I really focused on defense. I was just trying to help us get stops."

Dick had a high of 26 points against Oklahoma State this season and scored 14 or more points in 20 of 35 games. Saturday marked the fifth time he was held to seven or fewer points.

"They had some long athletes that made it tough for [Dick] to get shots," Norm Roberts, the Jayhawks' acting head coach, said in reference to the 6-7 Black and other perimeter plays such as 6-6 Ricky Council and 6-4 Davonte Davis. "I don't think we screened as well as we wanted to for him. Maybe we could have run a few more things for him, but they did nullify him a little bit.

"I thought we shared the ball pretty good and we had a lot of balance, but they did do a good job of preventing him from getting open looks."

Fourth time

Kansas suffered its fourth second-round loss as a No. 1 seed, which is twice as many as any other team since 1985 when the NCAA Tournament expanded to 64 teams.

The Jayhawks fell to 15-4 in second-round games as a No. 1 seed. They also have won two national championships, in 2008 and last season, as a No. 1 seed.

Stanford and Villanova have two losses each as No. 1 seeds to tie for the second-most behind Kansas.

Big put-back

Until Saturday, arguably the biggest play senior forward Kamani Johnson had made in two seasons with the Razorbacks was a tip-in at the end of regulation that sent the Arkansas-San Diego State game into overtime at the Maui Invitational earlier this season.

The Razorbacks then beat the Aztecs 78-74 in overtime. It was a marquee neutral court victory that was a big plus for Arkansas' NCAA Tournament resume.

Johnson got an even bigger put-back basket in Arkansas' 72-71 victory over Kansas on Saturday when he scored on an offensive rebound that put the Razorbacks ahead 67-65 with 47 seconds left.

Kansas managed two more ties, but never regained the lead.

"My role is to rebound, and I try to be a superstar at that," said the 6-7 Johnson, who led Arkansas Saturday with a season-high 10 rebounds in 19 minutes. "I felt like [Kansas 6-9 forward] JK Adams had kind of gotten a little bit one up on me down the stretch, and I had to get him back.

"He's a hell of a player, but I had to get back at him one time at least."

In two NCAA Tournament games against Illinois and Kansas at Wells Fargo Arena, Johnson combined for 15 rebounds, including 10 offensive, in 31 minutes.

"Kamani has an incredible nose for the basketball," Arkansas Coach Eric Musselman said. "He comes up big in clutch situations."

Johnson, who transferred to Arkansas from the University of Arkansas-Little Rock, had a career 20 rebounds for the Trojans against Arkansas State University in 2020.

Smith scoreless

Arkansas beat Kansas with freshman guard Nick Smith -- a projected NBA Draft lottery pick -- going scoreless.

Smith, who came into the game averaging 13.5 points including highs of 26 against Georgia, 25 against Kentucky and 24 at Alabama, shot 0 of 4 on Saturday and didn't attempt a free throw in 16 minutes.

In the past six halves, Smith is 3 of 24 from the field. He shot 1 of 10 in the second half against Texas A&M in the SEC Tournament and 2 of 10 in the NCAA Tournament opener against Illinois.

Smith hit the game-winning shot and was 6 of 12 from the field when Arkansas beat Auburn 76-73 in its SEC Tournament opener and he shot 5 of 10 in the first half of Razorbacks' next game against Texas A&M.

Smith then shot 1 of 10 in the second half against the Aggies, who rallied to win 67-61 after trailing 38-25 at halftime.

Big comeback

Arkansas' two NCAA Tournament games against Kansas both have involved the winning team trailing by 12 points.

The Razorbacks beat the Jayhawks on Saturday after Arkansas trailed 46-34.

Kansas beat Arkansas 93-81 in a 1991 Elite Eight game in Charlotte, N.C., after the Jayhawks trailed 47-35.

The 12-point lead each team blew is their largest in an NCAA Tournament loss according to

Self out again

Kansas Coach Bill Self missed his fifth consecutive game recovering from a heart procedure.

"It was tough not having Coach Self, but we don't make any excuses" said Norm Roberts, the Jayhawks' long-time assistant who has served as head coach in Self's absence. "We have to line up and get the job done, and we came up a little bit short today."

Sweeping Kansas

Arkansas and Kansas played in the postseason for the second time this school year, including the Liberty Bowl in Memphis when the Razorbacks beat the Jayhawks 55-53 in triple overtime on Dec. 28 in Memphis.

In the Dance

Arkansas improved to 50-34 NCAA Tournament games. Kansas is 116-49.

In Des Moines

Arkansas Coach Eric Musselman coached in the NCAA Tournament for the second time, and he enjoyed his trip this week a lot more than the first time.

The Razorbacks are headed to the Sweet 16 for a third consecutive year after beating Illinois and Kansas in Des Moines.

In Musselman's first NCAA appearance in Des Moines in 2019, Florida beat his Nevada team 71-60. That was his last game with the Wolf Pack before being hired at Arkansas.

Vs. Jayhawks

Arkansas is 6-8 all-time against Kansas.

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