OPINION — Like It Is

Razorbacks’ thrilling win one to remember

DES MOINES, Iowa -- It will go down as one of the most historic wins in Arkansas Razorbacks history.

At 6:37 Saturday night, Kansas -- the storied basketball program and defending national champs -- a No. 1 seed, ran out of time and answers for the Razorbacks and Eric Musselman's March magic continued with the 72-71 win.

At 6:38, in front of loud, proud crowd of Hog callers, Musselman ripped off his shirt in a wild celebration of "the greatest win I've ever been a part of."

For the third consecutive season, Musselman and his rampaging Razorbacks are headed to the Sweet 16.

No, Jayhawk head coach Bill Self was not there, but it wouldn't have mattered, Arkansas wanted it more in the second half, when it outscored Kansas 45-36 and 32 of those points came from Davonte "Devo The Destroyer" Davis and Ricky Council.

No one could have been more humble than Davis, who scored 21 second-half points and grabbed eight rebounds for the game before fouling out 1:56 to play.

"We all did something to win," the junior from Jacksonville said quietly.

Arkansas trailed 42-31 when Davis took over the game, scoring 14 of the Razorbacks' next 18 points while their defense was getting stop after stop and holding the Jayhawks to nine points during that time span.

After Davis closed it to 51-49, freshman Jordan Walsh hit a three-pointer for a Razorback lead.

The Hogs led the Jayhawks just 1:44 of the game.

It went back and forth the final 10 minutes. But when Davis got his fifth foul, Kansas led 66-63 with 1:56 to play. That's when Musselman called for Council to take over for Davis and the transfer from Wichita State scored six of the Hogs last eight points.

After the game, Davis, Council and Musselman met with the press for 12 minutes and while Council teased Davis saying he didn't take over the game, Davis was right, it was a team win.

Kamani Johnson, who didn't play against Texas A&M in the SEC Tournament, has started both NCAA Tournament games. On Saturday, the senior led all players with 10 rebounds and his second field goal was a rebound putback that gave the Hogs a 67-66 lead.

That came after the defense stymied the Jayhawks into a shot clock violation.

Walsh, a freshman, came off the bench and scored 10 points. But he played 33 minutes of defense that frustrated the Jayhawks into mental mistakes that allowed him to get two key steals.

Freshman Anthony Black put his offensive game on the back burner to focus on defense. Makhi Mitchell came off the bench to block, screen and harass the Jayhawks.

Nick Smith, who is in a bit of shooting slump going back to the second half of the win over Auburn in the SEC Tournament, got two quick fouls. But Davis pointed out how good of defense the freshman played.

In a game that had only five ties and four lead changes, mostly in the final 10 minutes, the Arkansas defense held the Jayhawks to no field goals the last 3:48 and they were 5 of 6 on free throws.

The celebration began immediately and was immense.

Arkansas fans had their own allotted section but all around Wells Fargo Arena were fans who managed to find tickets and were willing to endure a wind chilled temperature of 11 degrees.

Davis thanked the fans for the team.

Musselman was on top of his game from start to finish, making the right substitutions and moves at the right time.

Arkansas started like the weather, cold, and fell behind 13-4, but there was no quit in these Razorbacks and Davis, the defensive shut-down specialist, had the game of his life and said afterward he was still in awe of what the team did.

It was not an upset but a historical win.

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