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BUFFALO, N.Y. – For the first time since three straight trips to the Sweet 16 from 1993-95, the Arkansas Razorbacks are headed back to the Sweet 16 for the second consecutive season thanks to a hard-fought, 53-48 win over New Mexico State inside KeyBank Center on Saturday night.
The Razorbacks and Aggies put on a defensive clinic with a trip to the Sweet 16 on the line. Both teams struggled to score in the first half until, a 10-0 Arkansas run finally provided some separation. The Hogs held the Aggies to just 24% shooting in the first half, including 2-for-15 from 3-point range. The defense allowed Arkansas to take a nine-point lead into the break, but defense was the theme of the night, including the second half.
New Mexico State battled back to open the second frame, applying defensive clamps of their own and holding Arkansas to just three made field goals over nearly the first 12 minutes of the half. While the Razorbacks were struggling to score, the Aggies chipped away at the lead to finally take their first lead of the night 33-32 with an and-1 from Johnny McCants.
The Razorbacks’ response changed the game for good. Jaylin Williams immediately answered McCants’ three-point play with a pair of free throws to put Arkansas back in front. Two more free throws from JD Notae pushed the lead to three and a 3-pointer from Stanley Umude kept it rolling. Au’Diese Toney’s breakaway dunk capped the 9-0 run and swung momentum the Hogs’ way with 6:06 remaining.
For the second straight game, free throws made the difference down the stretch. Toney’s slam that capped the 9-0 rally would be the last Arkansas field goal of the night, but the Hogs iced it from the charity stripe making 9-of-10, including 4-for-4 from Chris Lykes, to seal the victory.
Notae led all scorers with 18 points while also matching the school record for steals in an NCAA Tournament game with a career-high eight. Williams notched his second double-double in as many games and his 14th of the season with 10 points and an NCAA-Tournament, school record 15 rebounds. Umude added nine points and eight boards.
However, the star of the game was Au’Diese Toney’s defense versus WAC Player of the Year Teddy Allen. Allen entered the game averaging 19.8 ppg and scored 37 in the first-round win over UConn. However, Toney held Allen to just 12 points on 5-of-16 shooting (2-of-6 from deep) with five coming inside the final 1:10 (a 3-pointer at 1:10 and a dunk with two second left).
The Razorbacks advance to the Sweet 16 to take on top-seeded Gonzaga. The Hogs will travel to the West Coast regardless to play inside the Chase Center, the home of the Golden State Warriors, on Thursday, March 24.
FIRST HALF: Arkansas: 26 – New Mexico State: 17
• The teams got off to a slow start as Arkansas led 3-2 at the first media timeout (15:37).
• Defense continued to dominate on both ends as the score was tied, 9-9, with 7:49 left.
• The Hogs forced four turnovers over 5:27 and held the Aggies to 1-of-9 shooting to take a 17-11 lead at the final media timeout (3:54).
• Overall, Arkansas went on a 17-2 run – including seven straight by JD Notae, to lead 24-11. The run ended with an Aggie basket at 1:36.
• Despite a 4-point play by the Aggies with one second left, Arkansas held New Mexico State to 17 first-half points – the fewest points by an Arkansas opponent in an NCAA game. (The previous record was 18 by Wyoming in 1941 – Arkansas’ first NCAA Tournament game.)
• Also, despite the 4-point play, Arkansas out-scored the Aggies 19-7 to close the first half.
• Notae led Arkansas with 121 first-half points and Jaylin Williams led the team with 10 first-half rebounds.
• Arkansas held the Aggies to 24% shooting from the field.
SECOND HALF: Arkansas: 27 – New Mexico State: 31
• New Mexico State opened the second half on a 13-4 run to tie the game at 30-30 with 11:45 to play.
• Neither team scored over the next 3:26 until a Jaylin Williams layup at 8:19. The Aggies took their first lead (33-32) since 9-7 at 9:21 in the first half on an old-fashion 3-point play.
• Arkansas answered with 7-0 run to lead 41-33, starting with two Jaylin Williams’ free throws and ending with an Au’Diese Toney dunk at 6:06 which was the last field goal the Hogs would make. The Hogs held the lead the rest of the way.
• Arkansas only made five second-half field goals (5-of-24) but was 16-of-18 at the free throw line in the second half.
• Arkansas’ starting lineup was JD Notae – Au’Diese Toney – Stanley Umude – Trey Wade – Jaylin Williams for the 18th game (16-2).
• Arkansas won the opening tip and are 20-7 in such games.
• NM State’s Teddy Allen scored the game’s first points, jumper at the elbow at 19:11. Stanley Umude answered with a 3-pointer at 18:53.
• Davonte Davis was the first Razorback sub.
• Arkansas improves to 47-33 all-time in the NCAA Tournament and is 11-10 in second-round games.
• Arkansas is 3-0 all-time versus the Aggies with wins on Dec. 4, 1957, in Fayetteville and Nov. 28, 1998, in Fairbanks, Alaska.
• Arkansas leads the NCAA in both free throws made (613) and attempts (808). The Hogs were 22-of-25 at the line versus New Mexico State It marked the 12th time this season Arkansas has made at least 20 free throws and the 13th time the Hogs have shot over 80% at the line.
• Arkansas forced 19 turnovers thanks to 12 steals. It was the eighth time the Hogs had double-digits steals this season.
• The Razorbacks make their 13th all-time Sweet 16 and second consecutive appearance in the Sweet 16 . It is the first since to make back-to-=back Sweet 16’s since making a record three straight in 1993, ’94 and ’95.
• Jaylin Williams broke the school record for rebounds by a Razorback in the NCAA Tournament with 15 boards. Five different Hogs were tied for the record with 14, including Justin Smith who matched the mark last season.
• JD Notae’s eight steals set a career-best mark, passing his previous of high of seven vs. Mercer, and matched the Arkansas record for steals in an NCAA Tournament game held by Darrell Hawkins (1993 vs Holy Cross) and Alvin Robertson, who did it twice (1984 vs Virginia and 1983 vs Purdue).
• Chris Lykes was 4-of-4 at the free throw line inside the final 10 seconds. He is 44-of-47 (.936) at the line inside the final three minutes and overtime this season. Earlier this year, he was 10-of-10 at the line vs Kansas State (all in the final 1:46) and 4-of-4 at the line inside the final 21 seconds versus Cincinnati.
• JD Notae’s 18 points were his best performance in an NCAA Tournament game.
• Arkansas is 21-1 this season when leading at the half (line loss was Vanderbilt) and is 55-3 in such games in the Musselman era.
• Coach Musselman is 2-9 as a collegiate head coach when scoring less than 60 points in a game, 2-1 at Arkansas. (Arkansas is 2-0 this season including a 58-48 win over Tennessee in Fayetteville.)
• Coach Musselman is 41-1 as a collegiate head coach when holding opponents to fewer than 60 points, including 21-0 at Arkansas. Also, Muss is 10-0 all-time (8-0 at Arkansas) when holding opponents to fewer than 40 points.
• Jaylin Williams now has 342 rebounds this season which is seven shy of the school’s single season mark of 349 by Derek Hood (1998-98).
For more information on Arkansas Men’s Basketball, follow @RazorbackMBB on Twitter.
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