The Jayhawks’ worst nightmare regarding their NCAA tournament game with Arkansas in the second round came true. As a result, the Jayhawks can no longer defend their championship from the previous year. The Razorbacks defeated Kansas, the top seed in the West, 72-71. The Razorbacks eliminated a No. 1 seed from the tournament for the second straight season, having done so against Gonzaga last year. This time, coach Eric Musselman jumped up on a courtside table at Wells Fargo Arena, removed his shirt, and led Arkansas fans in a “Pig Sooie” cheer.
Photo Cred: The Kansas City Star
The eighth-seeded team in the region, Arkansas, will advance to the Sweet 16. After Purdue, Kansas is the second top seed to lose in this year’s tournament. As great as Musselman and the Razorbacks’ victory was, the Jayhawks’ loss was just as painful. They aimed to become the first champions to win consecutive years since Florida in 2006 and 2007.
Photo Cred: Reuters
Due to his ongoing recovery after a cardiac procedure, Bill Self, the head coach of the Jayhawks, was absent on Saturday. One of Kansas’ best three-point shooters, Gradey Dick, who had seven points, was shut down by Arkansas. Razorbacks guard Davonte Davis put on an incredible second-half performance to help Arkansas mount a ferocious comeback after falling behind by as many as 12 points.
“I’ve been coaching a long time, and that’s as great of a win as I’ve ever been a part of because of the history of Kansas,” Musselman said. “A lot of people didn’t think we were going to win our first-round game.”
Photo Cred: NCAA.com
Ricky Council IV and Nick Smith Jr., Arkansas’ top two scorers in the regular season, were having trouble, so Davis carried his team. He scored 21 points in the second half on 7 of 9 shots, several of which were contested. Going into the game, Kansas was concerned about the length, depth, and athletic ability of the Razorbacks, and indeed those Arkansas qualities turned out to be a problem for Kansas.