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FutureStarrArkansas Ousts Defending Champ Kansas From March Madness
March Madness is an annual NCAA Division I men's and women's basketball tournament that takes place from mid-March to April. It has become a beloved event with plenty of excitement, anticipation, and energy surrounding it.
This year, 68 teams have qualified to compete in the tournament. It's an exciting time for fans and athletes alike as they anxiously await news of their fates.
Another thrilling upset in the opening round of March Madness as 8 seed Arkansas Razorbacks upset reigning champ Kansas 72-71 to advance to the Sweet 16. While top seeds often fall during this tournament, this one has been especially kind to lesser-known teams that have made it this far.
Midway through the second half, Kansas had built a double-digit lead over Arkansas; however, they crumbled in the final minutes to fall to their rival. It was another tough loss for Bill Self as he continues his recovery from heart surgery.
At various points during the game, Arkansas experienced several pivotal moments that helped them secure victory - including Ricky Council IV's clutch free throws in the closing seconds. The junior guard sank five of his six attempts from the charity stripe to keep Kansas at bay and secure the victory for Arkansas.
With the game tied at 70-69 and only 10 seconds left to go, Council IV calmly hit two more free throws to give Arkansas a lead of one point. He then drew the foul and hit two more shots to prevent Kansas from tying the score.
On the ensuing possession, Kansas' Jalen Wilson attempted to tie it up by shooting a 3-pointer, but his attempt went off the front of the rim. Arkansas quickly fouled Kansas and earned itself a technical foul.
Dajuan Harris of Kansas scored the next few points for Kansas, but his team would ultimately be outscored by Arkansas in the closing minutes of the game. It was a close contest throughout and Arkansas held Kansas to just 35 points in the first half.
Arkansas had a stellar second-half performance from Devo Davis, scoring 25 points to help the Razorbacks come back from an early 35-27 deficit. The junior guard also had an incredible put-back with 51 seconds remaining in the game to give Arkansas a commanding 67-65 lead.
On Saturday afternoon, Kansas University, the defending national champion, was eliminated in the second round of March Madness by Arkansas 72-71. After blowing a 12-point lead and going down to an Arkansas team coming off an NCAA Tournament loss, the Jayhawks couldn't overcome their deficit to finish with just seven points.
Ricky Council IV showed why he was considered one of the nation's top players by scoring 20 points on 10-of-17 shooting to help Arkansas secure their fourth consecutive conference title. After a slow start in the first half, Council went on to average 10 points per game after that and ended up leading all scorers with 20 points on 10-of-17 shooting to lift his team to victory.
Wichita State transfer Kyle Council scored all his points during the second half, sparking an 18-4 run that put Arkansas ahead by 14 with nine minutes left. After Davonte Davis made a layup, Council converted a steal into a basket and hit two free throws with 1:36 remaining for his third point of the game.
He then hit two more free throws with 54 seconds remaining, giving Arkansas a commanding 68-59 lead. But Illinois' Terrence Shannon Jr. hit a 3-pointer with 4.3 seconds left, setting up Council to make five free throws in the final seconds and send Arkansas into the second round for the first time since 1992.
Council, a transfer from Wichita State, had four rebounds and three assists to help the Razorbacks improve to 20-13. His performance was especially crucial after starters Jalen Graham and Devo Davis were limited to just four points on 2-of-8 shooting.
Last week, Council announced his departure from Wichita State for the transfer portal and would be eligible for the NCAA Tournament. He noted that he had received numerous offers and that several schools were interested in him.
With star freshman Nick Smith out of the lineup, Council has emerged as Arkansas' top scoring option and a great fantasy option for teams needing a high-scoring backcourt. In six games he's started this season, Council has averaged 11.4 points and 7.8 rebounds; reaching double digits in each one - making him an essential addition for any team needing an efficient scorer.
On Saturday, Arkansas rallied from a 12-point second-half deficit to defeat top-seeded Kansas 71-68. Ricky Council IV made five free throws in the final seconds and Davonte Davis scored 25 points as the Razorbacks (25-9) advanced to their third consecutive Sweet 16 after upending Gonzaga last year.
Arkansas raced out to a 15-8 lead in the first half and held Kansas to just 43-37 at intermission, then shut them out for nearly four minutes as it opened the second half on an 15-0 run. Furthermore, Arkansas forced 21 turnovers overall - 12 in the first half alone.
Georgia answered with a 6-0 run to cut Arkansas' lead to 32-30 with 3:48 remaining. However, Arkansas regained possession on two Davis steals and went on a 17-4 run over the next nine minutes for an impressive 70-56 advantage with just under 7:20 remaining.
Davis completed the comeback with his eighth 3-pointer of the half, making it 66-54 with 6:04 left. He then hit two foul shots to give Arkansas a commanding 72-68 lead with 24 seconds remaining.
After both teams exchanged free throws, Kansas' Jalen Wilson missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer with three seconds remaining. Council IV then rebounded his own miss and made two more free throws to give Arkansas the win.
The win gave Arkansas its sixth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance, a school record. It also propelled them past No. 2 Houston into Thursday's West Region semifinals against Saint Mary's or UConn.
Coach Eric Musselman returned to the West Region for a third straight year, his fourth consecutive at Arkansas and fifth overall. As his team celebrated on courtside with fans seated courtside, Musselman raced off to celebrate with them.
Musselman said his team had the right mindset for taking on top seeds, a belief shared by his players after winning their tournament championship. This mindset will serve them well this season as they seek success on all fronts.
Davis' second victory of the season came despite missing Sunday's scrimmage due to a knee injury. While he is expected to miss all but one game during 2022-23, Davis can still contribute during other games throughout that campaign. Unfortunately, however, his playing time may be limited going forward due to this injury.
Gradey Dick of Kansas scored 19 points and pulled down 11 rebounds for his first ever double-double in a 96-68 win against 16th seeded Howard on Thursday night. It also marked Dick's first NCAA Tournament game, an important win as they seek to become the first repeat national champion since 2004.
Kansas (28-7) earned a road win in the West Region and will take on Arkansas (21-13) for their second-round game on Saturday in Des Moines, Iowa. The Jayhawks have won 16 consecutive first-round matches and are striving to become only team in history to repeat as champions.
Kansas University started the game off on an 18-2 run to take a 19-point lead and never looked back. The Jayhawks made 15 of their initial 17 shots en route to finishing with 46-31 advantage in the second half.
Jalen Wilson and Gradey Dick led the charge with 3-point shooting, each making three of their first five attempts from the field and all but one from the free throw line. Dick led all scorers with 19 points, followed by Wilson (13), Adams (12) and Dixon (10).
Dajuan Harris Jr. had an impressive night, contributing seven assists to go with 12 points and five rebounds. He also had some key steals such as a contested shot that set up Kevin McCullar Jr. for a dunk and Joseph Yesufu's crucial basket off the break.
The freshman guard broke the school record for made 3-pointers in a season with 82, helping KU snap an 11-game streak without making one. He went 3 for 5 from beyond the arc.
Kansas University was the only unranked team left in the West Region, yet they managed to beat an undersized and athletic Arkansas. By keeping pressure on Arkansas early and often, KU kept them at bay without being overly concerned with their athleticism.
The Jayhawks are 3 1/2 points underdogs against the Razorbacks, but they have a rich history with Arkansas that includes five Sweet 16 appearances. This old rivalry has rekindled in recent years and requires them to be at their best to overcome an experienced and talented Arkansas squad.