HawgBeat – Arkansas beats Illinois to advance in NCAA tournament

The 8-seeded Arkansas Razorbacks kept their season alive with a 73-63 win over 9-seeded Illinois in the first round of the NCAA tournament at the Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa.

Right from the first point, the Arkansas pace was noticeably too much for the Illini. The Razorbacks led 37-15 of the game and forced 17 turnovers by the Illini.

Ricky Council IV recorded a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds while Vonste Davis added 16 points and six boards.

Here’s a recap of Thursday’s competition, which was Arkansas’ third straight first-round win in the NCAA tournament.

A 0-of-7 performance from the field early in the game didn’t affect the Razorbacks much, as they then hit their next three shots and started an 8-0 run while holding the Illini for a 4:51 period kept goalless .

Though the Illini had a shoeless Matthew Mayer for possessions at least, he managed to keep things within reach thanks to a trio of robberies from Coleman Hawkins. The U12 media timeout came just in time for Mayer, who was relieved to put his shoe back on as his team trailed 12-7.

Both teams started the game with a combined 8-of-30 score from the field, and by the middle of the first half there had been a total of six steals and nine turnovers.

Arkansas’ lead grew to 11 by the 7:30 mark, and Illinois was shooting just 22.2% from the field at that point.

The Illini started putting down three balls, but the duo of Anthony Black and Council combined a quick 9-3 run to give the Razorbacks a 14-point lead on the final media timeout of the first half.

After zero points in the first 16-10 of the game, Illinois star guard Terrence Shannon Jr. scored eight goals in just over two minutes to cut the Razorbacks’ lead to 34-26 with just two minutes remaining in the first halftime.

A put-back layup by Kamani Johnson ended the goal in the first 20 minutes and gave Arkansas a 36-26 lead at the break. The Hogs were up nine on the boards and they shot 42.4% from the field compared to Illinois’ 27.6% in the first half.

The Illini started the second half with a 7-2 run to cut Arkansas’ lead to five in under three minutes. A pair of free throws from Black and back-to-back buckets from Davis put the Razorbacks back in the lead with 11 just under 14 minutes to play.

Makhi Mitchell put a spin move on the defender and put in his second basket of the game to give Arkansas a best 15-point lead of the game (at the time) forcing a timeout from Illinois with 12:23 to close play.

Arkansas went 17 points ahead, but Illinois reduced that to nine by the U-8 media timeout with an 8-0 personal run from RJ Melendez.

The Illini stayed on and a 7-0 run allowed them to reduce Arkansas’ lead to 62-57 with 2-29.

A Davis steal became a transitional layup for Council, and that was Illinois’ setback.

The Razorbacks blew off nine shots at the free throw line late in the game to keep the lead out of reach and fight the next day.

Next, the Razorbacks take on the Kansas Jayhawks in the Round of 16 at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa. Game time and channel will be announced at a later date.

Source : arkansas.rivals.com

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