Another No. 1 seed has been knocked out of the NCAA Tournament, and this time it was the defending national champion.
Kansas, the top seed in the West Region, blew a 12-point lead in the second half and lost 72–71 to Arkansas in a second-round matchup in Des Moines, Iowa. With the win, the Jayhawks would be sent packing after a year of winning it all, while the Razorbacks would move on to the Sweet 16 for the third consecutive season.
The Razorbacks, the West’s No. 8 seed, used an 11–0 second-half run to get back in the game. A Jordan Walsh 3-pointer at 8:55 gave Arkansas its first lead since it was 2–0 in the opening minutes of the game. While Walsh’s shot was huge, it was Devonte Davis who scored for the Razorbacks down the stretch.
Hampered by four fouls in the half, Davis scored 21 of his 25 points in the second half, shocking the playmakers on the Kansas side. But when Davis fouled out with 1:56 to play, his teammates stepped up.
First, Ricky Council IV tied the game at 65–65 with a jumper, and then Kamani Johnson put in the go-ahead putback after an offensive rebound, his sixth of the game. And after Kansas tied it, Council put Arkansas ahead at the line for good.
Council attacked the basket and was fouled with 24 seconds to play. Council scored first, leading his team 68–67. He missed the second, but Jordan Walsh noticed and got on hand to turn the loose ball over to Council. Once the ball was back in his hands, Council saw a hole in the basket and attacked. He was fouled again. This time he extended the Razorbacks’ lead to 70–67 with 21 seconds left.
On the ensuing possession, Kansas took a 70–69 lead with two Jalen Wilson free throws. At that time there was less than 10 seconds left. This put Kansas in foul-mode. Council was up to the challenge and calmly sank two more free throws to make the score 72–69.
Up three, Arkansas alerted Kansas on the next possession to prevent any chance of a tying 3-pointer. The strategy worked. Wilson sank the first and second, even though he deliberately tried to miss it.
From there, it was all one inbound pass for the Razorbacks to run out the remaining time on the clock and seal a 72–71 lead big time.