The Arkansas Razorbacks avenged their 5-point road loss to Texas A&M just two weeks ago with a grinding 76-73 overtime victory over the Aggies on Saturday at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville, elevating the Hogs’ winning streak to four straight games and putting them above .500 in SEC play for the first time this season.
Sophomore big man Jaylin Williams notched his fourth double-double in the last five games — 14 points, game-high-matching 11 rebounds, game-high 6 steals, 3 assists, team-high 3 blocks, and 2 drawn charges in 42 minutes — as Arkansas blew out to a 20-4 lead, gave up a 6-point advantage in the final minute of regulation, and fell behind by two points twice in overtime before finishing the game on a 10-5 spurt to pull out the win in dramatic fashion.
Williams hit a fadeaway 16-footer at the end of the shot clock and with 10.7 seconds to play in the extra period to extend a 1-point Hogs’ lead to a 3-point advantage (74-71), the Hogs fouled on the ensuing possession resulting in a 2-of-2 free throw trip for A&M guard Wade Taylor IV with 5.5 seconds remaining (74-73), then after a couple of timeouts the Hogs beat the Aggies’ full-court press resulting in a dunk by senior combo forward Stanley Umude with 0:01 showing (76-73). What followed was A&M getting a pass from its baseline out-of-bounda beyond mid-court to guard Hassan Diarra, who launched an off-balance 40-foot three-pointer that hit the backboard & side of the rim but fell away unsucessfully as time expired.
“I work on that shot everyday,” Williams said during his post-game radio interview. “I just took it and it went in. I think our confidence is at an all-time high right now, and we just want to keep it rolling into next week.”
Arkansas (14-5, 4-3 SEC, NCAA NET No. 55 entering Saturday’s game) will indeed roll into next week in a three-way tie for 5th place in the SEC standings with Alabama and No. 24 Tennessee, just a half-game back of both A&M (15-4, 4-2 SEC, NCAA NET No. 57 entering Saturday’s game) and Mississippi State who are tied for 3rd-place, and only one game behind 2nd-place Kentucky.
The Razorbacks have their first four-game winning streak since the final week of November/first week of December when they capped off a 9-0 start in non-conference play.
The Hogs also improved to 11-1 in home games this season and have won 3 of their last 5 meetings against the Aggies — which includes A&M’s 86-81 home win over Arkansas on Jan. 8 — spanning the past three seasons. Arkansas leads A&M, 105-58, in the all-time series between the two programs that dates back to when both were members of the now-defunct Southwest Conference.
Senior guard and SEC leading scorer JD Notae paced the Hogs with 17 points (6-of-21 field goals shooting, including 1-of-10 from 3, and 3-of-3 free throws) to go with 6 rebounds, a team-high 4 assists, 3 steals, 1 block, and 5 turnovers in 31 minutes before fouling out with 1:09 to play in regulation. Umude contributed 15 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals, and 1 block in 44 minutes. Senior combo forward Au’Diese Toney finished with 14 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist, and 1 steal in 43 minutes. Senior forward Trey Wade chipped in 8 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist, and 1 block in 34 minutes. Sophomore guard Devo Davis tallied 4 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 steal in 20 minutes off the bench. Senior guard Chris Lykes also contributed in a reserve role, finishing with 6 points, 2 assists, 1 rebound, and 3 turnovers in 11 minutes.
The Hogs went wire-to-wire in regulation without trailing once, but their 6-point lead, 64-58, with 58 seconds remaining evaporated as A&M executed great clock management while getting a 3-of-3 free throw possession followed by a game-tying three-pointer by Diarra with 9 seconds left that knotted the score up at 64-all. The Hogs would get two more possessions from there without getting a good look for a shot as the game moved to overtime.
In the extra period, A&M took its first lead of the game on a layup by senior guard Quenton Jackson, and after the teams traded scores that left the Aggies still up by two, 68-66, the Hogs surged ahead for good when Davis drove in for a layup, was fouled, and made his free throw to put Arkansas back up, 69-68. A defensive stop by the Hogs was followed by a Williams dunk that put the Hogs ahead, 71-68, with 2:04 remaining in overtime. But Arkansas would make only 1-of-4 free throws from there before Taylor hit a triple for A&M that closed the gap to 72-71 at the 0:42 mark of the extra period. That set up Williams’ big perimeter shot at the end of the Hogs’ next possession that effectively iced the win.
After yielding 56.4% field goal shooting, including over 42.1% from 3, to A&M in the first meeting, the Hogs’ defense bowed up this time around while limiting the Aggies to only 23-of-62 shooting from the field (37.1%), including 8-of-26 from 3 (30.8%). And offensively coming off an 0-of-11 performance shooting three-pointers in a 75-59 home win over South Carolina on Tuesday — the first time Arkansas failed to make at least one triple in 1,092 games — the Hogs made 7-of-20 from distance (35.0%) on Saturday as five different Hogs hit at least one triple. Over field goal shooting for Arkansas was slightly better than that of the Aggies as the Hogs made 24-of-64 (37.5%). Arkansas made 21-of-25 from the foul line (84.0%) with A&M connecting well above its mediocre season efficiency by hitting 19-of-20 (95.0%).
Arkansas was plus-1 in rebounds (41-40, including a 13-12 edge in offensive rebounds), plus-10 in second-chance-points (19-9), plus-3 in turnovers (19-16, with 14 Hogs steals providing the bulk of the Aggies’ 19 giveaways), plus-2 in points-in-the-paint (26-24), and plus-6 in assists (16-10). A&M was plus-4 in points-off-turnovers (21-17), plus-13 in fastbreak points (16-3), plus-3 in blocks (9-6), and the Aggies were plus-37 in bench scoring (47-10).
Arkansas now sports a 4-4 record against teams ranked in the NCAA NET Top 100 (wins over Texas A&M, then-No. 12 LSU, Cincinnati, and Kansas State, and losses to Texas A&M, Vanderbilt, Mississippi State, and Oklahoma), and it’s 10-1 against teams ranked outside the NET Top 100. The Hogs improved 1-3 in Quad-1 games, 3-0 in Q2 games (includes the win over A&M), 2-2 in Q3 games, and 8-0 in Q4 games.
Third-year Head Hog Musselman moved to 58-24 overall leading Arkansas, which includes a 25-19 mark against SEC teams. He’s now 3-2 coaching head-to-head against Texas A&M and Aggies head coach Buzz Williams.
“It was an awesome win, obviously.” Musselman said during his post-game radio interview. “Our defense continues to get better, continues to improve. And then tonight we made some threes which opened up the game a little bit in the first half.
“We had the advantage, or the lead, for 41 minutes in a game. That is really, really hard to do. Obviously, they had a lead for a minute (and) 24 (seconds). So I give our guys a lot of credit. Everytime they threw a punch, we kind of countered and kept that game within striking distance. Obviously when JD fould out, it changes the dynamics of how we play and what offensive sets we run.”
The Aggies had only two players score in double figures — both played off the bench — as Taylor finished with a career-high 25 points (he made 5-of-8 from 3) and Jackson, the team’s leading scorer coming in, contributed 13 points.
Next up for Arkansas is a road game against SEC foe Ole Miss on Wednesday, Jan. 26, in Oxford, Miss.
Musselman went with a starting five of Notae, Williams, Toney, Umude, and Wade for the third consecutive game.
That lineup got Arkansas out to a 20-4 lead as the Hogs made 4 of their first 5 three-point attempts, but A&M chipped away at the deficit to outscore the Hogs 25-13 over the final 11:15 of the first half to pull within 33-29 at the break.
Umude had 7 first-half points to lead a balanced Arkansas attack with Notae and Toney each with 6 points and Wade and Williams each with 5 points.
Arkansas made 6-of-12 from 3 (50%) in the first 20 minutes compared to A&M’s 3-of-11 from distance (27.3%), but the Aggies made 8-of-9 from the free throw line (88.9%) compared to 3-of-4 for the Hogs (75%). A&M won the fast-break scoring battle (8-0), points-in-the-paint (8-6), rebounding (19-18), second-chance-points (5-4), and points-off-turnovers (11-10). The Hogs were plus-1 in turnovers (10-9).