The second No. 1 seed in the NCAA Men’s Tournament fell before the Sweet 16.
No. 8 Arkansas knocked out No. 1 Kansas 72-71 with a spirited second-half surge and late free throws from Ricky Council IV.
The Razorbacks trailed by 10 midway through the second half. An 11-0 run gave them a 52-51 lead on a Jordan Walsh three-pointer with 8:55 to go.
The lead swung back and forth until Jalen Wilson tied the game with 39 seconds left on two free throws.
The board then headed for the basket and was cut by Kevin McCullar Jr. A blocking foul was called. The Council would make the first of two attempts. His second shot missed but he got the offensive rebound and was fouled while attempting a shot. The Board then sank two free throws to put Arkansas up three.
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“Yeah, obviously I didn’t want to miss, let’s go,” Coucil said. “I think Jordan hustled, got a tip and I remember he was tipped off about Jalen Wilson and it came straight to me and I was like, either I can attack this, because I was literally on the free throw line when I got it or I could take it back. I just decided to attack. I knew that in the worst case scenario, I was probably going to be fouled I did both, so I think it was up to 3 after that.
Wilson added two free throws for Kansas on his next trip. The Jayhawks then fouled Council, who made two more free throws.
Arkansas fouled Wilson on the ensuing possession with three seconds left. Wilson made two free throws and Kansas couldn’t foul in time before time expired.
It’s the third straight Sweet 16 appearance for Arkansas, which knocked out No. 1-seeded Gonzaga in last year’s tournament.
“This season has been as tough and full of ups and downs as ever,” Razorbacks coach Eric Mussselman said. “For these guys to be rewarded for persevering and being able to go to Las Vegas and compete with only 16 teams left standing, it’s really tough to make this tournament. It’s really tough to win a game in this tournament. It’s really tough to beat the defending champions, seeded No. 1. We did it, proud of ourselves.
Davonte Davis led the Razorbacks with 25 points, including 21 in the second half before a foul. The Board finished with 21 points. Wilson led all Kansas scorers with 20 points. The loss before the Sweet 16 was a disappointing end for the Jayhawks after winning the national title last season and the Big 12 regular season this year.
They were playing without coach Bill Self, who missed the Big 12 Tournament and the first two games of the NCAA Tournament after being hospitalized last week for a heart procedure.
“It was a tough game, give Arkansas a lot of credit,” said Norm Roberts, who was replacing Self. “They did a great job in the second half attacking us. Davis played out of this world, really shot a lot but we knew he was good at it and then he really hurt us on the glass We had a few rebounds we had to get them, we didn’t get them, but give them credit.”
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