Arkansas hold off Seton Hall 77-71 in NCAA Tournament opener

GREENVILLE, S.C. — Survive and advance. No. 8 seed Arkansas used a 15-3 run to end the game and pick up a 77-71 victory over No. 9 seed Seton Hall on Friday afternoon in the first round of the NCAA tournament at Bon Secours Arena.

The Razorbacks (26-9) will face No. 1 seed North Carolina on Sunday, March 19 at a time yet to be determined.

With the win, Arkansas moves to 20-11 all-time in NCAA Tournament openers and extends its streak of opening round wins to three. The Razorbacks hold a 42-30 record all-time in the Big Dance, including a 2-1 mark under Mike Anderson.

The Razorbacks turned the defensive pressure up late and forced a traveling call on Seton Hall’s Khadeen Carrington with just 24.6 seconds to play. Jaylen Barford was then sent to the line after a flagrant foul on Seton Hall to give the Razorbacks a three-point lead and the ball. The Razorbacks closed the game sinking five of their six free throws to capture the six-point victory.

Arkansas improves to 5-1 in neutral site games this season and 13-7 in its last 20 contests away from Bud Walton Arena. The Razorbacks have now won nine of their last 11 games overall.

Coming out of the locker room tied at 37-37, Seton Hall scored five straight points to open the second half as the Razorbacks missed their first four shot attempts. Arkansas quickly responded however, going on a 14-4 run sparked by a monster rejection by Moses Kingsley to extend the lead to 51-46.

The Pirates proceeded to make seven of their next eight shots to go on an 18-3 run of their own to take a 62-54 lead with less than 10 minutes to play. The Razorbacks would clamp down on defense from there and force Seton Hall into four late turnovers, holding the Pirates scoreless for over four minutes of action.

It was a team effort on the glass, as the Razorbacks got 16 of their 32 rebounds from their guards, with Barford and Daryl Macon each having five-plus.

With a 23-point, six-rebound performance, Kingsley led all scorers, recording his second 20-point game of the season and 10th of his career. Barford posted his fifth 20-point game of the year, scoring 20 points and leading the team with seven rebounds. Dusty Hannahs added 14 points and Dustin Thomas tied his season high with 13 points.

WHAT THEY HAD TO SAY
Dusty Hannahs on Moses Kingsley’s effort: “I’ve played with Moses since tenth grade, and he’s just grown as a player every year that I’ve ever been around him. And now it’s almost peak Moses, and I’m glad that the world got to see him. It’s fun to play with him and on that defensive end you better come in there strong or it’s going to get whipped right back out there.

Head Coach Mike Anderson on Dustin Thomas’ performance: “It was big. It was huge. He knocked down a few wide-open shots which we needed because the bigs weren’t coming out to guard him. We needed him to stretch the floor and make good baskets. He was good on the defense. So he played very, very great, and also in the game to help us get this win.