SAN FRANCISCO — It took an effort that had not ever happened in college basketball to get it done but Arkansas is headed back to the Elite 8 thanks to a 74-68 win over top-ranked Gonzaga on Thursday afternoon inside Chase Center.
Arkansas became the first team to ever beat an AP No. 1 team in the regular season (vs Auburn on Feb 8) and defeat the AP No. 1 (overall #1 seed Gonzaga) in the NCAA Tournament (ESPN Stats).
Also, no men’s college basketball team had beaten two different No. 1 teams from the AP poll in the same season since 1992-93 when Georgia Tech beat Duke and North Carolina in the same season until the Razorbacks added No. 1 Gonzaga to the win column alongside a victory over No. 1 Auburn from the regular season.
Neither victory came easy, but Thursday’s win put the Hogs in the team’s second straight Elite Eight, something that had not happened since back-to-back trips to the Final at the end of the 1994 and 1995 seasons.
Arkansas’ defensive effort was the difference against the Bulldogs, holding the nation’s best scoring offense (87.8 points per game) and best shooting offense (52.6%) to just 68 points on 37.5% shooting.
After enduring a four-minute scoring drought midway through the first half, the Razorbacks responded with a 9-0 run to take the lead and finished the half on a 13-2 run to take a 32-29 lead into the locker rooms. The late half run was fueled by forcing four Gonzaga turnovers and holding the Zags to just 1-of-7 from the field over the final 6:29.
Gonzaga quickly he drew even to open the second half but again the Razorbacks answered with a run again fueled by defense. Arkansas held the Bulldogs without a field goal for nearly five minutes to help build an eight-point lead.
Nursing a five-point lead with just eight seconds left, Au’Diese Toney’s block of a Drew Timme shot was the final momentum swing the Hogs needed. Toney put an exclamation point on the victory with a dunk with one second remaining to keep the Hogs dancing.
JD Notae led the Razorbacks with 21 points, six assists and three steals. Jaylin Williams scored 15 points and grabbed 12 rebounds to record his 15th double-double of the season while becoming Arkansas’ all-time leader in rebounds in a single season. Trey Wade’s 15 points and seven rebounds were huge in the win and marked just the fourth time this season he has scored in double digits.
Timme led Gonzaga with 25 points. Chet Holmgren scored 11 points and had 14 rebounds before fouling out.
Arkansas will face #2 seed Duke in the Elite 8. Tipoff is set for 7:49 pm (CT) and the game will be televised on TBS.
FIRST HALF: Arkansas: 32, Gonzaga: 29
• Both teams were having success on the offensive end with the Gonzaga leading 16-14 at the second media timeout (11:54).
• Over the next five minutes, Gonzaga used a 6-0 run to lead 22-17 at the under eight media timeout (7:26).
• Jaylin Williams became the school’s single-season leader for rebounds, passing Derek Hood’s 349 in 1998-98. Williams tied the mar at 5:12 then surpassed Hood with is eighth rebound of the game with 3:53 left in the first half.
• Arkansas used a 7-0 run to get to within one, 27-26, before taking a timeout at 2:46. The Hogs extended the run to 9-0 in a Jaylin Williams dunk to give the Hogs a 28-27 lead.
• Jaylin Williams took his second charge of the half (52nd of the year) with six seconds left and Notae hit a layup as time expired to give Arkansas a 32-39 lead at the break.
• Notae led the Hogs with 10 points and Williams had eight rebounds.
• Arkansas held Gonzaga to 37.5 FG% in the first half and 16.7 3PT% (2-of-12). The Bulldogs entered the game as the NCAA leader in FG% at 53.6% and were 24th in 3PT% at 37.4%.
SECOND HALF: Arkansas: 42, Gonzaga: 39
• Gonzaga scored the first four points of the second half to take a one-point lead. The teams traded baskets and Chet Holmgren tied the game at 36-36 with 16:54 left. Trey Wade drained a 3-pointer and the Hogs did not give up the lead the rest of the half.
• Au’Diese Toney converted an old-fashion 3-point play at 8:36 in the period to give Arkansas a 52-46 lead. The six-point lead was the largest of the game by the Hogs through the first 27:28 of the game.
• Jaylin Williams scored a jumper in the lane with 7:53 left to Arkansas an eight-point lead and give him 10 points and secure his 15th double-double of the season.
• Gonzaga got to within four (66-62) with 1:27 left but the Hogs made six straight at the line inside the final 21 seconds to seal the win.
• Arkansas’ starting lineup was JD Notae – Au’Diese Toney – Stanley Umude – Trey Wade – Jaylin Williams for the 19th game (17-2).
• Gonzaga won the opening tip and Arkansas is 8-1 in games the opponent wins the tip.
• Gonzaga’s Rasir Boulton scored the game’s first points at 18:26. Jaylin Williams had Arkansas’ first points at 18:26.
• Kamani Johnson was the first sub for Arkansas. It is just the second time this season he has been the first sub for the Hogs. The other was when Arkansas defeated then #1 Auburn.
• Arkansas was just 1 of 5 schools to make the Sweet 16 this year and last year along with Gonzaga, Houston, Michigan and Villanova.
• Arkansas is now 1-1 all-time versus Gonzaga.
• Arkansas is now 8-5 in NCAA Sweet 16 games and advanced to its 11th Elite 8.
• Arkansas is now 3-11 versus AP #1 in program history. The Hogs defeated #1 North Carolina in Pine Bluff and deafted Auburn in Bud Walton Arena earlier this season.
• Arkansas gets its first win over AP #1 in the NCAA Tournament. Previous losses came to North Carolina (2008 2nd Rd) • UMass (1996 Sweet 16) • UCLA (1995 NCAA Championship Game) • Indiana State (1979 Elite 8) • Kentucky (1978 Final Four)
• Arkansas is 3-1 this season in games the Razorbacks are ranked and played a ranked team. In program history, Arkansas is 45-49 when the Hogs are ranked and facing a ranked opponent.
• Arkansas becomes the 16th #4 seed to defeat a #1 seed in the Sweet 16 and the first since Michigan State beat Virginia in 2014 (NCAA).
• Arkansas forced 15 turnovers but only committed eight. Arkansas had six blocked shot compared to three by Gonzaga. The Bulldogs entered the game #6 in the NCAA in blocked shots per game (5.9).
• Arkansas has won 18 of is last 21 games. The Hogs held the Zags to 37.5% FG and 23.8% 3PT. Arkansas has held 14 of 21 in the span to below 40% shooting and 16 of 21 below 31% from deep.
• Arkansas is 22-1 this year when leading at the half and 55-3 in the Eric Musselman era.
• JD Notae is the first Hog in at least 25 years to get at least 21 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals and 2 blocks in a game.
• JD Notae enters the school’s single-season top 10 for scoring with 646 points.
• Trey Wade was 3-of-4 from 3-point range. The 3 triples are his most in a Razorback uniform. His seven rebounds ties for his second-most rebounds as a Razorback.
• Chris Lykes made two free throws with 15 seconds left. He is now 46-of-49 (.939) at the line inside the final three minutes and overtime.
• Kamani Johnson was the first sub off the bench for the second time. Arkansas is 2-0 in those games beating No. 1 Auburn and Gonzaga.
• Au’Diese Toney had two blocked shots to tie his career high (his fifth time to do so).
Information from Arkansas Communications is included in this story.