BUFFALO, N.Y. - It's all about surviving and advancing in the NCAA Tournament and Arkansas did just that Thursday night in a 75-71 victory over Vermont in the first round of the NCAA Tournament inside KeyBank Center.
The #17/18 Razorbacks (seeded 4th) and Catamounts (seeded 13th) were close throughout the night with neither team letting the other take too big of a lead despite both teams making runs. Arkansas used a 9-0 run to gain control in the first half and took a 34-27 lead into the half thanks to Devo Davis' 10 points off the bench.
The Catamounts made their biggest run of the night with a 12-0 spurt in the second half that pulled Vermont back into the game with under 16 minutes remaining. The two teams remained close the rest of the way. The Razorbacks, however, finally put the game away down the stretch at the free throw line to put the finishing touches on a second half that saw the Hogs go 16-of-18 from the line.
Stanley Umude, who had nine rebounds, led the Hogs with 21 points as one of four Razorbacks in double digits. JD Notae scored 17 - with seven rebounds and four assists - and Davis added 14 points off the bench. Jaylin Williams notched his 13th double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds.
Ryan Davis and Ben Shungu each scored 20 points for Vermont in the loss.
Arkansas advances to take on 12-seed New Mexico State in the second round on Saturday (Mar. 19). Tip off is set for 7:40 pm (CT) and the game will be televised on TNT.
FIRST HALF: Arkansas: 34 - Vermont: 27
Davonte Davis sparked the Hogs with eight early points off the bench. Down four (17-13 with 11:28 left), Arkansas used a 9-0 run to take its first lead and extend it to 22-17. Arkansas took their first lead (18-17) at 9:36 when Jaylin Williams scored off his own miss. Vermont tied the game at 27-27 with 1:46 left before the Razorbacks ended the half on a 7-0 run to lead 34-27 at the break. Davis led Arkansas with 10 points and Stanley Umude added nine. Arkansas had eight assists on 13 made baskets and only committed two turnovers.
SECOND HALF: Arkansas: 41 - Vermont: 44
Arkansas got a stop and scored to open the second half to push the run to 9-0. Vermont answered with a 12-0 run to lead 39-36 at 15:33. The lead bounced back and forth until Umude made two free throws at 9:34 to give the Hogs a 52-51 lead. Arkansas then extended the lead to nine (67-58) with 4:25 left and held the advantage the rest of the way. JD Notae, held scoreless in the first half, led the Hogs with 17 second-half points while Umude had 12 second-half points. The teams combined for just four second-half turnovers - one by Vermont and three by Arkansas.
- Arkansas' starting lineup was JD Notae - Au'Diese Toney - Stanley Umude - Trey Wade - Jaylin Williams for the 17th game (15-2).
- Vermont's Ben Shungu scored the game's first points, a 3-pointer at 19:13. Au'Diese Toney answered with a 3-pointer at 19:01.
- The victory makes Arkansas 18-8 in first round games of the NCAA Tournament. Arkansas is now 46-33 all time in NCAA Tournament games.
- The Razorbacks have now won first-round games in consecutive NCAA Tournaments for the first time since 1998 (Nebraska) and '99 (Siena).
- Arkansas committed only five turnovers - the lowest total by the Razorbacks in an NCAA Tournament game and tying a season low (UNI). The previous low in an NCAA Tournament game was nine on two occasions (Butler in 2018 and St. John's in 1985).
- Stanley Umude is the first Razorback to play 40 minutes in an NCAA tournament game and have zero turnovers.
- Au'Diese Toney has the second-best total as he played 39:53 without a turnover.
- Jaylin Williams extended his own school record when he drew his NCAA-best 50th charge of the season. Williams' 13 double-doubles ties for seventh on the school's single-season list. The record is 18.
- Williams had 10 rebounds to give him 327 for the season. It ranks second on the school's single-season list. The record is 349 by Derek Hood.