INDIANAPOLIS — Arkansas men’s basketball clinched its first Sweet 16 appearance since 1996 with a 68-66 win over Texas Tech at Hinkle Fieldhouse on Sunday.
The No. 3 seed Razorbacks were led by forward Justin Smith, a graduate transfer from Indiana who had 20 points on 9-of-11 shooting from the field, along with six rebounds and two assists in 38 minutes. Davonte Davis and Moses Moody pitched in 15 points apiece, as well.
After the game, Smith said, “It feels good, but this is why I came here. I came here to win, and that’s it. And to have it come true, to have it come to fruition, it’s just a testament to all the hard work that we put in over these nine months.”
“We’re just going to keep on going and see how far we can go,” he added.
The Razorbacks went on a 7-0 run to make it a 65-57 game with 3:55 left before the 6-seed Red Raiders answered with a 6-0 run of their own to make it 65-63 with 3:06 left.
“We know that the game is never over and we have to keep playing,” Smith said. “We are not going to allow them to make a run, but we understand it’s a possibility that’s going to happen, and we have to be able to respond and not panic.
“That just shows the kind of savvy and just level-headedness that we have as a team to be able to deal with these runs that some teams may fold under.”
A dunk from Smith with 2:51 left was the last made shot of the game for either team. Texas Tech’s Kyler Edwards missed a contested layup with two seconds left, and Arkansas’ JD Notae dribbled out the rebound for the win.
Head coach Eric Musselman is the third coach to take Arkansas to the Sweet 16 since the round began in 1975, joining Hall of Famers Nolan Richardson and Eddie Sutton.
Arkansas will face 15th-seeded Oral Roberts for a trip to the Elite Eight on Saturday.