GREENVILLE, S.C. — Survive and advance. The No. 8-seeded Arkansas Razorbacks (26-9) used a 15-3 run to end the game to pick up the first round victory over the No. 9-seeded Seton Hall Pirates (21-12) Friday afternoon 77-71 inside Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville, South Carolina.
Arkansas will face No. 1-seeded North Carolina Tarheels on Sunday, March 19 at a time yet to be determined.
The Razorbacks turned the defensive pressure up late. Up one with 24.6 seconds to go, Jaylen Barford and Moses Kingsley trapped Seton Hall’s Khadeen Carrington above the three-point line to draw the traveling call. 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.
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.
Arkansas improves to 5-1 in neutral site games this season and to 13-7 in its last 20 contests away from Bud Walton Arena. The Razorbacks have no won nine of their last 11 games.
Coming out of the locker room tied at 37-37, Seton Hall scored five straight to open the second half as the Razorbacks missed their first four shot attempts. Arkansas quickly responded. Going on a 14-4 run sparked by a monster rejection by Kingsley, the Razorbacks regained the lead at 51-46. The Pirates proceeded to make seven of their next eight shots to go on an 18-3 run to pull to their largest lead of the game, 62-54. That is when the comeback for the Razorbacks began. Arkansas scored five points off of four late turnovers by Seton Hall in the last six minutes, 47 seconds of the contest as well as holding the Pirates scoreless for a span of four minutes and 29 seconds.
Arkansas opened the game on fire, hitting seven of its first nine shots to take an early 17-12 lead over the Pirates. The Razorbacks were able to stretch their lead to six before Seton Hall went on a 12-4 run to take their first lead of the contest at 29-27. Arkansas had opportunities in the first half to extend their largest lead but let Seton Hall linger around, after only scoring two points on seven first-half turnovers by the Pirates. Kingsley led all scorers in the opening period, posting 15 points on 7-of-9 shooting, after sinking his five from the field.
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, 10th of his career. Barford posted his fifth 20-point game of the season, scoring 20 points and leading the team with seven rebounds. Dusty Hannahs scored 14 as Dustin Thomas tied his season high with 13 points.
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