The No. 18 Arkansas men’s basketball team and its suffocating defense held the Florida Gators to 2-10 from the field in the last 6:52 of Tuesday’s away game, as the Razorbacks prevailed 82-74 for their first win in Gainesville since 1995.
“This is a different team,” Arkansas head coach Eric Musselman said in the postgame press conference. “We’re a confident team on the road. You have a group that is not satisfied (with its recent success) and is hungry.”
The Gators got off to a red-hot start, hitting their first four 3-pointers of the game to take a 12-4 lead over Arkansas. The Razorbacks chipped away at the Florida lead and held a 16-14 lead at the 11:15 mark.
The Hogs kept the pressure on to take a 30-25 lead with 5:33 left in the half. Florida then put five straight on the board, tying the game at 30.
Arkansas scored seven straight, then Florida got back two baskets at the end of the half to cut the score to 37-34 in the Razorbacks’ favor at halftime.
Florida came out of the locker room on a tear. The Hogs held the lead until the Gators tied the game at 43 with 15:10 on the clock. Florida then took a 50-46 lead, but Arkansas fired back with four straight points to tie the game again.
Both teams held five-point leads over the course of the final 10 minutes, but neither could pull away. A 3-pointer from sophomore Jaylin Williams put the Hogs up 72-67 with 2:50 left in the game.
A Florida layup cut the gap to 72-71 with 1:26 remaining. Senior guard JD Notae sank a deep 3-pointer to give Arkansas some breathing room, and he hit a pair of free throws to bring the Razorbacks’ lead to six.
Sophomore guard Davonte Davis slammed home a dunk off a Florida turnover and hit the ensuing free throws to put an exclamation mark on the game and seal the Arkansas victory.
Davis was fantastic, dropping 19 points on 7-10 shooting and bringing some much needed offense when Arkansas had trouble finding the bottom of the net. He also was 2-3 from 3-point range, and he seemed to hit them when the Hogs needed points the most.
“Just knowing that I am able to play freely,” Davis said when asked what led to his improved play in recent games. “I just let the game come to me, and I know that whatever it takes to win, I’ll do it.”
Williams had the toughest assignment of the night covering Florida’s Colin Castelton. Castelton’s 6-foot-11-inch frame gave the 6-foot-10-inch Williams trouble all evening, and Castleton ended the game with 29 points. Williams, however, found multiple ways to impact the game outside of defense, putting up 15 points, 10 boards and a team-leading plus-15 rating.
The Razorbacks will host No. 6 Kentucky at 1 p.m. Saturday. The game will be broadcast on CBS.
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