ARK MBB Hall of Fame Classic

Arkansas guard JD Notae tries to get past a Cincinnati defender during the Hogs’ 73-67 victory over the Bearcats on Tuesday night.

The Arkansas men’s basketball team took home the Hall of Fame Classic Championship trophy Tuesday night after beating the Cincinnati Bearcats 73-67 in a tight contest in Kansas City, Missouri.

Senior guard Au’Diese Toney was named tournament MVP, mainly because of his performance Tuesday. The transfer senior held Cincinnati’s leading scorer, Jeremiah Davenport, scoreless and led the Hogs with 19 points.

“(Arkansas head coach Eric Musselman) told me Davenport is a good scorer,” Toney said in the postgame press conference. “If he’s not going, they’re not going. I just did my job.”

Neither team had much going offensively in the first half. Arkansas shot just 29% from the field and had nine turnovers compared to eight assists in the first period. Cincinnati shot 34% and held a 30-26 lead at halftime.

The offensive struggles continued into the second half. Arkansas’ best offense came from hustle plays, forced turnovers and offensive rebounds. Toney was important on the offensive glass and found most of his team-leading points on second chances.

The Hogs tied the game at 35 with 16:23 remaining in the second half thanks to a Chris Lykes fadeaway, but the Bearcats answered with a 3-pointer and did not relinquish the lead. Senior guard JD Notae hit a tough layup with 12:51 remaining to give the Hog their first lead of the second half at 41-40.

The two teams continued to trade the advantage on the scoreboard through fast but sloppy play. A Lykes transition 3-pointer, followed by an Arkansas defensive stop that quickly turned into a Toney layup gave the Hogs the momentum and a 61-59 lead with 5:23 remaining in the game.

The Bearcats took a 67-66 lead with 2:11 on the clock after Cincinnati made two free throws, and the Razorbacks answered with two of their own from Toney after Notae poked the ball loose and passed it from the floor to regain the lead at the 1:31 mark.

Arkansas iced the game what it did best Tuesday: rebounding. With less than a minute remaining, the Razorbacks recovered two offensive boards and forced the Bearcats to start intentionally fouling. The Hogs hit their foul shots and never looked back. After a few stoppages, sophomore forward Jaylin Williams sank the final free throw of the game and the Hogs were crowned champions of the 2021 Hall of Fame Classic.

Arkansas outrebounded Cincinnati 46-32. Williams led the team in rebounds with 11.

“I know Cincinnati prides themselves on toughness,” Musselman said. “They’re a really good rebounding team. Could not be prouder of our team on the backboards, both offensively and defensively.”

Arkansas will return home to Fayetteville to take on Penn at 4 p.m. Sunday at Bud Walton Arena. The game will be broadcast on SEC Network.

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