Senior guard Au’Diese Toney put the exclamation mark on Arkansas’ sixth straight victory with a layup, putting the Razorbacks up by 10 points with 2:23 left in Saturday’s game. Toney’s team-high 19 points helped power the Hogs to a 77-68 win over the West Virginia Mountaineers in the 2022 Big 12/SEC Challenge.
The Razorbacks led the entire game. Their defense was the biggest driving factor, as the Hogs held the Mountaineers to just 29 points and 34% shooting from the field in the half — and went on to have their sixth straight game having held an opponent to under 40% shooting.
“I mean, six straight games holding opponents under 40% from the field is kind of unheard of, to be honest with you,” Arkansas head coach Eric Musselman said. “It’s really a great accomplishment from a defensive standpoint.”
Senior guard JD Notae, the Southeastern Conference’s leading scorer, received two quick fouls, and sat out the last 16 minutes of the opening half. The Hogs did not seem to need him, getting to the free throw line 18 times and hitting 16. Arkansas did not have one player reach double-digit points, but took a 38-29 lead into halftime.
The Hogs carried that momentum into the second half, and they held a 52-33 lead with 16:08 on the clock. The Mountaineers started to get hot, going on a 16-2 run to cut the lead to just 54-49 with 11:19 to go.
West Virginia never got within five again. Arkansas held the ball and finished long possessions with a basket or a foul — followed by free throw attempts — to hold and expand its lead. The Mountaineers got a late layup to make it a nine-point game, but the Razorbacks eventually coasted to victory.
Sophomore forward Jaylin Williams is the glue that holds the Hogs together, and Saturday’s game demonstrated why. His fingerprints were all over the game. Williams recorded a double-double, finishing with 12 points and a career-high 15 rebounds, along with two blocks and two steals.
“Coming into this game, we knew West Virginia was a tough team,” Williams said in the postgame press conference. “They have a lot of great rebounders. I knew that had to be my focus today. Getting rebounds and boxing out the five-man.”
Despite Norse’s limited minutes in the first half, he finished with 15 points. He was integral to Arkansas’ offense down the stretch. Although Arkansas held off the Mountaineers with him on the bench, the offense flowed much better with Notae on the floor.
Senior guard Au’Diese Toney was magnificent. He dropped 19 points, and collected seven rebounds and three assists. Toney also locked down the Mountaineers’ top scorer, Taz Sherman, and got the crowd into the game multiple times with thunderous dunks.
“Au’Diese Toney tonight, was absolutely phenomenal,” Musselman said. “No plays run for him, 6-8 from the field, 7-8 from the foul line. Add into the fact that his primary defensive assignment was Taz Sherman. When you have a guy his size playing that position defensively, it’s completely changed who we are.”
Arkansas will look to make it seven wins in a row when it gets back into conference play against the Georgia Bulldogs at 6 p.m. Wednesday in Athens, Georgia. The game will be broadcast on the SEC Network.
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