RazorbacksSports

Razorbacks Make History with Auburn Win

FAYETTEVILLE – Fort Smith raised lifelong following the Razorbacks, Jaylin Williams can sense what becomes Arkansas history.

The University of Arkansas sophomore center via Fort Smith Northside not only sensed it but knows he experienced it when he and his fellow unranked Razorbacks upset nationally No. 1 Auburn, 80-76 in overtime in Tuesday’s first time ever a No. 1-ranked  team visited Walton Arena.

We’re going to be remembered for the rest of Arkansas history,” Williams said.

Especially, he said, since some had written off  these now 19-5 overall, 8-3 in the SEC Hogs as bygone history during a late December/early January skid losing 5 of 6 including starting 0-3 in the SEC.

“Even greater things, everyone counted us out when we were 0-3 in conference,” Williams said   “We believed in each other. We never stopped. We kept playing hard. We knew what we could do and we believed in each other. We kept going, and the best part is just shocking the world and showing where we should be.”

They had a record-setting 20,327 filling Walton Arena Tuesday night that never stopped believing and  never stopped Hog calling their belief throughout Tuesday’s game and rushing he court postgame.

“You could dream about something like that, man,” Arkansas star guard JD Notae said.  “Just having that everybody rush the court and beating the No. 1 team and it was just fun.”

It couldn’t have been too much fun  getting nine  shots swatted back in their face with 7-1 Auburn center Walker Kessler blocking seven.

But  the Hogs kind of capitalized on it.  Shot-blockers tend to be frequent foulers.  Kessler, 19 rebounds and 16 points, fouled out during the overtime while other would-be Auburn shot-blockers were foul troubled.

Calling Auburn, “the best shot-blocking team that I’ve faced as a coach in college,” Musselman said.  “I thought we did a good job of getting into the body early, not late. If you get into a shot-blocker late by the rim, it’s too late. It’s going to get blocked. You have to get into the body early, 15-feet out. I thought JD Notae (11 of 14 of Arkansas’ 26 of 32 free throws while scoring a game high 28 points) did a great job of getting into Kessler’s body early and putting fouls on their bigs.”

Notae did some pretty good shot-blocking himself.  6-2 scoring guards normally aren’t shot-blockers but Notae blocked four Auburn shots.

Notae and Williams, 13 points, 11 rebounds and two steals, were the Razorbacks media available postgame but senior starting guard Au’Diese Toney and sophomore off the bench guard Devo Davis deserved the publicity, too.

Toney double-doubled with 14 points and 10 rebounds and tenacious defense and played 40:38 of the game’s 45 minutes while Notae logged 41 minutes.

Davis, logging as much or nearly as much time off the bench in his 31 minutes as all the Auburn starters other than point guard Wendell Green’s 38 minutes, tallied 10 points and career high five steals.

“Au’Diese has a nose for the ball,” Musselman said. “He’s really hard to keep off the offensive glass.  I thought he was phenomenal down the stretch getting some rebounds.   Devo, that was probably his best game of the year for us.”

Both for Arkansas and Auburn as their muscles tightened and aches pained the day, there was a blessing playing Tuesday instead of Wednesday.

It gives each an extra physically and mentally recovering before Saturday when the Razorbacks visit Alabama for an 11 a.m. SEC Network televised SEC game in Tuscaloosa, while Auburn hosts Texas A&M in an 11 a.m. SEC game at Auburn, Ala.

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