Razorbacks Win over LSU 79-67

FAYETTEVILLE – Removing his walking boot that apparently must be a magic boot, Anthony Toney’s game high 22 points plus 10 rebounds double-double sprinted the Arkansas Razorbacks to a 79-67 quarterfinals victory over the LSU Tigers in Friday’s SEC Tournament at the Amalie Arena in Tampa, Fla.

Toney tallied 12 points helping along  Arkansas achieve a 29-26 lead in a defensive first half.  He  got plenty of second half support from Razorbacks starting guard JD Notae’s 19 points and a huge 18 points from little 5-7 grad transfer guard Chris Lykes off the bench.

Toney had missed Arkansas’ final regular season game, a loss last Saturday at Tennessee, with what was described as a sprained ankle from late in the March 2 SEC regular season victory over LSU at Walton Area.

 It  was really more a “bad bruise around the fifth metatarsal,” Musselman said after Friday’s game in Tampa saying the medical staff,“Did a phenomenal job,” withholding him from the Tennessee game though an X ray  showed“nothing,” and keeping him in the boot and not practicing until last Thursday. 

“They held him out a day longer not practicing Wednesday,” Musselman said.  “Thursday he was able to shoot and run up and down and felt really good.”

Apparently it did.

“It felt good to be back with the guys,” Toney said. “I just was going  with the momentum and having fun.”

Toney sure made it fun for them, Notae and Lykes said.

“We need Au’Diese,” Notae said. “He brings so much offensively and defensively.”

Lykes said, “We missed his versatility in the Tennessee game. He showed why he is really important to our team today.”

Unanimous first-team All-SEC senior guard/Sporting News All-American Notae generally shows his merit every game and got a big boost from little man Lykes, especially closing both halves.

“Electric,” Notae said.

Toney said, “when he (Lykes) came in the whole momentum changed and he kept that foot on the gas.”

 Musselman’s  Razorbacks, now 25-7 matching their NCAA Elite team’s record of last season, advance to Saturday’s noon semfinals against Coach Buzz Williams’ Texas A&M Aggies.

Saturday’s other semifinal feeding into Sunday’s championship game features the Saturday evening winners between Kentucky  vs. Vanderbilt   and Tennessee vs. Mississippi State.

After defeating the ninth-seeded Florida Gators, 83-80 in overtime for their Thursday first-round game at Amalie Arena, the SEC Tournament eighth-seeded now 22-11  bidding for the NCAA Tournament  unranked Aggies stunned the fresh SEC No. 1 seed champion nationally fourth-ranked Auburn Tigers, 67-62 in Friday afternoon’s first quarterfinal.

Fourth-place Arkansas, the last among Auburn, Kentucky and Tennessee as the top teams seeded to the quarterfinals, now stands 3-0 over LSU.    On LSU’s court, Arkansas’ court and neutral court the Hogs have beaten a respected  22-11 Tigers team likely to join the AP 15th-ranked Razorbacks among Sunday’s selected to the NCAA Tournament.

Both LSU’s Tigers, and Auburn’s Tigers, upended by Arkansas in Fayetteville. with Auburn  bracketed to play Arkansas Saturday until eliminated by the Aggies, pre tournament talked of avenging their losses to Arkansas.

“Yeah we heard all of it,” Notae said. “We wanted to use that as our own motivation.”

LSU played its first round game Thursday but did not have to exert an overabundance of energy in a start to finish victory over Missouri more lopsided than the 76-68 final score indicates.

Toney and  Notae, figuring prominently in a 13-1 opening second half run, and Lykes, finishing with a flurry when LSU started cutting into the deficit, carried Arkansas’ day.

Toney logged 38 minutes Friday not only double-doubling but defensively helping hold LSU normally prolific scoring point guard Xavier Pinson to just four points.

Tari Eason, 15 points, and Darius Days, 14 points and 10 rebounds,  and Brandon Murray, 13 points, led LSU.

LSU outrebounded Arkansas, 43-34 when the Hogs eked by 77-76 on the Walton scoreboard March 2, but the Hogs, led by Jaylin Williams’ 11 boards, outrebounded LSU, 42-28 in Tampa.

Arkansas and Texas A&M split their home and home games during the SEC season.  The Aggies won 86-81 in College Station, Texas.

Arkansas won, 76-73 in overtime  at Walton.

“Coach Williams does a great job,” Musselman told ESPN in Friday’s postgame.  “Buzz is one of the best coaches in the nation. They play, really, really hard.  We have a tremendous respect for them.  There’s a reason they’re still alive.  It’s because of their competitive nature.”

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