Arkansas’ Eric Musselman gushes after ‘incredible’ second-round upset of top-seeded Kansas
Arkansas has been looking for cohesion all season. This was not the case at the end of the regular season, when the Razorbacks lost three games in a row and five of their last seven. He was out of the SEC tournament when Arkansas lost a double-digit lead to Texas A&M. But hell, Arkansas finally found it at the right time. Pigs led by a trainer Eric Musselmanunleashed an epic second-half comeback ignited by Davante “Devo” Davis to stun the top-seeded Kansas, 72-71, in their NCAA Tournament Round 32 clash on Saturday.
The young Arkansas squad outplayed Kansas. This caused reckless attempts to play late as Kansas struggled to find any space against Hogs’ covering defense. Suddenly, Arkansas looks as connected and united as it has all year. This is a terrible thought for the rest of the overcrowded western region.
“I’ve been coaching for a long time and this is the biggest win I’ve ever been a part of,” Musselman said. “Again, because of the history of Kansas, because of some of the veterans who were part of the championship team last year. A lot of people didn’t think we were going to win the game in the first round.”
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Here’s what the coach from Arkansas said at the post-match press conference:
“We’re celebrating there because we have such incredible respect for Kansas, the defending champions, the No. 10 MVP in his league, Jalen Wilson. ok as we usually do but we wanted to create more pace in the second half and of course we did that by getting 45 points and then Ricky’s free throw, 10 of 11 in the game, second chance points were a big part of our Kamani win today 6 offensive rebounds, 10 rebounds, and then Devo Davis’s throw-in game and pick-and-roll in the middle, his defense all through the game, and then as soon as he fouled, we were able to, you know, victory! The offensive rebound from the missed free throw was incredible.”
On how to remove Grady Dick:
We just wanted number 4, Grady Dick, not to be given free air space. He is an incredible shooter, one of the best shooters in college basketball.
The general philosophy was to avoid 3-point attempts. That was the most important thing – to stay attached. I also thought they did a good job of using us hugging him with their medium pick and roll and their flip screen because Adams got some easy inside shots and we fouled him a few times after that throw. but we just didn’t have a security guard because we didn’t want Grady to see the light of day. We felt that if we could hold him to four or five tries with three balls, they would play in our favor.
On Ricky Council IV getting the offensive rebound from his own missed free throw:
“Yes, Bob, I will have to go back and watch the tape because I was thinking about what we need to do defensively, whether Ricky can do it or not. It flashed through my head. the guys who weren’t on the free throw line to explain what we wanted to do, including passing the dribbling, turning on the pick and roll. And I think it was Jordan or Kamani, one of those guys who supported this thing. And we talk all the time about chasing lost balls like defenders in football and you have to tackle them from wide receiver and it was kind of a scramble and we did an incredible job of wanting and squeezing the ball.”
when defeating the No. 1 seed two years in a row:
“I kept telling the guys internally and I kept telling the staff that we are a team that keeps getting better. It just happens not at this time of the year, but because of all the circumstances that have occurred. , we are still developing, we are still adding offensive plays, we are still adding defensive coverings. We are a growing basketball team, and I’m lucky to have these guys involved in the preparation. We prepared hard. These guys don’t. I didn’t have much free time between our last game and I didn’t want to come to shoot today. Not many teams were shooting today, they gave up training time. So I told them hey guys let’s go through and the movie and I can walk you through what we need and Ricky and Devo got up and said no coach we want to go to the gym and I said I was worried about feet and they said no It wasn’t my decision… It was their decision. Today we have spent all the time allotted to us for skirmishes. I think it helped us a lot.”
at his post-match celebration:
“Well, I’d like to lie and say that I felt compelled, but that’s — we only drove 1:43. It’s been the hardest season I’ve ever been in. to be rewarded for sticking to this and being able to go to Las Vegas and participate when there are only 16 teams left, it’s very difficult to enter this tournament. It is very difficult to win a game in this tournament. It’s very hard to beat the reigning champions, No. 1 seed. We did it, proud of us. We’ll get on this plane tonight and start getting ready tomorrow, I think the game is at 5:15, the team we’re going to play against, and we start getting ready for that tomorrow. the night is like a stick, and we’ll see what happens.”
on casting Kamani Johnson:
“Kamani has an incredible eye for basketball and is great with a clutch. You know, there were good matchups. In the last two games, we stuck to the same squad. I think he had a really good match… We were disappointed with his reaction and nose to the ball. We were disappointed in the first half. We didn’t make it to the basket. Half a minute. It wasn’t a game plan, but sometimes when you’re open you have to take them. We used an average pick-and-roll with Devo mostly in the second half and then Ricky took over. Just like Ricky did on Maui. We’ve moved on from that a bit, but he had 4 assists tonight too. So I think his ball handling skills are underestimated, when we put him in pick and roll he was extremely efficient. And Devo with his serpentine dribbling going to the right, back to the left, the hook shot, on the wrong foot, is pretty amazing, but he does it all the time.”
on why Arkansas is so good in March:
“Really good players. You can’t win at any level, CYO, elementary school, high school, college, pro, G-league, national team, if you don’t have really good players. And we have some really good players. We have guys who have crazy buy-ins, incredible buy-ins. As I said, we are still practicing today with a short turn and an early game and the guys played many minutes, but, you know, they wanted to go to the floor today to help them or put them in a better position to win.
“I was lucky to coach this team, last year’s team, guys with strong character who hate to lose and really compete. tough games against really good opponents. We told everyone don’t listen to the noise. Worry about what’s going on inside this locker room and let’s just keep getting better. Like I said, I thought our game in Illinois was as good as the game we played. I thought we played as well in the second half tonight as we’ve played all year.”