Notae, Arkansas muscle top overall seed Gonzaga out of NCAAs
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — JD Notae scored 21 points despite missing 20 shots and fourth-seeded Arkansas made Gonzaga miserable on both ends of the floor, bouncing the top overall seed from the NCAA Tournament with a 74-68 win on Thursday night.
Notae finished with six rebounds, six assists, three steals and two blocked shots for coach Eric Musselman’s scrappy, hustling Razorbacks (28-8), who reached the Elite Eight for the second straight year and will face either Duke or Texas Tech in the West Region final on Saturday.
Drew Timme scored 25 points but couldn’t rally the Bulldogs (28-4), who for the second straight season were favored to win that elusive national title but were eliminated by a more physical foe. Coach Mark Few’s squad was undefeated last year before falling to Baylor in the national title game.
Arkansas continually challenged 7-foot Gonzaga freshman Chet Holmgren in the paint, and the skinny NBA prospect fouled out with 3:29 remaining after some questionable calls went against him. Holmgren finished with 11 points, all in the second half, and 14 rebounds in what may be his final college game.
Moments after Au’Diese Toney dunked with 1 second left, Notae threw the game ball into the air in triumph as teammate Jaylin Williams flexed and roared near midcourt. Musselman, meanwhile, found mother Kris in the stands for an embrace as she watched him in person coaching the Razorbacks for the first time.
Notae shot 9 of 29 overall and 2 of 12 from 3-point range but was still the catalyst for the Razorbacks. The senior guard’s 3 with 6:38 left made it 59-50, and Arkansas held on from there.
Toney converted a three-point play with 8:36 left by going right at Holmgren to draw his fourth foul and send him to the bench. Holmgren returned at the 6:46 mark but Notae drove at him three minutes later and drew the fifth foul on the freshman, who raised his arms in protest.
During one sequence, Notae scored, then sneaked behind Timme for a steal. Notae had an early block and steal that got his team going. He hit the floor at every chance to corral loose balls.
Gonzaga trailed at the break for just the fifth time this season and never found the shooting touch that made the Zags the top scoring team in the nation at 87.8 points per game. The Zags shot 37.5% and went 5 of 21 from 3-point range. Andrew Nembhard was a non-factor with seven points on 2-of-11 shooting.
Williams took a charge late in the first half — his 45th of the season — and drove through the lane for an emphatic dunk during a 9-0 run by Arkansas in which the Zags were 0 for 5 with three turnovers.
Williams and Trey Wade scored 15 points apiece.
BAY AREA MEMORY
Gonzaga’s last two visits to the Bay Area have been forgettable. The Bulldogs’ previous visit was still plenty fresh before Thursday — a 67-57 loss for at rival Saint Mary’s on Feb. 26 for their first defeat since Dec. 4.
FACING NO. 1
The Hogs earned their first ever win against a No. 1 team in the NCAA Tournament.
Arkansas had been 0-5 all-time against the nation’s top-ranked team and 2-11 overall, with one of those wins coming this season. The Razorbacks beat then-No. 1 Auburn 76-73 in overtime on Feb. 8.
Arkansas: Musselman coached both the NBA’s Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings in the 2000s, so this was a homecoming of sorts. His mother flew in from San Diego. … Hogs assistant Keith Smart also coached with both franchises. … Arkansas missed its initial four 3-point tries before Wade hit from deep at the 10:36 mark of the first half. … The Razorbacks lost to eventual champion Baylor in last year’s Elite Eight. … Arkansas improved to 8-5 in Sweet 16 games.
Gonzaga: The Zags committed 15 turnovers, resulting in 10 Arkansas points. … Gonzaga’s seven straight Sweet 16s is longest active run to this round. … The Zags won the only previous meeting between the schools, 91-81 at the Maui Invitational in November 2013.