Arkansas men’s basketball upsets No. 2 Auburn in OT

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — An Associated Press No. 1 team had never visited Bud Walton Arena until Auburn came to town Tuesday. And although Arkansas basketball had only beaten one top-ranked team, the Razorbacks took down the Tigers 80-76 in overtime, beating an AP No. 1 opponent for the first time since 1984.

And they did it in front of a record-setting crowd of 20,327.

Auburn (22-2, 10-1 SEC) had its streak of 19 consecutive wins snapped, while Arkansas (19-5, 8-3) extended its own streak to nine straight victories. Auburn entered the game rated No. 2 in the Ferris Mowers Men’s Basketball Coaches Poll.

The first half was all runs, and the second was all back-and-forth. Auburn started the game making four of its first seven shots from the field. Arkansas then went on an 18-4 run over almost eight minutes to lead by as many as 12.

Auburn closed the half with a 10-1 run of its own, and Arkansas didn’t make a field goal for the last 8:29 before intermission. By then, Auburn had cut the lead to three points.

Auburn started the second half with a huge basket and foul by Jabari Smith to tie the game. Arkansas had held Smith to 4 points in the first half, but he broke out in the second half with 10 points to help Auburn keep its comeback alive.

Smith hit two timely threes in overtime with under 30 seconds left to try to keep Auburn in the game after it fell behind by five. He finished with 20.

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Overtime at the foul line

Both Arkansas and Auburn played their second overtime game of the season. Auburn’s last experience with extra time wasn’t positive: The Tigers’ only loss this season was a double-overtime loss to UConn early in the season. Arkansas beat Texas A&M in overtime just over two weeks ago.

Free throws made the difference in overtime, as Auburn went 0-for-3 to Arkansas’ 11-for-14. JD Notae scored six in extra time, including 3-for-4 free-throw shooting. He led the team in scoring with 28.

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Rebounding battle

Auburn dominated on the boards, particularly on offense. The Tigers had 11 offensive boards in the first half while Arkansas had none. Auburn more than doubled Arkansas’ total rebounds in the half.

Au’Diese Toney set out to change that in the second half. In the first six minutes after the break, Toney pulled down three offensive rebounds and converted them all to points. He scored six on second-chance layups, almost half of his 14 total points.

Arkansas finished with 42 rebounds. Toney accounted for almost half of Arkansas’ 11 offensive boards. But Auburn still won the battle on the glass with 60 total and 24 offensive, including a career-high 19 by Walker Kessler.

Walker Kessler’s big night

The sophomore Kessler had a career night even outside of his performance on the glass. In addition to his 11 defensive and eight offensive rebounds, He scored 16, second-most on the team. He was 2-for-5 from 3-point range, matching his season-high in makes from deep.

Perimeter shooting is something Kessler has worked on after practice of late. He made two against Oklahoma in the Big 12-SEC Challenge, when he had a career-high 21 points.

Kessler collected four fouls in regulation and fouled out with a minute left in overtime.

Arkansas guard Davonte Davis stepped up at the right time. Davis was in double figures for the first time since the win over Missouri, which kicked off Arkansas’ win streak and included 15 points from Davis. Against Auburn, one of the best defensive teams in the league, Davis was 4-for-8 with 10 points.

Arkansas was plus-15 with Davis on the floor. He added four rebounds to two turnovers and a team-high five steals.

Christina Long covers the Arkansas Razorbacks. You can email her at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @christinalong00.

This article originally appeared on Fort Smith Times Record: Arkansas men’s basketball takes down No. 2 Auburn in overtime


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