Moses Moody, Arkansas Edge Mac McClung, Texas Tech to Advance to 2021 Sweet 16March 22, 2021
The Arkansas men's basketball team brings the defensive intensity. The Razorbacks bring the pace and athleticism, too. And on Sunday, it was just barely enough to get past a talented Texas Tech team.
Led by a big performance from Justin Smith, the third-seeded Razorbacks beat the sixth-seeded Red Raiders 68-66 in the second round of the South Region at the NCAA tournament.
Despite trailing by as many as 10 points in the first half, Arkansas went on a 29-12 run between the end of the first half and the start of the second half to take control of the game. Moses Moody and the Razorbacks managed to keep the Red Raiders at arm's length for much of the second half, keeping talented guard Mac McClung from getting into a rhythm.
But Texas Tech fought back from its own 12-point deficit, pulling within two in the closing seconds. Kyler Edwards drove the lane and attempted a game-tying layup, only to see it miss. Arkansas pulled down the rebound and ran out the clock, securing a tight win.
One of the knocks on this Arkansas squad was a weak nonconference schedule, or at least the perception of one. But three of the teams the Razorbacks beat earlier this season, North Texas, Oral Roberts and Abilene Christian, have pulled off upsets at this year's NCAA tournament.
The Razorbacks are wiping out narratives. They took care of Texas Tech in the process.
Justin Smith, ARK: 20 points, six rebounds
Moses Moody, ARK: 15 points, six rebounds
Davonte Davis, ARK: 15 points
Mac McClung, TTU: Nine points, two assists, 2-of-6 from the field
Terrence Shannon Jr., TTU: 20 points
Kyler Edwards, TTU: 11 points, eight rebounds
Justin Smith Was Fantastic
Moody is the main man for Arkansas and hit some big shots down the stretch. But Smith was the difference-maker against Texas Tech.
His efficiency on the offensive end was impressive. He crashed the boards alongside Jaylin Williams. He seemed to have an answer when Texas Tech went on a run. The Indiana transfer has become a key figure for these Razorbacks.
He's been excellent this tournament, with 29 points, five steals and two blocks vs. Colgate in the first round. If you thought Arkansas was just the Moody show, well, think again. Smith has emerged.
Mac McClung Couldn't Find the Scoring Touch
Arkansas did an excellent job on McClung, keeping him from truly putting his imprint on this game at the offensive end. That left Texas Tech to search for offense without its leading scorer this season making a huge impact.
Shannon Jr., Edwards and Kevin McCullar stepped up, but overcoming Arkansas' defense without McClung at his best was a tall task. Credit belongs to Davis, who did a great job locking down McClung.
Ultimately, McClung's teammates picked up the slack, or most of it. Still, it likely wasn't the way the junior guard wanted to see his season end.
Arkansas awaits the winner of seventh-seeded Florida vs. 15th-seeded Oral Roberts. The Razorbacks will next play on Saturday, March 27 (time TBD).