Moses Moody, Arkansas Edge Mac McClung, Texas Tech to Advance to 2021 Sweet 16

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistMarch 22, 2021

Arkansas guard Moses Moody (5) shoots over Texas Tech forward Marcus Santos-Silva (14) and guard Mac McClung (0) in the second half of a second-round game in the NCAA men's college basketball tournament at Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Sunday, March 21, 2021. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Michael Conroy/Associated Press

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.

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This Arkansas dime 🔥 @RazorbackMBB | #MarchMadness https://t.co/8kyUhvQR12

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DEVO DAVIS AND-1 🗣 @RazorbackMBB | #MarchMadness https://t.co/PVKTlJG7rK

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.

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Chuck Carlton @ChuckCarltonDMN

Texas Tech had its chances. On its last three possessions: -- McClung missed the front end of a 1-on-1 down 1. -- Shannon missed a reverse layup down 1. -- Edwards missed a contested driving layup down 2.

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.


Key Stats

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.

Bob Kravitz @bkravitz

It's remarkable watching former Hoosier Justin Smith and seeing how well he's playing at Arkansas. I don't know if it's a coaching thing or just a matter of him finding his game, but very impressive. BTW Arkansas-Texas Tech tied at 31 with 3:26 left in half.

Ryan Phillips @RumorsandRants

@jasonrmcintyre Watched Justin Smith not realize his potential for 3 years at Indiana only to do this in his first year at Arkansas. UGH.

Kyle Tucker @KyleTucker_ATH

Justin Smith has been so, so good for Arkansas this year. Indiana sure could’ve used that dude.

Kyle Deckelbaum @KATVKyle

Justin Smith: It feels good. This is why I came here. I came here to win. To have it come true, to have it come to fruition is a testament to all the hard work we've put in over the last nine months. We're going to keep on going and see how far we can go.

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.

Steve Sullivan @sully7777

Devo is doing a great job on McClung. He's only been able to get off 6 shots. Always has a hand in his face. He is so fundamentally sound.

Jeff Borzello @jeffborzello

Absolutely unbelievable defense on that final possession by Devo Davis. He was not going to let Mac McClung get a touch. Arkansas is heading to the Sweet 16.

Aaron Torres @Aaron_Torres

It won't be talked about, but Devo Davis completely denying Mac McClung the ball for 94-feet just won Arkansas that game and sent them to the Sweet 16 https://t.co/WW2LxpJjQq

Michael Eaves @michaeleaves

Yo.. the denial defense that #4 for #Arkansas just played was some of the best you will ever see. Dude would not let McClung get the ball!!

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.


What's Next?

Arkansas awaits the winner of seventh-seeded Florida vs. 15th-seeded Oral Roberts. The Razorbacks will next play on Saturday, March 27 (time TBD).