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Too Close for Comfort: Arkansas Rallies Late to Save Win in Exhibition Opener

It took a furious second-half comeback for Razorbacks to avoid disaster to get 77-74 hair-raising win

It took a huge second-half run and some clutch free throws for No. 16 Arkansas to pull out a 77-74 win over East Central (Oklahoma) on Sunday afternoon in Bud Walton Arena.

The Razorbacks found themselves behind by 14 with 11 minutes to go.

Then defense kicked in and Davonte Davis, Chris Lykes and JD Notae made clutch free throws in the last minute for the win.

JD Notae

JD Notae drives inside against East Central.

East Central, coached by former Hogs graduate assistant Max Pendery, took the lead midway through the first half and pushed its two-point lead to a game-high 14 (60-46) with 11:02 left.

From that point, Arkansas went on a 20-4 run. It started with a 6-0 spurt before a basket by the Tigers.

The Hogs scored 10 unanswered before the Tigers scored. The Razorbacks reeled off four straight to complete the comeback and lead 66-64 with 5:09 left.

Notae scored 6 during the run, Lykes had 5, Jaylin Williams and Davis each had 4 and Au’Diese Toney scored 1.

Arkansas led by six (71-65) at the 3:21 mark only to see East Central regain the lead, 72-71, with a 3-pointer by Josh Apple with 57 seconds left.

Devo Davis

Davonte Davis drives for a layup against East Central.

Davis put Arkansas back in the lead by one with a pair of free throws seven seconds later.

With 22 seconds left, Lykes drilled two from the charity stripe. Brennan Burns got the Tigers within one, 75-74, with two free throws with six seconds left. However, Notae iced the game with two free throws with five ticks left for the 77-74 win.

Davis led Arkansas with 20 points while Notae added 17. Toney recorded a double-double with 10 points and a game-high 15 rebounds (nine offensive).

He additionally drew a charge with 35 seconds left which helped secure the win. Williams, whose energy and three blocked shots helped spur the win, just missed a double-double with 10 points and nine rebounds. Lykes finished with 13 points.

Apple led all scorers with 23 points while Jalen Crutchfield scored 15 for East Central.

Arkansas will host North Texas on Saturday. Tip-off is set for 4 p.m. in Bud Walton Arena.

The game is a sellout as it is part of the 2021-22 men’s basketball season ticket package.

Devo Davis

Davonte Davis on fast-break layup in first half against East Central.

FIRST HALF: Arkansas 35 – East Central 37

• JD Notae scored the first points of the game and 7 of the team’s first 15.

• East Central took its first lead (21-20) at 5:28 with a 3-pointer by Jalen Crutchfield. The Tigers pushed their advantage to five (26-21) with 4:05 left in the period.

• Arkansas regained the lead (27-26) on a Davonte Davis fast-break layup at 3:07.

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• The lead bounced back-and-forth before East Central AJ Ferguson Jr., made a free throw and layup for a 3-point Tigers’ lead with 42 ticks left.

• Lykes responded with a layup to get the Hogs to within one (36-35) with 29 seconds on the clock. Brennan Burns converted a free throw with 19 seconds left to provide the 36-35 lead by the Tigers.

• Both teams were 14-of-33 from the field (42.4 percent) but East Central made six 3-pointers (6-of-17) compared to one (1-of-9) by the Razorbacks. East Central had nine assists compared to four by Arkansas. Arkansas was also just 6-of-13 from the free throw line.

Chris Lykes

Chris Lykes on defense in second half comeback against East Central.

SECOND HALF: Arkansas 42 – East Central 37

• East Central used a 7-0 run as part of a 14-2 spurt to lead by 14 (60-46) with 11:02 left.

• Arkansas had a 10-0 run (as part of a 16-2 run) to tie the game (62-62) at 6:19.

• Arkansas used get a steal and layup by Notae to take its first lead since the first half. The layup made the score 66-64 with 5:07 left.

• East Central regained the lead, 72-71, with a 3-pointer by Josh Apple with 57 seconds left.

• Devo Davis answered with two free throws with 50 ticks left to put the Hogs up one, 73-72, and Au’Diese Toney drew a key charge with 35 seconds left to force an ECU turnover.

• Lykes sank two free throws with 22 seconds left for a 3-point Arkansas lead, 75-72.

• After two free throws by ECU, Notae iced the game with two free throws with five seconds left.

Stanley Umude

Stanley Umude tries a short jumper in the lane against East Central.


• Starters were Davonte Davis, JD Notae, Au’Diese Toney, Stanley Umude, Jaylin Williams.

• East Central won the opening tip.

• JD Notae scored the game’s first points, a layup at 19:22.

• Chris Lyles, Jaxson Robinson and Connor Vanover were the first subs.

• Arkansas has now won 34 consecutive exhibition games dating back to Nov. 14, 2003.

• Arkansas is now 72-9 all-time in exhibition games.

Information from Arkansas Communications is included in this story.

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