In a tightly contested affair, Illinois’ late surge was not enough to topple Arkansas in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, as the Razorbacks emerged victorious 73-63.
The Fighting Illini, the Big Ten Tournament champions, found themselves down by 15 points in the second half, but a spirited comeback saw the deficit trimmed to three points with four minutes to play. However, the Razorbacks responded with an 11-2 run to close out the game and secure the win.
Illinois’ offense was led by Ayo Dosunmu, who tallied 18 points and seven assists, while Kofi Cockburn added 16 points and nine rebounds. Dosunmu and Cockburn were complemented by Trent Frazier’s 13 points. The Fighting Illini shot 44.3% from the field and were held to 5-of-19 from beyond the arc.
Arkansas was paced by Moses Moody, who scored 24 points, and Justin Smith, who had 18 points and 10 rebounds. The Razorbacks shot 50.8% from the field and made 8-of-19 three-pointers.
Despite Illinois’ valiant effort, Arkansas’ superior shooting and ball movement was enough to end the Fighting Illini’s season. The Razorbacks advance to face Oral Roberts in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.