March Madness: Four-seed UConn steamrolls eight-seed Arkansas 88-65 for 12th Elite Eight berth

Four-seed UConn steamrolls eight-seed Arkansas 88-65 to reach the school’s 12th Elite Eight appearance behind 24 points from Jordan Hawkins

After struggling in his previous two games Connecticut guard Jordan Hawkins found his form again – putting up 24 points on a 6-13 shooting line to lead the UConn Huskies to a 88-65 win over eight-seed Arkansas.

The Huskies led the Razorbacks by 29 points at one moment during the game, as forward Adama Sanogo grabbed 18 points and eight rebounds.

Andre Jackson Jr. continued his strong two-way play with seven points, eight rebounds, and seven assists in the contest.

This marks UConn’s 12th appearance in the Elite Eight – their first since 2014 when they won the national championship.

Alex Karaban had 11 points and seven rebounds and Nahiem Alleyne added 10 points as the fourth-seeded Huskies led by as many as 29 points in the West Region semifinal contest.

Jordan Hawkins led the way for UConn in an 88-65 win over Arkansas to reach the Elite Eight

Jordan Hawkins led the way for UConn in an 88-65 win over Arkansas to reach the Elite Eight

Anthony Black recorded 20 points and five steals and Ricky Council IV tallied 17 points for eighth-seeded Arkansas (22-14). 

Nick Smith Jr. added 11 for the Razorbacks, who were looking to reach the Elite Eight for the third straight year.

UConn will face either second-seeded UCLA or third-seeded Gonzaga in Saturday’s regional final. The Huskies have won 12 of their past 14 games.

The blowout was the first NCAA Tournament game ever held in Las Vegas.

Arkansas was not able to deliver for their fans in Sin City – including alumnus and golfer John Daly who was in attendance. The Huskies had Bill Murray on the sidelines cheering on UConn, as the comedy legend’s son is an assistant coach for Connecticut. 

The Huskies shot 57.4 percent from the field — including 9 of 20 from 3-point range — and controlled the boards with a 43-31 rebounding edge. 

UConn had a 42-24 edge in points in the paint while improving to 14-0 this season against teams not in its conference (Big East).

Comedian Bill Murray

Retired golfer John Daly

UConn and Arkansas brought celebrity fans out – with comedian and actor Bill Murray (L) supporting the Huskies and retired golfer John Daly (R) supporting the Razorbacks

Arkansas shot just 31.7 percent from the field and went 5 of 16 from behind the arc. The Razorbacks had just seven assists to the Huskies’ 22.

UConn led by 17 at halftime and didn’t give the Razorbacks any chance to get back into the game by starting the second half with a 16-4 burst. 

Hawkins scored the final six to give the Huskies a 62-33 advantage with 15:44 remaining.

Black made a 3-pointer for Arkansas with 13:51 left in the game for his club’s first field goal in 8:09. 

The trey started a 10-0 run but UConn countered with a 11-3 push with Hawkins draining two 3-pointers as the Huskies took a 73-46 lead with 10:29 remaining.

UConn had a 22-9 rebounding advantage in the first half while taking a 49-29 lead. Hawkins scored 10 points for the Huskies.

UConn head coach Dan Hurley

Arkansas head coach Eric Musselman

Dan Hurley (L) and his Huskies out-played Eric Musselman (R) and the Razorbacks all game

UConn’s lead was just three points after the Razorbacks’ Jordan Walsh made a jumper with 12:04 remaining in the half.

Twenty seconds later, Tristen Newton drained a 3-pointer to start a 14-0 surge. Sanogo capped it with a layup to make it 34-17 with 7:42 remaining.

Makhi Mitchell’s layup 19 seconds later ended an Arkansas scoring drought of 4:41.

The Razorbacks shot just 33.3 percent in the half while UConn made a sizzling 60.7 percent of its shots.