The junior guard turned in his best game of the season to propel the Razorbacks to their third straight Sweet 16.
Arkansas guard Davonte Davis did his best to contain his emotions on Saturday after turning in the game of his life to help propel the eighth-seeded Razorbacks to the Sweet 16 with a stunning 72–71 upset of No. 1 Kansas in the men’s NCAA tournament.
The thrilling round of 32 matchup saw Davis, a junior from Jacksonville, Ark., torch the Jayhawks for a season-high 25 points on 9-of-15 shooting before fouling out with 1:56 left in the game. Forward and fellow junior Ricky Council IV, who finished with 21 points, led Arkansas the rest of the way en route to securing the program’s third consecutive Sweet 16 appearance under fourth-year coach Eric Musselman.
After the game, CBS reporter Allie LaForce asked Davis to reflect on how he handled taking on a bigger role as a leader after being asked by Musselman to take up the challenge prior to the season. Needless to say, the upperclassman was overcome with emotion while trying to answer the question.
“We put in a lot of work, it’s crazy,” Davis said as his eyes began to swell with tears. “I feel good. I’m glad we came out with the win.”
When asked what he was thinking about that made him tear up, Davis acknowledged Arkansas’s hard-fought journey to Saturday’s win. The team earned the matchup against KU after beating Illinois, 73–63, in the first round on Thursday, a game where Davis and Council combined for 34 points,.
“Just putting in the work,” he said. “This team’s been struggling and we figured it out, and I’m glad we did at the right time. And, hopefully, we continue to do it.”
Davis’s emotional post-game interview gave fans a glimpse at just how much the victory meant to the 21-year-old amid Arkansas’s up-and-down season. For Davis, the year saw the 6-foot-3 guard earn his first SEC All-Defensive team selection to cap a year where he briefly stepped away from the team for two days back in November due to undisclosed personal reasons before returning to the team finish the season.
On the floor, the Razorbacks battled through inconsistent play and injuries, notably losing sophomore forward Trevon Brazile to a torn ACL in early December, all season en route to finishing with a 22–13 record, and an 8–10 mark in SEC play. After losing eight of its last 15 games, including three straight to end the regular season, Arkansas then went on a short-lived run in the SEC tournament, beating Auburn before falling to Texas A&M in the quarterfinals.
After overcoming numerous hurdles entering Saturday’s contest, Arkansas managed to sink a title favorite, thanks largely to Davis’s performance. Now, the Razorbacks will look to keep their momentum going next week when they take on the winner of Sunday’s meeting between fifth-seeded St. Mary’s and fourth-seeded UConn in the Sweet 16.