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Razorbacks defeat Auburn 76-73 in thriller to advance in SEC Tournament

Arkansas advances to play Texas A&M in Friday's quarterfinals.
Credit: AP
Arkansas guard Ricky Council IV (1) dunks on Auburn during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the second round of the Southeastern Conference tournament, Thursday, March 9, 2023, in Nashville, Tenn.(AP Photo/John Amis)

The Razorbacks' first game in the Music City ended on a high note Thursday.

Arkansas, the 10th seed in the SEC Tournament, defeated 7-seed Auburn 76-73 in the second round at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. The Hogs' advance to Friday's quarterfinal round against 2-seed Texas A&M.

It was a roller coaster of a game for Arkansas, one that saw a 15-point halftime lead disappear before Nick Smith Jr. hit the go-ahead shot with 16 seconds left.

Smith Jr. finished with 14 points, while Anthony Black led the way with 19 points, six rebounds and six assists.

After Auburn scored the first two points of the game, Arkansas got it going, scoring 10 consecutive points, punctuated by a dunk from Makhi Mitchell, to go up by eight early.

The Hogs remained in front for the rest of the first half, leading by as much as 10 after a Ricky Council IV dunk made it 30-20, before a 6-0 Auburn run made it a 37-33 Razorback lead at the half.

Arkansas started the second half just as hot as it did the first half, going on a 17-6 run out of the break to build a 15-point lead.

However, Auburn again was able to battle back, with a K.D. Johnson layup pulling the Tigers within four, 59-55.

A layup from Johni Broome then made it a three-point game, 70-67 with under three and a half minutes to go.

Arkansas native Allen Flanigan's finish off the glass gave Auburn its first lead since the second minute of the game when the Tigers moved in front 73-72 with 41 seconds left.

Nick Smith Jr. came up in the clutch though for Arkansas, making a tough midrange jumper near the baseline to put the Hogs back up 74-73 with 16 seconds left.

Wendell Green Jr. missed at the other end and Devo Davis picked up the big defensive rebound for Arkansas.

Davis was fouled and made both free throws, giving the Razorbacks a 76-73 advantage in the final seconds, and Green missed a game-tying three at the buzzer.

The Razorbacks have seen a few of their best performances this season come at neutral sites. Arkansas went 2-1 at the Maui Invitational early in the season, including a win over San Diego State, and also defeated Oklahoma in Tulsa.

The Hogs advance to face the Aggies on Friday at 6 p.m. on SEC Network.

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