KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Kansas State nearly dug itself out of an 18-point deficit with a gritty second-half effort, however, No. 13/12 Arkansas made the right plays down the stretch to hold off the rally in a 72-64 win on Monday night in the semifinals of the Hall of Fame Classic before 9,409 fans at the T-Mobile Center.
The Razorbacks (4-0) now advance to the Championship game on Tuesday night to play unbeaten Cincinnati (5-0), which knocked No. 14/15 Illinois (2-2) in the first semifinal. The Wildcats (2-1) will face the Fighting Illini in the consolation game on Tuesday at 6 p.m., CT.
Down by as many as 18 points, including 45-27, just under 2 minutes into the second half, the Wildcats closed to within 62-54 on a pair of free throws by sophomore Nijel Pack with 1:53 to play then to 66-60 on a Pack 3-pointer with under a minute to play. However, reserve guard Chris Lykes was a perfect 10-of-10 from the free throw line in the last 1:46 to stave off any further attempts at a comeback.
Lykes was among five Razorbacks in double figures, tying for the team lead with junior Conner Vanover with 14 points each, while senior Au’Diese Toney added a near double-double with 13 points and 9 rebounds.
Pack tied for the game-high lead with 14 points on 5-of-12 field goals and 3-of-3 free throws, while fellow sophomore Selton Miguel had a near double-double with a game-tying 14 points on 5-of-11 shooting to go with a career-best 9 rebounds. Junior Markquis Nowell added 10 points off the bench, eclipsing 1,000 points in college in a career that started at Little Rock in 2018-19.
K-State dug itself into its double-digit deficit with a poor offensive start, as the Wildcats connected on just 25.9 percent (7-of-27) from the field, including 0-of-10 from 3-point range, in the first half to go with 8 turnovers. The team flipped the switch in the second half, scoring 40 points on 46.9 percent (15-of-32) shooting.
The teams were nearly identical shooting the ball with K-State connecting on 37.3 percent (22-of-59) from the field compared to Arkansas’ 36.2 percent (21-of-58), as they combined to hit just 6 of 44 3-point attempts (13.6 percent). However, the Razorbacks took advantage of the 45 personal fouls to convert on 27 of 34 free throw attempts (79.4 percent), which was 10 more than the Wildcats (17-of-23; 73.9 percent).