When Arkansas needed him most, Davonte delivered Davis in Saturday’s upset victory over 1-seed Kansas in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
Davis, a junior guard and one of two stock players returning from last year’s roster, shows what head coach Eric Musselman looks for in a basketball player. Davis was a key part of two straight Elite Eight runs and has again played an important role for the Razorbacks, who are tied at Sweet Sixteen after a 72-71 victory over the Jayhawks at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa.
The Jacksonville native scored a game-high 25 points on 9-of-15 shooting from the field and he added eight rebounds and a block. Davis scored just four points in the first half, but his 21 points in the second half played a vital role in the Razorbacks’ victory.
After his team was down 12 points in the game at the first media timeout in the second half, Davis took matters into his own hands. At 3:17 p.m., he had just seven points for a team struggling to attack the basket and expose the big Kansas men in deep trouble.
“That’s exactly what he’s doing in March,” freshman guard Anthony Black told reporters. “He’s been doing it since (he was) a freshman. He was great for us today and he’s been great for us all year.”
The legend of “March Devo” is well known to Razorback fans after he averaged 33.8 minutes, 14.3 points and 6.5 rebounds in four tournament games as a freshman in 2021, and he played a vital role as a lockdown defender , averaging 31 minutes per game in the 2022 post-season run.
When his team needed him most, Davis turned him on and “March Devo” was once again brought to the forefront of the college basketball world.
After that under-16 media timeout, Davis made his next three shots to score seven points and cut the deficit to eight with 12:14. Less than two minutes later, he had scored four more, including two at the free throw line to extend Kansas’ lead to 51–49.
“Yeah, Devo pretty much had the second half,” said guard Ricky Council IV. “I was in the first half and Devo had the second half, and I was in the corner ready to rebound if he missed and he didn’t miss.”
Over the next six minutes of play, Davis tied the game twice and made a few trips to the line to make three free throws while playing his signature high-level defense at the other end.
“It doesn’t matter if he was on the field, scoring, shooting threes, making a bucket or coaching on the bench, he had a big impact on the game and he had a big impact on winning,” freshman Jordan Walsh told reporters. .
He told reporters he didn’t feel he had to take over the game, he just did as Musselman told him to.
“Not really, just playing within the stream because Coach Muss said you have to go downhill,” Davis said. “He was talking within the whole group.”
Although he went out on a 1:56 error, Davis still coached his teammates as he left the field. He was seen yelling from the bench for the last two minutes, virtually putting another coach on the sidelines for Arkansas.
Of course he credited everyone but himself after the big win.
“I feel like we all did something to help us win and I’m glad we did,” said Davis. “Ricky (Council) knocked down big free throws, we had Nick (Smith) defending really well at the end of the game.
“Everyone contributed, coach Muss even filled in the right way and things like that to help us. Even the coaches and the team contributed in some way to help us win.”
Musselman has said many times that he and Davis think on the same wavelength, and it often shows during games. It certainly showed when Davis said the job wasn’t done.
“I don’t know how to react, you know, but I know it feels good and I know the guys who haven’t been a part of something like this. I know we feel like we’re on top of the world and we want to keep going and get better,” Davis said. “As Coach Muss said, we’re not done yet and I think we can get better as the season progresses.”
In the postgame interview on CBS, Davis’s emotions were on full display as he realized how all of his hard work has come to fruition thus far.
“This team has struggled,” said Davis. “And we found out. And I’m glad we did it at the right time and hopefully we’ll keep doing it.”
With the Sweet Sixteen on the horizon and plenty of work to do, the Razorbacks are lucky to say they have Davis on their side.
“I’m going to say this about Devo because I know a lot of people are talking about him or whatever,” Kamani Johnson told reporters. “Devo Davis is a pro. He’s a dog. And he’s going to win. He’s a winner.”