KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Au’Diese Toney scored 19 points, including the go-ahead free throws with just over a minute to go, and Chris Lykes was perfect at the foul line down the stretch in helping No. 13 Arkansas beat Cincinnati 73-67 on Tuesday night in the title game of the Hall of Fame Classic.
Lykes finished with 15 points and JD Notae overcame another cold-shooting night to finish with 13 for the Razorbacks (5-0), who made every crucial play in the closing minutes of a game that neither team led by more than six.
Toney’s free throws with 1:23 left gave the Razorbacks a 68-67 lead, the fifth time it had changed hands in the final five minutes. Jeremiah Davenport missed at the other end for Cincinnati, and Arkansas grabbed three consecutive offensive rebounds before Lykes was fouled and made two more free throws with 21.8 seconds left.
The Bearcats (5-1) squandered one last chance when Mike Saunders Jr. was called for charging with 9.6 seconds to go.
David DeJulius scored 24 points to lead Cincinnati. Saunders finished with nine points and five assists.
There wasn’t much offense early from two teams that have the ability to fill up the bucket.
The Razorbacks struggled with their outside shot, going 0 for 10 from beyond arc in the first half. And the Bearcats had trouble on the glass, where they didn’t get a single offensive rebound until the waning minutes.
Cincinnati also dealt with a bunch of foul trouble while building a 30-26 halftime lead. Mika Adams-Woods took a seat with three fouls after playing just seven minutes, and big man Victor Lakhin went to the locker room with two fouls.
It forced first-year Bearcats coach Wes Miller to use some creative lineups late in the first half.
They continued to maintain their meager lead in the second, even though just about every rebound and loose ball went the other way. On a single trip down floor, Arkansas forward Jaylin Williams missed a 3-pointer, Connor Vanover got the board and was tied up, then Lykes missed a shot before the sprightly guard finally got one to go.
The game remained nip-and-tuck all the way to the finish.
Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, who starred at Cincinnati before heading to the NFL, took in the championship game from courtside seats. Kelce often shows up for college basketball games at T-Mobile Center, and the timing of the Bearcats in the Hall of Fame Classic worked out perfectly; the Chiefs (7-4) have a bye this week.
Cincinnati had plenty of chances to pull away, including when it led 56-53 with less than seven minutes to go. But that’s when DeJulius missed a 3-pointer and Hayden Koval missed another on consecutive trips down floor, opening the door for the Razorbacks to eventually pull ahead.
Arkansas struggled again from beyond the arc, going 3 of 17 in the championship game. The Razorbacks were 3 of 22 from 3-point range when they held off Kansas State in the semifinal round.
The Bearcats play Monmouth on Saturday. The Razorbacks face Pennsylvania on Sunday.