Quenton Jackson recorded 20 points, six assists, five rebounds and four steals as Texas A&M delivered an 82-64 trouncing of #15 Arkansas on Saturday afternoon at Tampa to reach the Southeastern Conference tournament title game.
Hassan Diarra added 12 points as the eighth-seeded Aggies (23-11) never trailed in the semifinal matchup while posting their second straight big upset. Texas A&M knocked off top-seeded Auburn, ranked fourth nationally, in Friday’s quarterfinals.
Tyrece Radford tallied 11 points and Henry Coleman III had 10 for Texas A&M, which will face either second-seeded Kentucky or third-seeded Tennessee in Sunday’s championship game. The Aggies have won seven straight games and eight of their past nine as they try to complete a surprising charge into the NCAA Tournament.
Stanley Umude scored 20 points and Au’Diese Toney added 18 for fourth-seeded Arkansas (25-8), which lost for just the third time in the past 18 contests. Davonte Davis added 11 points for the Razorbacks, but star JD Notae had just five on 2-of-8 shooting.
Texas A&M shot 50.8 percent from the field, including 8 of 15 from 3-point range. The Aggies held a 38-25 rebounding edge.
The Razorbacks connected on 43.4 percent of their shots but were 3 of 18 from behind the arc.
Arkansas trailed by 12 at halftime but cut its deficit to 41-36 on a three-point play by Davis.
But Jackson answered with three baskets in a 65-second span to put the Aggies’ lead back to 11 with 14:42 remaining.
Umude made two 3-pointers during an 8-0 burst as the Razorbacks moved within 47-44 with 12:13 left.
But Texas A&M responded with an 11-3 spurt to boost the lead to 11 with just over nine minutes to play.
Toney converted a three-point play as Arkansas crept within 60-52 with eight minutes left.
The Aggies answered with 10 straight points to end any suspense. Hayden Hefner hit a jumper, Jackson and Radford converted three-point plays and Aaron Cash slammed home a dunk to make it 70-52 with 5:52 left.
Texas A&M’s lead topped out at 23 points.
Diarra scored 10 first-half points as the Aggies led 36-24 at the break.
Texas A&M took an 11-4 lead on Diarra’s 3-pointer with 13:11 left in the half. The advantage reached 10 on Cash’s dunk that made it 21-11 with 6:46 remaining.
Diarra sank two free throws with 3.3 seconds left to give the Aggies a half-best 12-point lead.