FAYETTEVILLE, Ark -- The Akron Zips never trailed at Bud Walton Arena, defeating the Arkansas Razorbacks 88-80 on Wednesday evening at the NIT Season Tip-Off.
With the win, Akron moved to 3-0 on the season while handing the Razorbacks (1-1) their first loss. The Zips also ended Arkansas 54 consecutive home winning streak against non-conference opponents, and gave Razorback head coach Mike Anderson his first loss in those games (40-1). The win also marks the Zips fifth-consecutive season with a win over a power five conference opponent.
"We have a lot of respect for Arkansas, who plays old school and physical," said head coach Keith Dambrot. "We knew they would press us a lot and we took advantage of that by making three's. We are big and strong, which most mid-majors are not, and feel we can play at this level."
Five Zips scored in double figures and were led by sophomore guard Antino Jackson, who played the entire 40 minutes. He registered 23 points on 8-of-18 shooting with a 3-of-7 effort from downtown, including two old fashioned 3-point plays down the stretch.
Senior wing Reggie McAdams followed with 18 points and an all-around 50.0 percent shooting effort (5-of-10, 4-of-8). Junior center Isaiah Johnson added 15 points and seven rebounds, while junior forward Kwan Cheatham and senior wing Jake Kretzer rounded out the double digit scoring with 12 and 11, respectively.
Arkansas received the initial tap, but came up empty, allowing the Zips to strike first. Akron opened the game with back-to-back 3-pointers and a free throw by Cheatham. Antino Jackson followed with a three, and the Zips led 10-2 at the 17:25 mark.
At 15:56, Arkansas cut into lead with three made free throws, but McAdams answered with a transition triple and mid-range jumper to make it 15-7. A small 7-2 run allowed Razorbacks to cut the Zips' lead to three, 17-14, at the 11:23 mark. However, Akron retaliated with seven unanswered points for a 10-point, 24-14, advantage. Akron extended the lead to as many as 13 points before finishing the half with a 37-29 advantage.
In the second half, the Razorbacks found the bottom of the net first with a triple, but the Zips' McAdams responded with a three of his own. A barrage of fouls followed, including two quick fouls on Forsythe, and a technical foul on Akron coach Dambrot. However, it didn't slow the Zips down as the two teams traded buckets up to the under-16 media timeout, 49-39.
After the media break, Arkansas responded with back-to-back triples, cutting Akron's lead to 49-45 with 13:01 remaining. The Razorbacks added another score to trail by two, 49-47, at the 11:36 mark. Jackson silenced the crowd with an old-fashioned 3-point play, followed by a deep triple to spark a 10-2 run. After a pair of triples from Kretzer, the Zips the led by 11 points, 67-56, with 6:59 remaining in the contest.
The Razorback used the next three-and-a-half minutes to rally with a 15-8 run, cutting the Zips' lead to 75-71. Cheatham ended the run with a three that Arkansas matched. With 1:50 remaining, Akron held an 80-74 advantage, and after a Razorback lay-in, Jackson struck with another 3-point play the hard way. A pair of free throws by Johnson put the game out of reach, 88-80, with seven second left.
Akron will continue the 2015 NIT Season Tip-Off, playing No. 11 Villanova, Green Bay and Charleston Southern. The Zips travel to Villanova, Pa., to take on No. 11 ranked Villanova Wildcats on Sunday, Nov. 22 at 4:30 p.m. ET.
(Courtesy of UA Athletics)