Sully Says: NCAA Tourney memories with the Hogs
It's hard to believe that it's been 15 years.
I'm talking about that wonderful NCAA Tourney run.
Do you remember Nolan's first NCAA tourney team? Ron Huery, Mario Credit, Andrew Lang, Allie Freeman, Tim Scott, Keith Wilson, Larry Marks and Cannon Whitby. They won 21 games and lost to Villanova in the first round of the NCAA tourney.
No more first round exits
Mayberry, Day and Miller.
Nolan's first tourney win was a classic. They decided to run with Loyola Marymount. Hank Gathers had 28 and Bo Kimble had 24, but Arkansas' big four combined for 100 points. Mario Credit led the way with 34, Lenzie Howell had 27 and the two freshmen - Lee Mayberry and Todd Day - teamed up to produce 39 points and 12 assists. The Hogs won that game 120-101. Two days later, "Never Nervous" Pervis Ellison led Louisville to a 93-84 win over the Hogs.
A year later, the Hogs officially became a big-time player in sports' most compelling tourney. They knocked off Princeton, Dayton, North Carolina and Texas on their way to their first Final Four.
They didn't just beat North Carolina; they destroyed the Tarheels. Oliver Miller didn't miss a shot. He was 7-7 from the floor and 5-5 from the line. Lenzie Howell led the way with 25 points, Lee Mayberry had 19 and Todd Day 18 as the Hogs ripped a Carolina team that featured Rick Fox, George Lynch, Hubert Davis and Scott Williams. The final was 96-73. Duke ended the Hogs' 10 game winning streak in Denver. Phil Henderson had 28 in the Blue Devils' 97-83 win.
That 1990-91 team was something to watch. They scored 100 or more points in 20 games. They are the only Razorback team to ever break 100 in a loss.
It was February 10, 1991, at Barnhill Arena; #1 vs. #2. UNLV outscored the Hogs 66-55 in the final 20 minutes en route to a 112-105 win. That incredible season would end with an Elite Eight loss to Kansas. The second half was 20 minutes of hell for Nolan's Hogs. Kansas outscored the Hogs 58-34 in the second half.
The 1991-92 season featured one of the most frustrating tourney losses of the Richardson era. The Hogs post-season run ended with a shocking second round meltdown against Memphis. The Tigers rallied from 10 down at half to win by two, 82-80.
Enter Corliss and Scotty
The 1992-93 season would end with a Sweet 16 loss. A young Arkansas team pushed 4th ranked Carolina for 40 minutes but the Tarheels managed to hold on for an 80-74 win.
Still, that season set the stage for the best two year run in Razorback history.
Nolan added three key pieces for 1993-94 season: freshman big men Darnell Robinson and Lee Wilson, plus sharpshooter Al Dillard joined an already loaded Hog roster.
Their first real Tourney challenge came in the Elite 8. Juwan Howard scored 30 but the Hogs hit 10 threes on their way to a 76-68 win. They silenced the most dynamic backcourt in college basketball at the Final Four. Arizona's Damon Stoudamire and Khalid Reeves combined to go two for 22 from three point range as the Hogs advanced with a 91-82 win.
Some surprising numbers from the National Championship win over Duke. The Hogs had one of their worst shooting nights of the season. They shot 39 percent from the floor, 28 percent from three point range and 58 percent from the line. They won by forcing a normally sound Duke team to commit 22 turnovers.
Survive and advance
The 1994-95 season: a post-season that could have ended with a first, second or third round loss ended in Seattle with another Championship game appearance.
My biggest memory from that run to the final came in game one of the Final Four. North Carolina with Rasheed Wallace and Jerry Stackhouse looked like a good bet to get by a Hog team that had appeared to have lost their killer instinct. Carolina's big two combined for only 28 points and the Hogs whipped Carolina 75-68.
The Last Chapter
Three freshman - Kareem Reid, Pat Bradley and Derek Hood - keyed a run to the Sweet 16 in the 1995-96 season. The Hogs knocked off two Top 25 teams - Penn St and Marquette - before getting whacked by John Calipari's top ranked UMASS Minutemen in the Sweet 16.
The next three seasons included a run to the Final Four of the N.I.T. and a pair of second round losses in the NCAA tourney.
The Swagger was gone
The Hogs did make two more tourney appearances under Nolan, two under Stan Heath and one under John Pelphrey, but it wasn't the same.
You have to go back to that 1997-98 season to find a Razorback team that ended the season with a Top 25 ranking.