Celebrating the 20th Anniversary of 1994: Week 2 - The Al Dillard Game

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The Razorbacks finally enter Bud Walton Arena ranked #1 in the nation after Kentucky loses to Indiana, and the Hogs don't disappoint.

One of my favorite things about the 1994 team is that when you ask people who their favorite player on the team was, the answer could be almost anybody on the roster.

Even though everyone acknowledges he was the best player on the team, I've found very few people will go with Corliss Williamson, and that's not a knock against him at all. Big Nasty remains a beloved figure in the state 20 years later, and likely will be forever. But it's a testament to how great the team was that fans to this day identify with so many various attributes of the other players on the team. The star isn't the only one remembered. Many people might answer with Corey Beck's toughness or Dwight Stewart's ability to shoot as a big man or Clint McDaniel's defense or Scotty Thurman in the clutch.

For people like me and, reportedly, Bill Clinton, many have a thing for the great shooters. And in one otherwise meaningless game in early December, Al Dillard became a Razorback legend. Taking on Delaware State on December 11, 1993, Arkansas was expected to win easily, and they did by a final score of 123-66. But the only thing anyone remembers is Dillard's 39 points and 12 threes in 25 minutes. And these weren't run-of-the-mill threes either. Players were throwing him the ball anywhere on the court and Dillard would pop up and launch one. It was such a beautiful shot to watch.

When asked about Dillard's range, Nolan Richardson famously said, "when he walks into the gym."

And, thankfully, there's video to let it live forever:

Dillard was also a great story. He was 25 years old during the championship season, and his journey to an elite basketball program was hardly traditional. He was a high school drop out who was working fast food and playing playground basketball until his girlfriend convinced him to get his GED and go to junior college, where he made the basketball team and was soon after recruited by Richardson.

I highly recommend this Los Angeles Times feature from 1994 for more on Dillard's journey and his role on the 1994 team.

*****

Also this week:

After destroying what would become a very good Missouri team, Arkansas really didn't play a very impressive non-conference schedule.

They did travel to Memphis on December 8th to take on the Tigers in the Pyramid. It was just a 2-point game at halftime but the Razorbacks crushed Memphis St in the second half 54-38 to claim the 96-78 victory.

It was a starter-heavy performance by Arkansas on the road. Williamson, Stewart, McDaniel, and Thurman combined for 62 points. Dillard hit four threes for his 12 points and Darnell Robinson pitched in 11. Nobody else had more than five. However, Memphis St's David Vaughn was the game's leading scorer with 20 points on 7-10 sooting. He had no help, though.

The Razorbacks forced 27 turnovers, including 15 steals. Attendance in Memphis that day was 20,142.

Before the game against the Tigers, Arkansas hosted Northwestern State in Fayetteville on December 4th. It was a rout. The Razorbacks won 111-76. It was vintage 40 Minutes of Hell. Arkansas actually attempted 92 field goals, which would be a staggering number in today's game (this year's Hogs attempted just 51 against Clemson last weekend). They forced 30 turnovers seven players scored in double digits, led by Dillard with 21 points and 5-for-10 three point shooting. Attendance at Bud Walton was 19,886.

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