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2001: A Basketball Odyssey

With the Hogs off to a 0-3 start in conference play, Arkansas fans could use a little morale boost. In an effort to provide one, I recently reviewed the past decade of Razorback hoops to see if any team during that time had rallied from such a record to have a decent season.

In the 10 seasons before this one, three Arkansas teams - the 2001, '03 and '04 squads - opened conference play with three straight losses. The 2004 Razorbacks finished with a 4-12 conference record and a 12-16 record overall. The 2003 team also had a 4-12 record in the SEC and ended the year 9-19 overall.

So far, not so good. Morale sinking.

But the 2001 Hogs - they of Joe Johnson, Jannero Pargo, Teddy Gipson and Brandon Dean - may make you feel a little better. They recovered to post a 10-6 mark in the conference (only one other Arkansas team in the past decade - the 2006 squad - won at least 10 games in SEC play) and finished the season 20-11 overall. They made it to the NCAA Tourney, where they lost in the first round to Georgetown, 63-61, on a heart-breaking last-second shot.

The '01 Razorbacks finished the regular season with five straight wins, won 7 out of 8 home conference games and went 3-5 in SEC road games. The season also marked - believe it or not - our last victory over Kentucky and the last time Nolan Richardson took an Arkansas team to the NCAAs.

At the time, the 2001 season felt like a fairly ho-hum season, especially by the standards of the Richardson era. Now, however, I'd settle for a replay of it in a heartbeat.

(Below is footage from that team's stirring come-from-behind win at South Carolina.)