Time, it does fly. This month (Feb. 10 to be exact) marks the 20th anniversary of the much-hyped mid-season showdown between No. 1 (and defending national champion) UNLV and No. 2 Arkansas in Barnhill Arena. Yikes - could my memories of that wild Sunday afternoon really be two decades old? On the other hand, given the moribund state of the program over the past decade, that contest seems more like 40 years ago.
The Hogs, of course, lost that nationally televised game. And for those of you too young to remember, don't be deceived by the 112-105 final score. After taking a one-point lead into the half, the Hogs quickly got steamrolled and were down by more than 20 points for much of the second half. A meaningless garbage-time scoring spree by Ernie Murry, the pride of Wabbaseka, prevented the final margin from reflecting the truly lopsided nature of the game.
As thorough as it was, that loss was a rare one for the 1991 Razorback basketball squad. Theirs is a record that gets more impressive as the years go by: 34-4. Included among the victories was a Preseason NIT win over the eventual national champion Duke Blue Devils.
Their other statistics continue to dazzle as well: they averaged 99.6 points a game, broke the 100-point mark 20 times, shot 50 percent from the field and 76 percent from the charity stripe, and forced their opponents to commit 854 turnovers. Perhaps their only statistical blemish was that they got outrebounded on the season by a margin of 1,554 to 1,540. Richardson's squads — even his very best ones — routinely got beat on the boards, a fact that caused the ultra-grumpy fringe of Hog fans no small amount of anguish.
Led by Todd Day, Lee Mayberry and Oliver Miller, and featuring a supporting cast of Arlyn Bowers, Ron Huery, Ernie Murry, Isaiah "Butch" Morris and Roosevelt Wallace, that '91 team was quite clearly the most offensively skilled squad in Razorback history. And yet ... my memories of that season aren't as fond as the numbers suggest they should be.
For starters, many of the players on that team weren't terribly likeable. Wallace, in fact, may be my least favorite Razorback of all time - his tackle of Missouri's Anthony Peeler on a fast break one season later is the dirtiest play I can remember any Hog basketballer making.
And then there were the losses. Although they were few in number, they were ugly — and came in the season's biggest games. Against Arizona, Texas and Kansas, the Hogs watched double-digit second-half leads turn into double-digit losses. And as mentioned above, they got pounded by UNLV. One couldn't escape the conclusion that when the going got tough … those Hogs weren't that tough.
Of course, the worst memory of the season by far is the infamous "dorm incident" that hung over the team during the season's final games.
They could be entertaining as hell to watch, but too many of the memories left behind by the 1991 Hogs aren't ones to treasure.