There's been so much written about the 1994 National Championship, so I think the only thing I can say about it that might be unique is my own story.
I was 11 years old throughout nearly all of that season (turned 12 during the NCAA Tournament in March). So my formative years as a Razorback fan were during the basketball program's peak, and football was irrelevant. Even though I did attend some football games at War Memorial growing up (I was raised in Little Rock) basketball is the only thing my friends and I cared about at this point.
However, I'd never attended a basketball game. I remember my grandparents were fortunate enough to go to the last game at Barnhill against LSU and brought back a t-shirt commemorating when "The Lights Went Out At Barnhill" or something to the effect. It's one of the many Razorback treasures that have been lost over the years unfortunately.
But when the next season started, my uncle was running a concession stand in Bud Walton for a reason I can't recall, and my Mom took me to Fayetteville and we were able to volunteer in his concession stand for two non conference games that fall, including the first exhibition game. Those are the two times I was able to see the team in person. I snuck out of the concession stand periodically to stand in the entryway at the top of the stairs at midcourt to watch bits and pieces of the game.
I remember the arena was full, as you'd expect. There was a sound meter behind the team bench that lit upward as the crowd got louder. The team was great. It was awesome.
So many Arkansas fans have special memories tied to this team. Since this is the 20th anniversary, I thought it would be fun to do a post each week chronicling what was going on with the team at that point in the season. We'll post the accompanying videos when they're available.
And 20 years ago today was one of Arkansas basketball's most dominant ever moments.
A few days after officially opening the season against Murray State, Arkansas officially dedicated Bud Walton Arena by welcoming the Missouri Tigers into Fayetteville on December 2nd.
The Tigers were not a ranked team at the beginning of the year, but finished 28-4, including 14-0 in the Big 8 and made a run to the Elite 8. They finished in the top 5 nationally. It's rightfully remembered as one of Missouri's best teams ever and they even celebrated a reunion earlier this fall in Columbia.
And Arkansas absolutely destroyed them. Destroyed is too kind. Annihilation. Evisceration. You've heard of bringing a knife to a gunfight? Missouri brought water balloons.
Fortunately, a lengthy highlight video is available on YouTube. Enjoy:
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So beautiful. The crowd energy is amazing. The announced attendance was 20,212.
The final score was 120-68. Arkansas led 45-22 at halftime and scored a whopping 75 points in the second half. Scotty Thurman led the team with 18 points. Seven Hogs scored in double figures. The Razorbacks forced 27 turnovers including 18 steals. It was nearly as perfect a basketball game as a team can play.
"We won't play that good again," said Nolan Richardson afterward. But they'd continue to to play pretty well.
With that, Arkansas was 2-0 and the season was off. Arkansas opened the season ranked #3, but North Carolina, who opened the season #1, lost an early game to UMass, moving the Hogs up to #2 by December 2nd. As we all know, they wouldn't stay at #2 for long.