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Celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the 1994 Championship: Tested in Tulsa

In which the #1 team ran into a challenge just before Christmas.

Arkansas hasn't played Tulsa since January 2007, but periodically throughout their histories, the Razorbacks and Golden Hurricane have played pretty frequently, with the Hogs holding just a 36-24 overall edge (but going 12-2 since 1978).

From 1988-1994 the two schools played six times, including this memorable matchup on December 23rd, 1993.

A few days earlier, on December 18th, Arkansas beat Jackson State in Bud Walton Arena. Corey Beck scored his career-best 23 points and had 7 rebounds and 5 assists. Attendance: 20,084.

The Hogs were still rolling as the nation's #1 team having dispatched Jackson State a few days earlier in Fayetteville 96-80. But they hit the road just before Christmas for the second time that season to take on nearby Tulsa, who at that time was coached by a young up-and-comer named Tubby Smith.

It had all the makings of an upset. Darnell Robinson and Lee Wilson didn't play reportedly due to injury. That was a pretty solid Tulsa team that would finish 23-8 and would win the Missouri Valley Conference. It was somewhat of a rivalry considering how close the campuses are to one another. At least the New York Times labeled as a legit rivalry.

And sure enough, the Hogs got off to a slow start. The Razorbacks scored 45 points in the first half but 40 Minutes of Hell defense couldn't slow down the Golden Hurricane, who went into halftime with 50 points of their own, giving them a 5 point lead.

The Hogs jumped out on a 12-4 run to open the second half and take the lead, but momentum was halted when Dwight Stewart picked up a technical foul and actually fouled out crazy early with 16:52 left.

It was a tight game all the way to the end. Tulsa's Gary Collier had an awesome game, scoring 30 points and grabbing 14 rebounds, but he eventually fouled out in overtime. He was actually one of three Tulsa players to foul out.

The Golden Hurricane led 89-87 in overtime until Clint McDaniel, who finished with 16 points, 5 assists and 4 rebounds, scored four points to give the Razorbacks a 91-89 lead. Tulsa tied it, but it was Corliss Williamson, who had a monster game for the Hogs, hit a jump hook from the baseline with three seconds to go to give Arkansas the 93-91 win and avoid double overtime.

Big Nasty finished with what at the time was his career high 27 points and 9 rebounds. This was a couple of days after the Jackson State game when he threw up a 25 and 10.

Scotty Thurman finished with 15 points, Al Dillard hit four threes for his 12 points, and Stewart had 10 when he fouled out. Corey Beck also fouled out with four points. There was a lot of fouling going on that night.

Unfortunately, I couldn't find video of this game online even though I think I remember watching it on TV. At least I think I remember Williamson hitting the shot at the end. Or maybe I was just listening on the radio.

That would not be the last time Arkansas played Tulsa that season. We'll get to the second game later. There's definitely video of it.