The Razorbacks were riding a 5-game winning streak and held a 17-2 record after the big wins over Kentucky and Florida.
They mostly cruised through the rest of the regular season. But they did play an amazing game in Baton Rouge that went to overtime. The Hogs you might recall only beat LSU by one point in Fayetteville, and the Tigers certainly believed they could compete with the Hogs on their own home court. And they did.
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Just watching those highlights is intense. The game went back and forth. Scotty Thurman hit some ridiculous threes, including the one that won the game (foreshadowing, again). He also made the dangerous pass to Al Dillard at the end of regulation so that he could hit the three to send the game to overtime. Dillard's shot was so pure the net barely moved.
Corliss Williamson hit big shots, Corey Beck had a big putback. And LSU just kept coming.
Jamie Brandon missed a three that would have sent the game to double overtime, but he still had 20 points. Clarence Ceaser led everybody with 33 points and 12 rebounds. It was a monster effort that nearly resulted in a big upset.
But the Hogs won the nail-biter. Thurman led with 27 points and six rebounds. Williamson had 20 and seven. Corey Beck had 10 and nine. Dillard had 16 (and only nine of those came on threes).
Their first opponent as the #1 team in America was a rematch against Alabama on February 16th. The Crimson Tide, you might recall, handed Arkansas its first loss of the season back on January 8th in Tuscaloosa by two points.
There would be no such drama in the return game.
Arkansas jumped out to a 42-35 halftime lead, but then Corliss Williamson scored 10 points in the first four minutes of the second half as the Razorbacks jumped out on a run that would result in 60 second half points.
Arkansas won 102-81. Big Nasty finished with 20 points and 4 rebounds. Three other players were in double figures. Al Dillard hit four threes and finished with 16 points. The team had 20 assists for 36 field goals (Alabama had 11 for 27), forced 25 turnovers, and knocked down 13 of 31 three point attempts. Attendance: 20,262.
From there, Ole Miss made the mistake of playing Arkansas in Memphis instead of Oxford.
The Rebels kept the game tight in the first half, and the score was actually tied at 36 at halftime. It helped Ole Miss' cause that Williamson only played five first-half minutes due to foul trouble, and that good fortune was nonexistent in the second half, when Williamson scored 19 of his 21 points. Arkansas won 90-73.
The Rebels never could overtake Arkansas in the second half, and once three of the their best players - Ervin Garnes, David Johnson, and Jarrell Evans - all fouled out in the span of about a minute with over five minutes left to play in the game, it was pretty much over. Scotty Thurman had 13 points and Clint McDaniel had 11. Lee Wilson had nine rebounds.
Arkansas then traveled to Athens for a sludgy game against Georgia on February 22nd.
The Hogs were trailing in the first half before going on a 14-3 run taking a 39-32 lead into halftime. They then held the Bulldogs at arm's length in the second half and finished with a 74-65 road victory.
Thurman was the star this time, as he had 25 points and eight rebounds. Williamson had 15 and eight. Dwight Stewart had 12 points, half of which came on his trademark three point shot.
The Razorbacks then returned home for a game against Auburn on February 26th. It was basically routine. Arkansas raced to a 46-35 halftime lead. The Tigers, behind Wesley Person's 22 points and Lance Weems' 19, kept it close in the second half. Arkansas didn't ice the game until McDaniel and Corey Beck each hit a pair of late free throws.
Thurman led the Hogs again with 21 points. Williamson had a 20 & 11 double-double. Stewart had 16. Attendance: 20,208.
Arkansas closed regular season play by hosting Mississippi State on March 5th. Arkansas of course lost to the Bulldogs by one point in Starkville, and like the rematch with Alabama, State had no chance when they made the return trip to Fayetteville.
Darryl Wilson had a good game for the Bulldogs, scoring 24 and pulling down 10 boards, but that was basically all Mississippi State could do. They kept the game reasonably close in the first half, but Arkansas pulled away in the second, outscoring them 41-27 and winning easily.
Williamson had 27 and nine. Thurman pitched in 15.
And then, tournament time.