Hogs Pull Out Tight One Over ‘Horns
The Razorback had won nine in a row heading into another showdown at Bud Walton Arena one week after hosting another Big-12 opponent Oklahoma.
The Longhorns were suppose to be just as tough, too. No, they did not have a offensive firepower as the Sooners did that season but they played tight defense under head coach Rick Barnes. Led by Damion James, Dexter Pittman and A.J. Abrams, the ‘Horns were looking for victory number 12 in a road against the Hogs in wild Bud Walton Arena. In their first matchup in Fayetteville since 1991.
Former Razorback Men’s Basketball Coach, Eddie Sutton, was in attendance as well to watch the two former Southwest Conference rivals face off. The Hogs had won 42 straight non-conference home games and six consecutive home victories against top 25 opponents.
Arkansas was able to get off to a hot start early against the Longhorns. Coming off a block by Razorback center Mike Washington, Stefan Welsh drove to the baseline off a screen for a layup. No Longhorn player switched off to defend him for the easy two. The Hogs were able to rebound and head back to the offensive end. Welsh was able to get the ball again and with a couple of spin moves he shot a fade-away for two and the Hogs were up 10-6 four minutes in. Off another empty possession for the Longhorns Welsh dribble drove and dumped the pass off to the right wing to freshman Rotnei Clarke for a three and the Hogs raced out to a 13-6 lead.
The Longhorns raced to a 6-2 run to put the game to 14–12. The Hogs quickly inbounded the ball as Welsh drove the court. He would find Washington racing to the free throw line, took the pass and drove to the basket for a dunk to extend the lead back to four. Shortly after made free throws and a turnover for the Hogs, Texas would airball a three but fell right into Dexter Pittman’s hands and up he went for a dunk to take a 19-18 lead. Their first since an early 6-4 lead.
Arkansas would continue to struggle as Fortson took a spill to the floor as he turned the basketball over to Texas again. After a breakaway dunk, Texas’ Damion James and it looked like the ‘Horns had put the pedal to the metal to the halftime break. As Texas would extend their lead to seven, Welsh would take a pass from the left wing and drive to the lane for a right hand runner to bring the Hogs within five 27-22. After a physical first half, Texas would take a 31-27 halftime lead as they looked to take control in the second half.
As the game resumed in the second half, Longhorn forward Justin Mason found a runner in the lane to extend the Texas lead to six 33-27. After an out of control Fortson gave up a pass to Welsh in the lane he would find a runner from a few feet from the basket good and the Hogs pulled back within four.
After a dunk by James, Arkansas would inbound it as Welsh would shoot a three on the left wing no good but Fortson hauled in a long rebound on the baseline. He would turn to his left and find Clarke wide open to bury a three way beyond the arc to pull the Hogs within three. Texas would again extend their lead to eight with a layup 43-35. After an and-1 by Washington, Fortson would force a steal and convert his first field goal in the game on a floater in the lane to cut the Texas lead in half.
Two possessions later, Fortson would bounce off a couple of Texas defenders and make a pass to the right corner for a three point basket by Welsh to pull within one point. A few possessions later, Abrams would take a three pointer from the left wing with two Hogs in his face and bury it. A dagger it seemed for Texas’ first made three point field goal of the game to extend their lead back to four. After a made field goal by James of Texas, Washington would extend the Longhorn defense to the perimeter as he would make his first three point basketball of the game and the Hogs would cut the lead back to three.
After a bad pass to James in the post, Fortson would pick his pocket and lead another fast break finding Welsh down low for a layup and the Hogs were within one again. Bud Walton and fans at home were wondering if their Hogs would be able to take the lead during this run. With 6:52 to go there was plenty of time. Off an empty possession by Texas, Fortson led a very good sequence of ball movement. He would throw a very hard pass to Brandon Moore as he would find Washington in the post for a two hand slam and-1. The Hogs would finally take the lead with 5:29 to go and they would not look back. Arkansas would force another empty possession for Texas as Fortson would take a dribble-stop-go at the elbow and would slash his way to the basket for two. Pittman would find a layup and and-1 for Texas to pull back within two.
After a steal by Texas that would lead to a dunk, Fortson would find Welsh on the wing again for three again, his third of the ball game. Another Fortson made layup would push the Hogs lead back to five. With less a minute remaining Texas forced another turnover with a tip in off a missed shot, Moore would pull Texas within one.
In the most memorable moment of the games Fortson was looking to find anyone he could to dump off a pass to and hope to put the game away. When the play broke down he would find Washington at the top of the key. After a pump fake three point shot by Washington he would put the ball on the floor and drive to the basket for an and-1 dunk as Bud Walton erupted as their Razorbacks would put the game away and win the 151st meeting between the two programs.
After three offensive rebounds and missed baskets by Texas in the final seconds, Fortson would pull in the rebound, heave it to Welsh as he would score a layup with 1.5 seconds to go. That would make the final score 67-61 and the Razorbacks and their fans were in Hog Heaven as the defeated their second top ten opponent in a week.
Washington: 22 points, 9 rebounds Welsh: 20 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists Fortson: 13 points, 10 rebounds 5 assists Clarke: 6 points Sanchez: 4 points, 4 rebounds
Razorbacks: 38.7% from the field, 27% from three.