With time running out, Oklahoma State missed two point-blank shots and the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville escaped the Big 12-SEC Challenge on Saturday with a 66-65 victory at Walton Arena, and the two most successful coaches in Razorbacks history had to smile.
In attendance were Eddie Sutton, who laid the foundation for the Razorbacks program, and Nolan Richardson, who built a national power. Both were firm believers in defense first, defense second and then more defense.
Sutton may have struggled smiling at the outcome -- he coached at both schools and graduated from OSU when it was Oklahoma A&M -- but both coaches loved defense and that's what won the game for Arkansas on a day when the Hogs' offense struggled except for Daryl Macon, who led all scorers with 22 points.
In the second half, the Hogs forced nine turnovers, and that led to 13 lead changes and five ties in a game where they trailed for more than 32 minutes.
With 17 seconds to play, the Razorbacks trailed 65-64 when Anton Beard tossed up his ninth miss of the game. But freshman Daniel Gafford tipped in the miss and a game that seemed to spend more time with referees reviewing out-of-bounds plays than actual action was in the books, albeit after two Cowboys misses from close range in the final seconds.
There wasn't really much concern when the Razorbacks fell behind 40-32 at the half. Slow starts and fast finishes are becoming their reputation.
Granted, there has been some questions as to the sudden two-year extension for Coach Mike Anderson, but the new contract didn't shake the bank. His buyout remains at $1 million for each year remaining on his contract, which is slightly more than former athletic director Jeff Long got for himself.
The concern for Anderson's extension is probably more aftershock that Bret Bielema got $15.4 million of money fans have donated to the Razorback Foundation, and that is where his and Long's money came from, the fans.
That buyout was most likely a part of the reason Long was fired, but it seems fairly obvious Bielema was going to be gone after a disappointing season and the UA Board of Trustees just simply didn't trust Long to make the right football hire.
He was the same guy that gave the Razorbacks Nation John L. Smith before hiring Bielema away from Wisconsin. The two combined for 13 SEC victories the past six seasons.
Those two things got Long canned, but it was the huge buyout of Bielema that has kept some fans concerned. On Saturday, a very polite tweet asked Long what he was thinking giving Bielema such a big payday, and Long, who loves to tweet, said he wasn't allowed to say since he was terminated.
That brought a reply from a different fan who basically asked if Long was using that as an excuse to not answer the question. A $15.4 million reward for winning only 11 SEC games in five years is simply bad business and taking advantage of the fan base.
Anderson's extension was nothing close to that and will, if nothing else, help him continue to recruit, especially in Arkansas, which is going through an upswing in basketball talent in the high school ranks right now.
Anderson has a 143-80 record at Arkansas, and his current team seems poised to make a run into the NCAA Tournament again.
Anderson showed strong leadership in the Razorbacks' double-overtime victory over Georgia on Tuesday and is doing a masterful job of mixing two true freshmen into a team with six seniors.
Against Oklahoma State, the Hogs used Anderson's defense to win a game on a day when their offense seemed to be taking the day off.
Sports on 01/28/2018
Print Headline: Hogs' defense reminiscent of Eddie, Nolan