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OPINION | WALLY HALL: Razorbacks’ victory still worth celebrating

by Wally Hall | March 22, 2023 at 4:59 a.m.

One of the beauties of being a fan is you get to marinate in a huge win for as long as you want, while the players have to move on to the next challenge, or at least they better if they want more of March Madness.

Arkansas trailed Kansas by as much as 12 in the second half Saturday and as disciplined as the Jayhawks were, the relentless Razorback defense was more than they could handle.

Davonte "Devo" Davis put on a clinic and outscored Kansas 14-9 during a stretch when the Jayhawks had no answer for the high flying Davis, who soared over and around them for 21 second-half points.

He was not a one-man show and said so after the game. It was a great team win over one of the most storied programs in the country.

When a No. 8 seed beats a No. 1 seed it is always special, but this one was over the defending national champions so the win meant more than even the win over No. 1 seed Gonzaga last year.

So there has been debates about where the game ranks all time, and the opinion here it is in the top five.

The No. 1 game was played April 4, 1994 ,when the Razorbacks beat Duke for the national championship.

The Blue Devils had become a national power under Mike Krzyzewski and had won consecutive national championships in 1991-92, and he would win three more before he retired.

Beating Duke in Charlotte, N.C., just 145 miles from the Blue Devils' campus, was a tall chore, but Nolan Richardson's scramble defense took its toll as did his inside-out offense with Corliss Williamson in the middle.

Williamson was the only player drafted by the NBA although a couple of more had a cup of coffee in the league or played professionally overseas.

Scotty Thurman's three-point shot with 50 seconds to play would make the difference, but it took a rebound by Clint McDaniel with 28.4 seconds left and free throws by him and Corey Beck to set the win at 76-72.

In 1978, only 32 teams were invited to the NCAA Tournament and the Razorbacks were told to go west. The Eddie Sutton-coached team opened with a win over Weber State, which was very good back then, but then Arkansas faced the UCLA Bruins.

From 1963 to 1974, UCLA won 10 national championships, including eight in a row.

In 1978, they were 25-3 and undefeated in conference play and opened NCAA play with an 83-76 win over Kansas.

The Triplets -- Sidney Moncrief, Marvin Delph and Ron Brewer -- were fearless and combined to score 63 points in the 74-70 victory over the Bruins.

That win put the Arkansas Razorbacks on the national basketball radar and they pretty much stayed there until 2002.

Eddie Sutton laid a foundation and Nolan Richardson built a trophy tower that may never be equaled.

Over the next 20 years, the Razorbacks went from being feared to almost forgotten.

Then, after an extensive search, Hunter Yurachek brought in Eric Musselman, who was mostly a pro coach who changed career paths in 2012 and started learning the college game. After two seasons at Arizona State and one at LSU as an assistant, he became the head coach at Nevada for four years.

He was 2-2 in the NCAA Tournament at Nevada and is currently 8-2 in March Madness at Arkansas.

Exactly how far the Musselman magic carpet ride will last is something no one knows for sure, but last Saturday against one of the historical programs of college basketball he coached his shirt off.

Every Razorback player had a big moment and when they went into a short scoring drought, Devo went to work and brought down a giant.

Print Headline: Razorbacks’ victory still worth celebrating


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