The Fight Is On The Hogs struggled in wins over North Carolina A&T and Georgetown - Sports Illustrated Vault |
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The Fight Is On The Hogs struggled in wins over North Carolina A&T and Georgetown

AS HIS his No. 1-seeded Razorbacks entered the NCAA tournament for
their first-round game against North Carolina A&T at the Midwest
subregional in Oklahoma City, Nolan Richardson didn't say that he was
going to control the tempo or play inside-out or make any of the
other rather technical claims that other coaches are prone to make.
What he was looking for instead from the Hogs was simple mayhem. ''I
like street fights,'' Richardson said before the game. ''I like to
get our games into street-fight action. Bite and scratch and claw.
There's a big difference in a boxer and a fighter. I don't ever want
to be a boxer.''
Richardson didn't get what he wanted in the Razorbacks' rather
lifeless 94-79 win over the 16th-seeded Aggies. ''We didn't play a
totally terrible game,'' he tepidly put it. But when the Hogs faced
Georgetown in the second round, they appeared ready to take on the
world. With 3:23 to play in the first half and Arkansas leading the
Hoyas 34-33, guard Clint McDaniel lost his head when Georgetown
forward Robert Churchwell got tangled up with him while . fouling
McDaniel in the lane. When the pair crashed to the floor, McDaniel
delivered an elbow to Churchwell's noggin. Then, as they rose, he
lashed out with a foot toward Churchwell's midsection. In street
fighting, as opposed to the sweet science, the first and only rule is
that anything goes. This being basketball, however, anyone went:
While McDaniel was assessed a technical foul, his teammate Scotty
Thurman and Georgetown forward Don Reid were ejected for leaving the
bench to join the scuffle.
Richardson later apologized to Hoya coach John Thompson for the
disorderly conduct, and he had no quarrel with the heave-ho given to
Thurman. ''Scotty got caught up in the rule; it's that simple,''
Richardson said. ''I was part of making the rule, and it's a good
Although the fracas was free of biting, scratching and clawing, it
had the sort of effect Richardson had described in his
street-fighting soliloquy: It inspired the Hogs. ''When Scotty went
out, Clint had three fouls,'' guard Corey Beck said. ''All of us knew
we had to step up.''
Forward Corliss Williamson hugged Thurman as he walked off the
court. ''I told him we were going to win the game,'' Williamson
recalled. ''I hadn't been asserting myself, so I brought my game to
another level.''
Sufficiently pumped up, Arkansas expanded a 43-39 halftime edge
into a 65-52 advantage behind Williamson, who was hell-bent on
keeping his promise. He pounded inside for six points on a pair of
short jumpers and two free throws in one key stretch and would finish
with 21 points, six rebounds, five assists and four blocked shots as
Arkansas bulled its way to an 85-73 victory. Dwight Stewart provided
the outside firepower in Thurman's absence, going 4 for 4 from the
three-point arc. The Hogs' effort was further hampered when reserve
Roger Crawford broke his right ankle in the second half, but freshman
center Darnell Robinson, who was making only his third start and his
first since midseason, scored 13 points and was a presence at both
ends of the floor.
The decision to start Robinson is indicative of Richardson's
ability to get the most out of his team. The coach had not been
impressed with the Hogs' performance against North Carolina A&T, a
game in which the Razorbacks held a mere 72-68 advantage with 9:01 to
go against a trillion-to-one-shot team that had the worst record
(16-13) of any of the tournament's 64 teams. Down the stretch against
the Aggies, Robinson contributed mightily, and he played with a
passion that Richardson found lacking in some of his Hogs. ''He was
the only guy showing any enthusiasm,'' Richardson said, and as a
reward Robinson started in place of Dwight Stewart against
While Richardson may not have seemed too concerned about X's and
O's in Oklahoma City, he thought he needed an XXL to bang with the
Hoyas. So he deployed Robinson, Williamson and Stewart in what he
calls his ''treetops'' lineup for most of the second half, and the
Hogs held Georgetown's vaunted center, Othella Harrington, to nine
points and a season-low three rebounds. The ejection of Reid shrunk
the Hoyas and made his strategy even more effective, but Thompson
found no fault with McDaniel's elbow and the resultant altercation,
even if it hindered his chances to win the game. ''When you have a
prize as big as the one we're trying to get, emotions will fly,'' he
said. ''We're not here to penalize kids, we're here to teach. Nothing
happened from then on, so it shows the refs handled it properly.''
Richardson was clearly satisfied with the Hogs' performance after
their lackluster opener. ''I'm like Columbo,'' he said afterward.
''There are many ways to skin a cat. Our style of play is running,
but Georgetown is a very physical ball club. We don't attack the
glass well at times because we're so spread out trapping. So I wanted
to take advantage of the glass attack.''
For the Razorbacks, attack was a word to describe their play
against Georgetown. The fight now was truly on.