From Schmidt’s Barn to the Bud: An Illustrated History of Arkansas Men’s Basketball
Born into meager beginnings, the University of Arkansas didn’t even have a gym to house its first basketball team. It was 1924 — nearly 10 years after Arkansas helped establish the Southwest Conference — when the Razorbacks officially fielded their first basketball team. Practically an afterthought among the athletics department, Arkansas basketball eventually became one of the nation’s top programs, transfixing a state that had shined only in football on the NCAA stage.
An early iteration of the Lady Razorbacks pose for a team picture in 1909. Women seemingly formed the university’s first basketball squad, but the sport existed only at the club level. Although records show a women’s team existed as far back as 1908, women’s basketball wasn’t sanctioned by the university until 1977.
Francis A. Schmidt is the patriarch of Arkansas basketball. Schmidt — a Kansas native who played football at the University of Nebraska — came to Arkansas in 1922 from the University of Tulsa. Schmidt not only coached the basketball team, but oversaw Arkansas’ athletics department and coached the football and baseball teams. To fill out a basketball roster, he assembled a motley crew of YMCA stars and Razorback football players.
With help from from the business community, Schmidt transformed a former automobile showroom and garage into a field house. Inside was a hardwood floor, an office, showers, lockers, equipment and seating for 1,000 spectators. The make-shift gym was on the west side of campus, near Garland Street, and adjacent to Razorback Field (the original football field). The area, just north of the current Fine Arts Center, served as the school’s defacto sports complex, and included tennis and volleyball courts, a quarter-mile track and a baseball field.
Arkansas logged its first basketball campaign during the 1923-24 season. The Hogs finished 17-11 overall and 3-9 in Southwest Conference play. Arkansas’ seventh-place finish in the SWC wasn’t unexpected, as the league was dominated by more established programs like Texas and Texas A&M.
In the decade following the foundation of the Southwest Conference in 1915, Texas and Texas A&M combined to win nine league titles in basketball. But in only their third season of competition, the Razorbacks captured the 1926 SWC championship in dominating fashion. Guided by Schmidt, standing in the middle of the back row, Arkansas posted a 23-2 record — going 11-1 in the SWC — and went 4-0 against Texas and Texas A&M. Schmidt was also grooming his protege: standing to his right is Glen Rose, who would return in 1934 lift his alma mater to even greater heights.
Schmidt’s Razorbacks won four straight SWC titles from 1926-1929. He parlayed that success into a head coaching job at conference rival Texas Christian University, departing Arkansas in 1930. Still, Schmidt’s imprint on the program lingered, as fans had nicknamed Arkansas’ rustic gym “Schmidt’s Barn.”
Charles Bassett succeeded Schmidt as head Hog in 1930. Arkansas won its fifth straight SWC title in Bassett’s first year, but the Razorbacks stumbled to a 14-9 record in 1931. Bassett coached two more years, never finishing higher than third in the SWC.
Glen Rose, center, served three years as an assistant under Bassett. In 1934, the university promoted him to head coach to revive a sagging program. After a rocky first season, the former All-American guided the Hogs back to a share of the SWC title in 1935. The following year, Arkansas won the conference outright.
Arkansas opened a new fieldhouse ahead of the 1937 season. The building, located along Garland Avenue near Maple Street, was funded in part by a $307,000 federal loan from the Public Works Administration. The new fieldhouse was the Razorbacks’ first modern basketball facility. It provided seating for 3,500 fans during basketball games and included space for athletic offices and classrooms for the physical education department.
The new field house did triple duty as an athletic facility, concert hall and academic building, providing the latter with space for class registration, graduations, student advising and other on-campus gatherings. Later referred to as the Men’s Gymnasium after a women’s facility was built, the field house was later home to the university’s museum. Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1992, the field house was refurbished in 2015 and transformed into the Jim & Joyce Faulkner Performing Arts Center.
The Razorbacks won their first game in the new field house, beating Drake 31-22 on Dec. 14, 1936 in the season opener. But the building wasn’t formally dedicated until Feb. 4, 1938, when Arkansas walloped TCU 53-26. The program was on the upswing, but bigger milestones still lay ahead.
Arkansas continued dominating the SWC in the 1930s, winning conference titles in 1936 and 1938. But the 1941 squad triumphed by reaching the school’s first Final Four. Only three years old, the tournament featured just eight teams, and Arkansas was the third school to represent the SWC. The Hogs beat Wyoming in the opening round before losing to eventual runner-up Washington State in the semifinals.
Arkansas and Rice tied for the SWC crown in 1942, but the Owls — who split the season series with the Hogs and had the better overall record — were invited to the NCAA Tournament. Rose, above left, subsequently left the program for a head coaching position at Stephen F. Austin. He handed the program reigns to assistant and former player Eugene Lambert, above right. An Arkansas native, Lambert played football and basketball at Arkansas from 1927-30 and brought a mix of college and high school coaching experience to the Hill.
Lambert coached Arkansas from 1943 to 1949. Never winning more than 19 games in a season, Lambert’s Hogs managed to capture to SWC titles (1944, 1949), qualified for two NCAA Tournaments, and reached the Final Four in 1945. Arkansas was invited to the 1944 tournament but had to withdraw after a car accident killed an assistant coach and severely injured two players. Eventual champion Utah replaced Arkansas in the tournament.
Lambert departed for Memphis State University before the start of the 1950 campaign and assistant Presley Askew, above, took over as head coach. Askew, an Oklahoma native who previously coached basketball at Van Buren High School, had a rough outing at Arkansas. His three seasons as head coach are the fewest in school history.
Despite a 12-12 record in Askew’s first season, Arkansas and Baylor shared the SWC title. It was the Hogs’ worst year since 1937 and an omen for Askew’s rocky tenure. In 1951, the Hogs won 13 games, but finished fourth in the SWC. The 1952 team imploded, posting the school’s first losing record and finishing tied for last in the SWC. Arkansas hadn’t finished so poorly since its inaugural season in 1924.
Askew’s tenure did coincide with a memorable change in the Razorbacks’ uniforms. The Hogs briefly wore jerseys that featured the players’ number above and below the school’s name on the front.
Arkansas basketball legend Glen Rose returned to the Hill for the 1953 season. Rose’s second tenure with the Hogs was markedly less successful than his first, as the Hogs qualified for the post season once in 14 years.
This 1955 photo shows a recently completed Barnhill Fieldhouse adjacent to the south endzone of Razorback Stadium. Funding for the new facility came primarily at the behest of Gov. Francis Cherry, who was described in the 1954 Razorback as a “frequent visitor” to the Hill who “rarely misses a Razorback football game which is in or near Arkansas.”
Roughly 4,000 fans came out Thursday, Dec. 1, 1955 to watch Arkansas play its first game in Barnhill Fieldhouse. The Hogs lost a nail-biter to Southeast Oklahoma State, falling 64-65 to the Savage Storm. It was an inauspicious beginning for a building that eventually became synonymous with Hogs victories.
The new fieldhouse took its namesake from John Barnhill, a former college football player and head coach of the Razorbacks from 1946 to 1949. Barnhill was serving as Arkansas’ athletic director when the fieldhouse was built. Reports show construction was plagued by strikes and delays. Once the building was complete, it collapsed, killing one worker and injuring another. Before tip-off on opening night, the scoreboard fell from the rafters, forcing officials to keep score by hand on chalkboards.
Arkansas guard Fred Grim chats with fans after a game in Barnhill Fieldhouse during the 1956 season. Grim, who played for the Hogs from 1956-1958, was named first team All-SWC and honorable mention All-American in 1958.
Like its predecessor, Barnhill Fieldhouse was a multifaceted facility. Inside among the basketball equipment was workout space for the football team, a dirt track for the track team and atlhetic offices. The building also was used for concerts and speaking engagements. Pictured above, a capacity crowd gathers in 1969 to hear Muhammad Ali speak.
Barnhill Fieldhouse was officially dedicated on Friday, Jan. 13, 1956, when a near sellout crowd watched Arkansas crush SWC foe Rice 84-70. The fieldhouse at that time held about 5,000 fans, and the Razorbacks of that era often drew large crowds.
By the late 1950s, the Hogs were acclimated to their new gym, and coach Glen Rose had the program on the upswing. Arkansas was emerging from a three-year slump and had risen in the SWC standings each year between 1953 and 1956.
Despite a disappointing 5th place finish in 1957, Arkansas rebounded to win a share of the SWC in 1958. The Hogs secured a spot in the NCAA Tournament — which had expanded to 24 teams — by beating SMU in a playoff game.
Arkansas had its worst postseason showing in the 1958 tournament. After an opening round bye, Oklahoma State crushed the Hogs by 25 points. In the regional third place game, future NBA Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson torched the Hogs for 56 points as Cincinnati steamrolled Arkansas 97-62. Robertson nearly out-shot the entire team, going 21 of 36 from the floor, with Arkansas finishing 22 of 87.
Consecutive blowout losses to end the 1958 season put the program into a tailspin. Arkansas finished 9-14 in 1959, marking the Hogs’ third losing season in four years. As the 1950s came to a close, Rose’s rebuilding project had stalled and the program was headed toward a decade of futility.
With Arkansas football flourishing in the 1960s, basketball floundered then flat-lined. The gridiron Razorbacks reached seven bowl games in the decade, won or shared five SWC titles and captured the 1964 national championship. Meanwhile, the basketball team failed to make any postseason tournament, never finished higher than third in the SWC and posted just two winning seasons in league play.
With Arkansas football flourishing in the 1960s, basketball floundered then flat-lined. The gridiron Razorbacks reached seven bowl games in the decade, won or shared five SWC titles and captured the 1964 national championship. Meanwhile, the basketball team failed to make any postseason tournament, never finished higher than third in the SWC and posted just two winning seasons in league play.
Glen Rose left Arkansas for the last time after the 1966 season. Rose didn’t coach collegiality after leaving Arkansas, departing with an overall record of 325-201 and one Final Four appearance in 23 seasons with the Razorbacks. Rose was on hand for the final game in Barnhill Arena and saw his alma mater win a national championship in 1994. He died later that year at 89.
Duddy Waller, center, took over the program ahead of the 1966-67 season. Waller’s tenure was unremarkable; in four years at Arkansas, Waller went 31-64 and finished no higher than fifth in the SWC. His 32.6 winning percentage is the lowest among any Hogs basketball coach.
Waller’s lasting imprint on Arkansas’ basketball program was recruiting Almer Lee, who became the first black Razorback to letter in basketball. A Fort Smith native and Northside graduate, Lee transferred to Arkansas from Phillips County Junior College in 1969. His impact was immediate. Lee led the team in scoring in 1970 and 1971 and earned SWC Sophomore of the Year — just five years after the conference’s color barrier was broken. In 2011, Lee was inducted to the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame.
By the late 1960s, Arkansas basketball was on the brink of collapse. Fan interest was nonexistent and attendance was abysmal. Football overshadowed everything, and it didn’t help that Barnhill Fieldhouse was more barn than fieldhouse. Its most athletic usage came as an indoor gym for the football players, who stirred up dirt that left a residue on the hardwood. Basketball coaches and players routinely had to sweep the court clean. Meanwhile, a section of fieldhouse bleachers were removed annually to add seating in Razorback Stadium.
Lanny Van Eman, left, accepted the head coaching job at Arkansas in time for the 1970-71 season. Van Eman was a former college star at Wichita State and a disciple of Hall of Fame coach Ralph Miller. Often overlooked in the annals of Razorbacks basketball history, Van Eman deserves credit for resuscitating a fledgling program and re-igniting the fan base.
Under Van Eman, the Razorbacks played an exciting, up-tempo brand of basketball. Van Eman’s run-and-gun style was ahead of it’s time, and Arkansas basketball later flourished under an improved system implemented by head coach Nolan Richardson.
This unheralded era of Arkansas basketball was marked by high-scoring affairs and renewed fan interest. The Razorbacks’ plodding, drowsy basketball of the 1950s and 1960s was officially extinct. Arkansas had only scored 100 or more points six times between 1950 and 1969. But under Van Eman, breaking the century mark became routine. Arkansas’ 131 points against SWC rival Baylor in 1972 is still the school record for points scored against a conference opponent.
There was one drawback of the Van Eman era: his team’s abhorred defense. Three times the Hogs scored 100 or more and still lost. The 1973-74 Razorbacks exemplified the Van Eman model. Arkansas was 21st in the nation in scoring but second from last — 231 out of 232 — in points allowed.
In four years at Arkansas, Van Eman compiled an underwhelming 39-65 record with no postseason appearances. His 1973 team lost to Texas Tech in the season’s penultimate game. A win would’ve put Arkansas on track for the tournament. Still, the 1973 team finished 16-10 — 9-5 in conference — and Van Eman was recognized for guiding Arkansas to its best season in 16 years (and first winning season in seven years) with SWC Coach of the Year honors.
Van Eman’s tenure also was notable for recruiting Martin Terry, pictured above, and Dean Tolson. Both were phenomenal players and the first black stars of the modern era of Razorbacks basketball. A talented scorer, Terry was named first-team All-SWC in 1972 and 1973, posting scoring averages of 24.3 and 28.3, respectively. Terry still holds the school record for single season and career scoring averages.
Dean Tolson left Arkansas with career scoring and rebounding averages of 18.3 and 11.7 — the latter of which remains the school record. After a brief professional career, Tolson returned to Arkansas in 1987 to complete his degree. Graduating from college was especially noteworthy for Tolson, because he was illiterate while attending UA.
Sensing fan appetite for basketball, UA athletic director Frank Broyles made a splash hire in 1974 by luring Eddie Sutton away from Creighton. Sutton who had risen through the ranks as a high school and community college coach, was fresh from guiding the Blue Jays to the NCAA Tournament. A Kansas native, Sutton played at Oklahoma State (then Oklahoma A&M) in the 1950s under hall of fame coach Henry Iba.
Following two encouraging seasons in 1975 and 1976, Arkansas reemerged on the national scene in Sutton’s third year. The 1977 Razorbacks finished 26-2 overall and won their first SWC title since 1958 with a perfect 16-0 record. By season’s end, a 25-1 Arkansas squad broke into the Associated Press’ top 10 rankings for the first time in school history. The No. 6 Hogs earned their keep among the nation’s best by beating Texas A&M 63-62 in College Station.
Arkansas also returned to the NCAA Tournament in 1977 — the Hogs’ first postseason appearance since 1958. Wake Forest outlasted Arkansas in the opening round, 86-80. Despite the season’s abrupt climax, the Hogs had established a successful foundation around a star trio — nicknamed “The Triplets” — and a bevy of role players. The stage was set for 1978 to be a banner year.
The Triplets, sometimes called the called The Basketeers (a la The Three Musketeers) consisted of Marvin Delph, Sidney Moncrief and Ron Brewer, pictured above. The trio of Arkansas natives — all 6-4 — helped revamp Razorbacks basketball.
Moncrief was the team’s nucleus in 1978. He led the team in rebounding (7.7) and shooting (59%) while finishing second in scoring (17.3). Brewer was the team’s top scorer (18.0) and a phenomenal defender. Delph, meanwhile, was the team’s best shooter, third in scoring (16.8) and a solid rebounder (5.7). Steve Schall, Jim Counce — the team’s assist leader (3.3) — U.S. Reed, and Alan Zahn rounded out the rest of the Hogs’ primary contributors.
Arkansas opened the 1978 season on a tear, winning its first 14 games. Ranked No. 7 to start the season, the Hogs made school history when they broke into the Associated Press’ top five on Dec. 19, 1977. After falling on the road to Texas in January, Arkansas won its next 11 games. At 25-2 and dominating opponents, the Razorbacks’ stunning resurgence was the subject of a cover story in the Feb. 13, 1978 edition of Sports Illustrated. The national spotlight on Arkansas coincided with the Hogs first No. 1 ranking from the AP.
Slotted in the west region of the NCAA Tournament, the Razorbacks reached the Final Four by toppling Weber State, No. 2 UCLA and Cal State Fullerton. In the Final Four, Arkansas lost to eventual champion and No. 1 Kentucky. Ron Brewer made a buzzer-beater to down Notre Dame in the national third-place game.
UA renovated Barnhill Fieldhouse ahead of the 1977 season, when Arkansas splashed onto the national scene. The renovations transformed Barnhill from dusty hangar to intimate basketball arena with cramped seating for 9,000. It was Arkansas’ fortress of solitude during Sutton’s 11-year tenure on The Hill. Between 1974 and 1985, Arkansas won 94% of its games inside Barnhill, which lead the nation and bested college basketball meccas like Rupp Arena, Pauley Pavilion and Freedom Hall.
Sutton was resourceful in cultivating a hostile home atmosphere. An early iteration of “Barnhell” involved the “Mad Hatters and Overall Gang,” which the Fayetteville Flyer described as students and Razorback football players who wore “crazy hats and overalls” and sat “behind the opposing team and give them the business.” The Mad Hatters so enraged Texas A&M coach Shelby Metcalf that he “moved his team’s bench to the other side of the court to escape the antics of the crowd,” according to the Northwest Arkansas Times.
Jim Robken was the seminal off-court contribution to Arkansas basketball. Installed as band director in 1978, Robken, pictured above, turned Barnhill into his musical playground. As “The University of Arkansas Razorback Band: A History, 1874-2004” noted, “he renamed the (Pep Band) the ‘Hogwild Band’ and became a legend stirring up the fans in the fieldhouse to the strains of ‘The William Tell Overture’ and galloping around the building wearing a Lone Ranger mask.”
By 1979, basketball mania had infected all of Arkansas. But missing from the excitement were Marvin Delph and Ron Brewer. The pair had graduated, leaving Sidney Moncrief as the lone remaining member of The Triplets. Arkansas landed a solid freshman class to complement a talented nucleus that was hoping for another deep NCAA Tournament run.
Arkansas opened the 1979 season unranked. The Hogs won their first 10 games and broke into the AP Top 25 in late December. Despite a midseason slump, Arkansas rebounded to win its final 10 regular season games. In the SWC Tournament championship game, Arkansas outlasted rival Texas in a 39-38 thriller. Through it all, Moncrief was herculean. The senior led the team in minutes (38.6), scoring (22.0), rebounding (9.6), assists (2.7) and steals (1.5).
The Hogs were a No. 2 seed in the 1979 NCAA Tournament. They rolled passed Weber State and Louisville to set up a top-five showdown against Larry Bird and No. 1 Indiana State. The game was close early on and Arkansas held a two-point lead at the half. Bird, who had been scoring at will, was limited to just four points after Moncrief switched to him. In the waning minutes, Arkansas’ U.S. Reed was called for traveling — Hogs fans argue he was tripped — and Indiana State’s Bob Heaton hit a last-second shot to propel the Sycamores to the Final Four.
When Sidney Moncrief arrived as at the U of A from Little Rock’s Hall High School, the Hogs hadn’t been to the NCAA Tournament in nearly two decades. By the end of his senior season, Arkansas capped its most successful decade since the 1940s. Moncrief found personal success as well, being named consensus first-team All-American and SWC Player of the Year as a senior. Selected No. 5 overall in the NBA Draft, Moncrief anchored the Milwaukee Bucks through a decade of success in the 1980s.
A new decade brought a new era of basketball to Arkansas. With the Triplets gone, the Hogs’ success was built around Scott Hastings, a 6-10 center from Independence, Kan. Hastings was the Razorbacks’ first elite big man since Dean Tolson. Only a sophomore in 1980, Hastings earned All-SWC honors by leading the team in scoring and rebounding.
Paired with Hastings was U.S. Reed, a stellar all-around guard from Pine Bluff. In 1980, Reed led the team in minutes and steals, while finishing second in scoring. The duo guided Arkansas to a 21-8 record overall and a stellar 13-3 mark in the SWC. But the Hogs finished second in the conference to Texas A&M. The Aggies also edged the Hogs 52-50 in the conference tournament championship.
Arkansas received the SWC’s only at-large bid for the 1980 NCAA Tournament, but the Hogs bowed out in the first round to Kansas State. Still, the success of the 1980 campaign laid the groundwork for a promising decade and provided glimpses of the excitement on the horizon. On Feb. 9, Houston defeated Arkansas 90-84 in a triple-overtime thriller at Barnhill Arena. Still the longest game in school history, it sparked a thrilling rivalry between the Hogs and Cougars — the crown jewels of SWC basketball.
Hastings and Reed were joined the next year by star transfer Darrell Walker. Reloaded for 1981, No. 20 Arkansas opened the season in the Great Alaskan Shootout. Playing three top 15 teams in three days, Arkansas fell to No. 13 North Carolina in the championship game. But the tone had been set: Arkansas could win without the Triplets.
Arkansas opened its 1981 SWC schedule with a 92-50 whipping of SMU in Reunion Arena, a prelude to the Hogs’ dominance at the NBA facility. After a midseason slump, the Hogs reeled off 11 straight wins to secure the conference championship. Despite losing in the opening round of the SWC Tournament, the Hogs secured a No. 5 seed in the Midwest Region of the NCAA Tournament. In the second round against Louisville, U.S. Reed would write his name in the annals of Razorback history.
While the NCAA Tournament of the modern era has been defined by exciting, down-to-the-wire finishes, the 1981 tournament is widely regarded as a watershed moment for college basketball. Thanks to a bevy of nail-biting endings — three spectacular buzzer beaters in just one day — and several upsets, the 1981 tournament is the origin of March Madness.
Arkansas’ last-second win over Louisville in the 1981 tournament endures more than three decades later. Often listed among top 10 lists of classic NCAA Tournament endings, U.S. Reed’s half-court buzzer-beater sent the Hogs to their third Sweet 16 and knocked out the defending champions. Arkansas inbounded the ball under its own goal and Reed dribbled frantically to mid-court, hounded by two Cardinals defenders. Reed launched a 49-foot bomb with one tick left on the clock and the buzzer sounded while the ball sailed toward the rafters. After emphatically splashing through the hoop, a contingent of Razorbacks fans, players, coaches and cheerleaders swarmed the court.
Scott Hastings, Alvin Robertson and Darrell Walker, pictured above, guided the Hogs to another successful season in 1982. Arkansas claimed the SWC regular-season crown and won the conference tournament, but a one-point loss to Kansas State in the second round of the NCAA Tournament foreshadowed a string of early exits.
Taller and beefier than Scott Hastings, Joe Kleine, pictured above, sat out the 1982 season after transferring from Notre Dame. He had an impressive sophomore season, emerging as a third option to Robertson and Walker as Arkansas reached the Sweet 16 — the Hogs’ last deep tournament run until 1990. By the mid 1980s, Kleine was one of three dominant centers that epitomized SWC basketball. The other two were SMU’s Jon Koncak and Houston’s Akeem Olajuwon. All three were first-round NBA draft picks.
Arkansas basketball in the mid-1980s was defined by three things: a superb rivalry with Houston, marquee regular-season matchups and a dearth of postseason success. Between 1981 and 1984, Arkansas or Houston won either the SWC, the conference tournament or both. Twice in that span the Hogs and Cougars slugged it out in the conference tournament championship.
Between 1982 and 1986, Arkansas played a bevy of national powerhouses: Ohio State, Wake Forest, Kansas, Villanova, Oklahoma, Virginia, and defending national champion Georgetown. Each game was a milestone for the program, but none matched the spectacle of Feb. 12, 1984, when Arkansas met Michael Jordan and No. 1 North Carolina in Pine Bluff.
Arkansas “hosted” the top-ranked Tar Heels at its third home court: the Pine Bluff Convention Center. Like Barton Coliseum, the convention center served as another neutral site for the Hogs between 1978 and 1993. For UNC coach Dean Smith, he just was pleased the convention center wasn’t the vaunted Barn Hill Arena.
Delayed by bad weather, Arkansas didn’t arrive in Pine Bluff until two hours before tip off. The Hogs had been in Dallas a day earlier for a game against SMU. Urged to play loose and forget the national spotlight, Arkansas kept Michael Jordan and his 19-0 Tar Heels in check, taking a 38-34 lead at halftime.
Playing without a shot clock in those days, Arkansas forced North Carolina to play at a slower place. But the Tar Heels overcame a 10-point deficit in the second half and took a 64-63 lead after two consecutive baskets from Jordan. With nine seconds left, Alvin Robertson tried a jump shot but passed at the last second to Charles Balentine, who snagged the ball before it went out of bounds and flipped it into the hoop. North Carolina called a timeout but its last-second heave rimmed out and fans stormed the court.
While the 1984 season widely is remembered for Arkansas’ memorable upset of No. 1 North Carolina, two other moments stand out: the regular season finale against No. 2 Houston and Alvin Robertson recording the school’s first triple-double. The Cougars entered Barnhill having won 39 straight Southwest Conference games. Joe Klein had a terric game, forcing Houston’s star center, Akeem Olajuwon, to foul out as No. 12 Arkansas pulled the upset in a nationally televised game. The Cougars, however, avenged the loss a week later, edging Arkansas 57-56 in the SWC Tournament Championship.
During a trip to rival Texas. Alvin Robertson, pictured above, recorded the school’s first triple-double in a four-point win over the Longhorns. Robertson tallied 23 points, 10 assists and 11 rebounds. Later, in the NBA, Robertson became one of only four players — and the only non-center — to record a quadruple-double.
The Hogs struggled for most of the 1984-85 season, reaching their nadir in a 17-point loss to defending national champion Georgetown in which they scored just 39 points. After limping to a 10-6 conference record — Arkansas’ fewest victories since 1976 — a late season surge earned the Hogs an at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament. Arkansas beat Iowa in the first round before falling to Chris Mullin and No. 3 St. John’s.
Despite the accolades and goodwill Sutton accumulated during his 11 years in Fayetteville, rumors swirled for most of the 1985 season that he’d leave Arkansas. And on April 2, 1985, Sutton departed for the head coaching vacancy at Kentucky. Sutton tried to soften the news, telling the press Kentucky was “the only job I’d leave the University of Arkansas for.” But Sutton further incensed Hogs fans when he quipped he “would’ve crawled all the way to Lexington” for the job.
About a week after Sutton’s departure, Arkansas hired Nolan Richardson away from Tulsa. Richardson, 43, had a lofty resume, having won at the high school, junior college and collegiate level. Richardson’s hiring was also a watershed moment for the Southwest Conference, becoming the SWC’s first African-American head coach of a men’s team. Under Richardson’s guidance, Arkansas basketball would experience a second renaissance, but not before two tumultuous seasons.
Arkansas started 6-1 to open the 1985-86 season, upsetting No. 20 Ohio State in Pine Bluff. The program’s transition to a new coach with a new style seemed complete. But at the start of conference play in January, the team imploded.
The Hogs dropped their first five SWC contests, losing consecutive home games to Texas Tech and Houston by a total of four points. Arkansas salvaged a 4-7 conference record through its final 11 games, culminating in the program’s fewest SWC victories since 1971. Adding to the frustration of ’86, Arkansas dropped a mid-season game to Southern California, ending the Hogs’ 41-game home win streak against non-conference opponents.
Texas A&M put the final dagger in Arkansas’ miserable season, drubbing the Hogs in the opening round of the SWC Tournament. Eventually, Richardson’s Razorbacks would own the confernce tournament, but more growing pains and heartache lay ahead in 1987.
Arkansas again was off to a hot start for the 1986-87 season. The Hogs won their first four games, which included a convincing 17-point win over No. 6 Kansas. Toppling the Jayhawks earned Arkansas it’s first top 25 ranking under Nolan Richardson (No. 20), but the Hogs existed the polls about a week later.
A tough non-conference schedule — consisting of Kansas, Alabama, Virginia, Ohio State, Pittsburgh and California — prepared the Hogs for conference play. In 1987, Arkansas doubled its SWC victories from the previous year and finished 19-14 overall. The effort was good enough to earn the Hogs a bid to the NIT.
In the first round of the NIT, Arkansas hosted Arkansas State. It was the fourth meeting between the two programs, with the last match up dating back nearly four decades. As Arkansas Fight noted, “Speculation was rampant that a loss to the then-Indians — whom, along with other in-state schools, Frank Broyles refused to schedule regular season games against — would result in (Richardson) getting canned.”
Arkansas State opened up a big lead, stunning the Razorbacks faithful inside Barnhill Arena. At halftime, the Indians led the Hogs by nine. Despite falling behind by 21 in the second half, the Hogs mounted a frenzied comeback and survived, 67-64, in overtime. The success was fleeting, however, as Arkansas was defeated in the second round by Nebraska. To date, the 1987 showdown was the last time Arkansas played Arkansas State in any sport.
Like the two coaches before him, Nolan Richardson “made the leap” in his third year at Arkansas. Richardson, now coaching a handful of players he recruited, guided Arkansas back to the NCAA Tournament with a stellar 21-9 overall record in 1988. The Razorbacks went 11-5 in the Southwest Conference, finishing tied for second with Baylor.
Focusing less on low-post play than Eddie Sutton, Richardson’s Razorbacks played “Hawgball,” which one Arkansas newspaper described as a “pressing, uptempo style.” Richardson eventually perfected the system, which became the formidable “40 Minutes of Hell.”
Richardson’s Hogs returned to the NCAA Tournament in 1989, buoyed by stellar freshman triumvirate of Todd Day, Lee Mayberry, pictured above, and Oliver Miller. Richardson now had “triplets” of his own, who would cap Arkansas’ tenure in the SWC in dominating fashion. In their first season together, the trio helped secure Richardson’s first SWC championship.
Led by its super sophomores, Arkansas won 30 games, captured the SWC regular-season and conference tournament titles and returned to the Final Four for the first time in 12 years.
During the 1990-91 season, Arkansas challenged the nation’s preeminent team: No. 1 UNLV. The rebels were defending champions and riding a 30-game winning streak that spanned two seasons. The No. 2 Razorbacks, winners of 20 straight, couldn’t keep pace with the Rebels — a group Richardson dubbed “the NBA’s second-best team.” In the only No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup in school history, UNLV outlasted Arkansas 112-105.
Long before switching conferences was the norm, Arkansas announced it would leave the SWC for the Southeastern Conference after the 1991 season. The Hogs breezed through conference play in their final three years in the SWC, compiling a staggering 42-6 record. During that span the Razorbacks won three straight SWC regular-season and conference tournament championships. In the 1991 conference tournament, Arkansas bid farewell to rival Texas, as the Razorbacks obliterated the Longhorns, 120-89, in the championship game.
Arkansas made a seamless transition to the SEC. Loaded with talented upperclassmen, the Hogs rolled through conference play to capture the SEC regular-season title in their inaugural season. Other highlights from 1991-92 season included a 105-88 shellacking of No. 8 Kentucky at Rupp Arena and sweeping the season series against Shaquille O’Neal and LSU.
Richardson’s “triplets” were unable to replicate the success of their Final Four run in 1990. After toppling SEC competition, the No. 9 Hogs were upset by Memphis State in the second round of the 1992 NCAA Tournament. The Tigers, led but future NBA All-Star Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway, matched up well with the Razorbacks. Little more than a month earlier, Memphis State had upset No. 5 Arkansas, 92-88, at The Pyramid.
In addition to the team’s success, Richardon’s “triplets” shined individually as well. All three were drafted in the first round of the 1992 NBA Draft and set numerous school records. Miller is still the school’s all-time blocked shots leader with 345. Day, meanwhile, is Arkansas’ all-time leading scorer, having netted 2,395 points.
Arkansas suffered a slight set back with the departure of Mayberry, Miller, and Day. But fans were soon satiated with the arrival of Corliss Williamson. The 6’7 power forward from Russellville was a force to be reckoned with. As a freshman, Williamson led the team in rebounding and was second in scoring. Nicknamed “Big Nasty,” Williamson was named to the All-SEC Freshman Team for his efforts.
The Hogs’ leading scorer that year was Scotty Thurman, a forward from Ruston, Louisiana — a small city about 40 miles south of the Arkansas border. Paired with super sophomores Clint McDaniel and Corey Beck, the Hogs reached the Sweet 16 of the 1993 NCAA Tournament, falling just short to eventual champion North Carolina.
Despite coming up short in the national title race, the most heartbreaking moment of the season was saying goodbye to Barnhill Arena. On March 3, 1993, Arkansas walloped LSU 88-75 to cap a career total of 304 wins against 94 losses in Barnhill.
The 1993-94 season unveiled a new home for the Hogs — their first since moving to Barnhill Arena in the 1950s. Bud Walton Arena was built south of Barnhill and Razorback Stadium, but still on campus. BWA was everything Barnhill wasn’t: luxurious, spacious and ritzy. It has since been christened the Basketball Palace of Mid-America. Before leaving Barnhill, former Hogwild band director Jim Robken helped capture the “Spirit of Barnhill” in a crystal bowl that was late placed in the lobby of Bud Walton Arena.
Arkansas formally dedicated Bud Walton Arena on Dec. 2, 1993, against Missouri. The game was a rout. The Razorbacks thoroughly thrashed the Tigers, winning 120-68 in a game televised nationally by ESPN. Arkansas would roll to a 16-0 home record on the season.
Arkansas cruised for much of the 1993-94 sesaon. The Hogs spent more than a dozen games ranked No. 1, and by late February, were a superb 22-2 with wins over No. 4 Kentucky and No. 20 Florida. The Hogs’ lone slip up was in the SEC Tournament, where they fell to Kentucky in the semifinals. It would be their last loss of the year.
Arkansas’ run to the Final Four began with a dominating win over North Carolina A&T. The Hogs overcame a feisty Georgetown squad in the second round, then obliterated Tulsa in the Sweet 16 to set up a marquee showdown against the Michigan Wolverines, who were coming off back-to-back national title game appearances.
Michigan wasn’t the Fab Five in 1994 — having lost Chris Webber to NBA — but the Wolverines still boasted All-Americans Jalen Rose and Juwan Howard. Arkansas used a team effort to overcome a 30-point outburst from Howard to advance to the Final Four.
Against the Arizona Wildcats, Williams reemerged with a game-high 29 points and 13 rebounds. Meanwhile, Arkansas’ smothering defense held Damon Stoudamire to 16 points on 5 of 24 shooting. Clint McDaniel added 12 points and five rebounds off the bench for the Hogs as Arkansas reached its first national title game.
In the national title game, Arkansas faced Duke University, the darling of college basketball. The Blue Devils had been in four of the last five title games, winning it all in 1991 and 1992. Ahead of the 1994 championship, Richardson told Charlie Rose what he’d said to his team: “When they started the NCAA Tournament, there were 64 basketball teams … out of those 64 teams, 63 can beat us. But the thing that I’m impressed with, that you can beat the 63.”
Playing in the unfriendly confines of Charlotte Coliseum — just two hours from Duke’s campus — the game was a tight-knit affair. But momentum swayed in the Hogs’ favor in the final minute, when Thurman swished a high-arching three-pointer as the shot clock wound down to put Arkansas up by three. Stifling defense and two Clint McDaniel free throws during the final seconds helped Arkansas secure a 76-72 victory and the national championship.
While Hogs fans the state over — including President Bill Clinton — were overjoyed that Arkansas had reached the pinnacle of college basketball, Richardson found vindication that went beyond the hardwood. The first black head coach to win a national title since Georgetown’s John Thompson in 1984, Richardson told the press, “hopefully this will do something for the people who come behind me and want to be coaches.”
Arkansas returned essentially the same team for the 1994-95 season. A preseason favorite to repeat as national champions, the Hogs opened the year ranked No. 1. But the Razorbacks’ title defense got off to a rocky start. Facing No. 3 Massachusetts at a neutral site in Springfield, Mass., the Hogs were obliterated 104-80 in a nationally televised game.
Two days later, the Hogs rebounded with a convincing win against Allen Iverson and No. 14 Georgetown. The Razorbacks regrouped from there, and put together a ho-hum campaign of 25-5 that included a last-minute victory over No. 5 Kentucky on Super Bowl Sunday. The Wildcats later avenged the loss in the SEC Tournament Championship.
Arkansas received a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament, and subsequently was sent to Austin, Texas, for the opening round of the Midwest Regional. There the Razorbacks faced Texas Southern, a team they had decimated 129-63 a year prior. But the Tigers were ready in the rematch and used a 43-point second half to nearly pull off one of the biggest upsets in tournament history. The Hogs survived, 79-78, setting up what would be an exciting and grueling tournament for Arkansas fans.
Arkansas needed overtime against Syracuse and Memphis to reach the Elite 8. In the second round against Syracuse, the Hogs turned the ball over with under five seconds to play, but the Orange bailed out the Razorbacks by calling a timeout they didn’t have. Thurman hit one of two free throws to send the game into overtime, where the Hogs eventually won 96-94.
Arkansas edged Virginia in the Elite 8, exacting some revenge over a loss to Cavaliers in the 1984 NCAA Tournament. In the Final Four, the Razorbacks downed a resurgent North Carolina team, as Williamson outplayed future NBA All-Stars Jerry Stackhouse and Rasheed Wallace.
The Razorbacks’ exhilarating run back to the national championship ended in heartbreak, however, as UCLA topped Arkansas 89-78 thanks to a stellar performance from the Bruins’ Ed O’Bannon, who had game highs of 30 points and 17 rebounds.
UCLA used just seven players in the championship game — compared to 12 for Arkansas — but overwhelmed the Hogs at both ends of the court. UCLA outshot the Hogs, forced 18 turnovers and won the rebounding battle 50-31. Williamson and Thurman had their worst games of the tournament, combing for 5 of 25 from the field for 17 points.
The end of the 1995 tournament signaled the end of an era at Arkansas, as Thurman and Williamson declared for the NBA Draft. Arkansas remained competitive through the rest of the decade, but failed to reach another Final Four.
Arkansas lost roughly 40 percent of its offense with the departures of Williamson and Thurman following the 1994-95 season. The Hogs also lost Dwight Stewart, Clint McDaniel and Corey Beck to graduation. But with the help of a few former role players now inserted into the starting lineup, an influx of junior college transfers and the addition of two talented freshmen — Kareem Reid and Pat Bradley — Arkansas returned to the NCAA Tournament in 1996.
The Hogs finished the 1996 regular season with an 18-12 record, which included a 9-7 mark in SEC play. It was the first time a Richardson team had failed to win at least 10 SEC games in a season. The Hogs received an at-large bid to the tournament and were seeded No. 12. In the first round, Arkansas upset No. 5 seed Penn State — in Providence, R.I., no less — before rolling fourth-seeded Marquette.
It was in the Sweet 16 where Arkansas ran into an old foe: Marcus Camby. The previous year, Camby helped Massachusetts obliterate the Hogs in the season opener. Now Camby was Player of the Year and anchoring the region’s top seed. Arkansas floundered in the opening minutes — missing four layups — while UMass bolted to a 13-0 lead. In the end, the Hogs fell by 16 as UMass went on to its first Final Four.
Despite the early season hype, Arkansas in 1997 regressed for the first time under Richardson. The Hogs stumbled through the regular season, finishing 15-12 (8-8 SEC). The Razorbacks were invited to the NIT — their first appearance since 1987 — and advanced to the Final Four before losing to eventual champion Michigan. Still, the 18 wins were the fewest during Richardson’s tenure since 1986, when he arrived in Fayetteville.
Any anxiety fans had for the 1998 campaign was put to rest early. Arkansas opened the season with 10 straight wins, which included victories over No. 12 Fresno State and Louisville. By December the Hogs were ranked in the top 25, where they would stay for the remainder of the season, reaching as high as No. 12. Arkansas returned to the NCAA Tournament, but fell in the second round to eventual national runner-up Utah.
Arkansas had an up-and-down campaign in 1999, but earned a No. 4 seed in the tournament. Iowa eliminated Arkansas in the second round, ending the stellar career of Pat Bradley, who finished as the school’s fifth all-time leading scorer with 1,765 points.
In 2000, Arkansas posted its first losing conference record since Richard’s first season. The Hogs rebounded to their first SEC Tournament, dispatching Georgia, Kentucky, LSU and Auburn to secure a berth in the NCAA Tournament.
Arkansas returned to the NCAA Tournament in 2001, but fell to Georgetown in the first round. The game ended on a controversial call from officials, who ruled the Hoyas beat the buzzer on a last-second layup. The disappointment in the postseason precipitated a frustrating campaign in 2002 that culminated in the firing of head coach Nolan Richardson.
The Hogs went 14-15 in 2002, missing the postseason for the first time since Nolan Richardson inaugural season as head coach in 1985-86. The university bought his contract out after a controversial remark following a loss to Kentucky. Richardson then sued UA for racial discrimination, but the case was later dismissed. It would be several years before Richardson and the UA would make amends.
Stan Heath arrived from Kent State ahead of the 2002-03 season. Heath brought with him high expectations, since he had guided the Golden Flashes to their first Elite 8 the year before. Heath’s Arkansas teams improved steadily during his first three seasons on the Hill, but he didn’t reach the postseason until year four.
Heath’s tenure is probably best remembered for the popular players he coached. They included Ronnie Brewer, Jr., (pictured above), Jonathan Modica, Steven Hill, Sonny Weems, Patrick Beverly and Charles Thomas.
The Hogs made back-to-back tournament appearances in Heath’s final two seasons. Both were first-round exits: a frustrating, four-point loss to Bucknell in 2006, followed by a 17-point trouncing to USC in 2007.
John Pelphrey, a former two-time captain at Kentucky, took over as head coach after Stan Heath was fired. Probably best remembered for his sideline snarls, Pelphrey inherited a team loaded with talented seniors.
The 2007-08 Hogs needed to win in the SEC Tournament to boost their resume for an invite to the Big Dance. They excelled, first knocking off No. 18 Vanderbilt before edging No. 4 Tennessee on a fade-away jumper from center Steven Hill. A surging Georgia team knocked off Arkansas in the championship game.
Thanks to its dramatic run in the SEC Tournament, Arkansas earned a No. 9 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Razorbacks took down Indiana and future NBA lottery pick Eric Gordon to snag their first Big Dance victory since 1999. In a prelude of future tournament heartache, though, North Carolina slaughtered the Hogs in the second round.
Arkansas opened the 2008-09 season on a tear, toppling No. 4 Oklahoma and future No. 1 overall pick Blake Griffin. Mike Washington (00) matched Griffin’s star-power, tallying 24 points and 11 rebounds while Courtney Fortson fell two rebounds shy of recording a triple double.
After a tune-up game against North Texas, Arkansas rekindled its long-dormant rivalry with Texas. The Hogs knocked off the No. 7 Longhorns for their second victory over a top 10 team in a week’s time.
Arkansas was riding high ahead of conference play. The Hogs were 12-1 with impressive home wins over ranked Oklahoma and Texas teams. But whatever mojo John Pelphrey had engendered in his second year was about to vanish, as Arkansas imploded in SEC play.
The impending collapse was apparent from the outset of SEC play. The Hogs first fell at home to Mississippi State en route to a four game losing skid. Arkansas beat Alabama at home in late January, but then dropped eight straight. The Hogs salvaged a home win against Georgia for the 1994 team reunion.
Kentucky highlighted a win-less February, when Jodie Meeks and the Wildcats blasted the Hogs out of their own building. Meeks dropped 45 points — the Bud Walton Arena opponent scoring record — on a spectacular 17-of-24 shooting display.
The 2008-09 Razorbacks finished 2-14 in SEC play, their worst ever showing in the conference and the second fewest victories in conference play since the 1971 squad went 1-13 in the SWC.
Pelphrey had recruited some talented freshman like Marshawn Powell, Glenn Bryant and Julysses Nobles, but the 2009-10 season went downhill almost immediately. Arkansas dropped several games to mid-majors, including a 97-94 loss to Morgan State that ended the Razorbacks’ 45-game non-conference home win streak.
Arkansas closed out the decade with a historic performance from Rotnei Clarke, who scored a school record 51 points against Alcorn State. Clarke made 13-of-17 3-pointers to eclipse the previous record of 47 set by All-SWC guard Martin terry in 1973.
Although the rough start seemed to predict a repeat of last year’s disastrous SEC play, Arkansas actually managed a 6-3 SEC record by mid February. But a swoon seemed inevitable, and the Hogs went 1-6 to close out the season.
Pelphrey guided Arkansas to 18 wins in 2010-11, the most since his first season, but another disappointing 7-9 finish in SEC play got him the boot.
After successful stints at UAB and Missouri — including a run to the the Elite 8 with the Tigers — favorite son Mike Anderson returned to coach Arkansas in 2012. Anderson, who spent 17 years as Nolan Richardson’s assistant, was greeted warmly upon his return to NWA.
Mike Anderson, pictured when he played for the Tulsa Hurricanes and Nolan Richardson in the early 1980s, was a long-time assistant that fans felt understood Razorback pride.
The 2011-12 seaosn was pretty much a preordained wash, but Arkansas eked out a respectable 18 wins — including 6 in conference play. Still, there were some growing pains, like a 30-point loss at home to No. 14 Florida. It stands as the Razorbacks’ most lopsided defeat in Bud Walton Arena.
Arkansas’ fortunes improved immediately with the arrival of Bobby Portis. The Little Rock phenom was flanked by talented players like Michael Qualls, Alandise Harris and Rashad Madden. Against Alabama, Portis set a school record for scoring by a freshman, dropping 35 points on the Tide while shooting 14 of 17 from the floor.
Michael Qualls capped the high point of the season, and maybe the decade, when he slammed a Rashad Madden miss at the buzzer to upset No. 13 Kenutcky in overtime at Bud Walton Arena.
Arkansas won 22 games in 2014, going 10-8 in the SEC, and was invited to the NIT. The postseason berth ended a five year drought — the longest since Eddie Sutton took over the program in 1975. The Razorbacks beat Indiana State at home before losing in the second round to California.
Anchored by Michael Qualls and Bobby Portis, Arkansas experienced a renaissance in 2014-15. The Hogs won 27 games — the most since the 1995 campaign — bounced around the Top 25 for most of the season, and finished second in the SEC.
Arkansas toppled Tennessee and Georgia in the SEC Tournament to reach the championship game after a seven year absence. Unfortunately, the Hogs were facing No. 1 Kentucky. Undefeated and laden with future NBA talent, the Wildcats trounced the Razorbacks.
Arkansas earned a No. 5 seed in the West Region of the 2015 NCAA Tournament. The Hogs held on against Wofford to avoid the dreaded 12-5 upset, but were dispatched in the second round by North Carolina despite impressive double-doubles from Michael Qualls and Bobby Portis.
The 2015-16 season was essentially a lost year with the departure of Michael Qualls and Bobby Portis. The Hogs finished 16-16 overall and went 9-9 in the SEC.
Arkansas biggest highlight of the season was an upset against No. 5 Texas A&M in January. It was the Aggies’ first SEC loss and halted their 10-game win streak.
Daryl Macon, a Little Rock native and Parkview gradaute, transferred to Arkansas for the 2016-17 season. Surrounded by homegrown talent, Arkansas returned to form, winning 23 games and reaching the SEC Tournament Championship game before losing (again) to Kentucky.
Arkansas used a late season surge to secure a winning SEC record. The Hogs were 5-7 in SEC play before going on a five-game tear that included road wins over LSU, Auburn and No. 21 South Carolina.
Facing North Carolina for the second time in three years (and sixth time overall in NCAA Tournament play) Arkansas fell victim to some questionable officiating late in the second half. North Carolina held on for the win, then went on to win the national championship
Despite a lineup dotted with seniors, Arkansas struggled early in 2018 in SEC play. Arkansas was stymied in a three-point road loss to Mississippi State in which the Bulldogs out shot the Hogs 40-12 at the free throw line.
Daniel Gafford, a 6-10 high-flying center from El Dorado, made it worth turning in for every game. The freshman phenom wowed fans and national audiences with his spectacular dunks.
Another late-season surge in SEC play — aided by a solid showing in the conference tournament — helped Arkansas earn an at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament. But the trip to the Big Dance was short-lived, as Butler thumped the Hogs in the first round.
On paper, Arkansas seemed capable of making the Big Dance when Daniel Gafford returned for his sophomore year. The Hogs had two talented guards in Isaiah Joe and Mason Jones, and battled to a 5-4 SEC record by early February.
Whatever mojo Arkansas had going evaporated with a trip to South Carolina. The Hogs fell there, then reeled off five more losses as the window closed for an at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament.
Despite the season all but lost, Arkansas unloaded on lowly Vanderbilt. The Hogs walloped the Commodores 84-48 in Nashville. The 36-point shellacking is the largest margin of victory for Arkansas in an SEC game.
A road win against Providence in the opening round of the NIT couldn’t salvage Mike Anderson’s job. He was fired three days after the Hogs lost to Indiana in the next round. Under Anderson, the Hogs had fleeting returns to glory — including a 27-win season in 2015 — but fans were deflated after eight seasons with only three trips to the NCAA Tournament.
Arkansas made a splash hire in April, luring Eric Mussleman away from Nevada. Mussleman, who also had NBA experience as an assistant coach, revived Nevada’s basketball program almost immediately. The Wolf Pack were coming off of three straight NCAA Tournament appearances when he departed.
Arkansas made its fabled return to Barnhill Arena with the annual Red-White game. Billed as “The Night the Lights Came On in Barnhill” — a callback to the arena’s final game in 1993 — the scrimmage was a friendly battle between “Team Nolan” and “Team Eddie.” Both former coaches also returned to the venerable arena to mark the occasion.
Nolan Richardson was honored before the 2020 season when the court inside Bud Walton Arena was renamed in his honor. His signature graces the hardwood and is accompanied by the famed slobbering hog — en emblem fans had been mourning since its removal from center-court in 2010.
The Hogs marked another milestone on the same night they honored Coach Richardson: hosting UALR for an exhibition game. It was the first meeting between the two in-state schools.
Mason Jones, pictured above, emerged as the team’s star, tallying two 40 point games and leading the SEC in scoring. Jones finished his remarkable junior year by being named conference co-Player of the Year.
The Hogs had a decent start to SEC play, but faltered late in the season. A five-game losing streak in February — which included two home losses by a total of four points — essentially secured a trip to the NIT.
Toppling Vanderbilt in the opening round of the SEC Tournament gave Arkansas had a decent shot at bid from the NIT, but the covid-19 pandemic abruptly ended postseason play for college and professional basketball. As of this publication, it’s unclear if or when college basketball will resume.