On ESPN Classic the other night I was watching the matchup between LSU and Arkansas in January of 1994. The good guys and future NCs were fortunate to squeak out a win against a team that would finish 11-16 (5-11). This game was in front of a packed, raucous BWA crowd and coming off a weekend loss at Bama, no less.
Quite frankly Arkansas did not look like a team that would roll to a NC in two months. It’s easy to remember every pass as a work of art and every jumper a foregone conclusion from that season. In this one Arkansas was really sloppy for most of the game, and they couldn’t seem to find a frosh Ronnie Henderson on D as he torched them at will. The Hogs repeatedly made some silly passes and clanked some pressure FTs down the stretch that probably should have cost them the game.
There were some extenuating circumstances. Robinson didn’t play, and McDaniel was limited due to knee soreness. Still, they were playing a team not in their weight class. To be certain, there were flashes of greatness. Corliss obviously couldn’t be single-covered in the post, and his passing out of double teams was impressive. Beck did yeoman work inside at both ends for a PG. On one break the ball never hit the floor, ending with an and-one slam by Crawford. Scotty answered daggers with daggers in crunch time.
But NCs in March? Nobody could be criticized for having had doubts after watching that performance. Something to remember next January when we inevitably throw out a stinker in SEC play. January ain’t February, and basketball is a funny game. It doesn’t take much to bring the mighty down to the level of the also-ran (or the also-ran up to the level of the mighty) on a given night. So, if in the future you’re wondering how we could lose to…You might want to check that impulse before jumping off the bandwagon.
This is a good post. I re-watched the National Championship game a couple of years ago and was surprised at all the mistakes we made in that game. We missed some critical free throws down the stretch, but since we won, those are forgotten. I think your point is great… even the best players and teams make lots of mistakes and have some bad games throughout a season.
It was Henderson. He poured in 25 off the bench. He did become All-SEC as a junior and then left early, never to be heard from again as far as I know.
Arkansas sputtered all January. A week after the LSU game they lost at MSU and then won by one at UT, who was even worse than LSU that year. Then a light came on. They had a glorious win at Rupp on Feb. 9, after which they were dominant except for a stumble against UK in the SECT.