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Hogs in the Final Four

BY ANDRES FOCIL
Hogs in the Final Four

Hogs in the Final Four

Dwight Stewart averaged 13.5 points and 6.5 rebounds in the 1995 Final Four against North Carolina and UCLA.
Darnell Robinson had 12 points and three blocked shots in the 1994 Final Four semifinal victory over Arizona.

During Arkansas’ long, illustrious basketball history, the Razorbacks have been to the NCAA Final Four six times.

The Hogs have earned 29 bids to the NCAA Tournament and made 28 appearances, missing the 1944 event due to a car accident prior to the first-round games.

Only eight schools in the entire country have been to the Final Four more than Arkansas, and only eight schools have earned more than UA’s 29 NCAA Tournament bids. Among Southeastern Conference schools, only Kentucky has been to the NCAA Tournament more often. In fact, Arkansas, Kentucky, LSU, Georgia, Mississippi State and Florida are the only other league schools to reach the Final Four. It was tougher to get in the tournament in the early days, but it also took fewer games to win the title.

In the 1940s, only eight teams participated in the NCAA Tournament, which first became an event in 1939. Up to that point, the NIT was the top national post-season tournament. Twice in the ‘40s, the Razorbacks advanced to the Final Four.

The 1941 Hogs roared through the Southwest Conference with a 12-0 mark and carried a 19-2 record into the tournament. Arkansas downed Wyoming, 65-40, to reach the Final Four at Kansas City. Washington State handed the Razorbacks a 64-53 setback, meaning Arkansas and Pittsburgh tied for third since there was no third-place game.

UA returned in 1945, again to Kansas City. Arkansas was 16-8 entering the tournament but edged Oregon, 79-76, to reach the Final Four. Eventual national champion Oklahoma State, which Arkansas had defeated once earlier in the season, downed the Hogs and UA tied Ohio State for third place.

It took 33 years for Arkansas to return. In 1978, the Hogs were Southwest Conference champs and beat Weber State, second-ranked UCLA and California-Fullerton to advance to the Final Four at St. Louis. Top-ranked Kentucky led by just one with two minutes to play and posted a 64-59 victory.

There was a third-place game and Ron Brewer hit a buzzer shot from the top of the circle to send the Razorbacks past Notre Dame, 71-69. Brewer had 20 points and Marvin Delph 21 in their final game as Razorbacks.

Nolan Richardson guided the Hogs to the Final Four in 1990, 1994 and ’95.

Lenzie Howell, who averaged 13.9 points a game for the year and was the NCAA Tournament Midwest Regional MVP, helped UA knock off Princeton, Dayton, North Carolina and Texas to reach the 1990 Final Four.

In 1990, wins over Princeton, Dayton, North Carolina and Texas earned Arkansas a trip to Denver. UA was 30-4 heading into a semifinal showdown with Duke.

Richardson took his club to Denver a day early to adjust to the altitude, but the Hogs fell behind early in both halves and used plenty of adrenaline to catch up. UA led 69-62 with 10:38 remaining, but ran out of gas. Duke came back and won, 97-83, but also used most of its energy. The Blue Devils were beaten by Nevada-Las Vegas in the title game while UA tied Georgia Tech for third.

The ultimate came in 1994. The Hogs downed North Carolina A&T, Georgetown, Tulsa and Michigan to advance to the Final Four at Charlotte, N.C. The win over Arizona was Arkansas’ first ever in the national semifinals and set up a clash with Duke.

With the score tied with less than a minute to play, a well-defended Scotty Thurman hit a three-pointer to lead the Razorbacks to a 76-72 victory and the national title.

With every starter from the championship squad returning, the Hogs were favored to return to the Final Four in 1995, and they did. Texas Southern, Syracuse, Memphis and Virginia were knocked off along the way to the Final Four at Seattle, but none of the wins came by more than six points.

Arkansas fell behind early but rallied to get by North Carolina in the semifinals. Playing in the NCAA championship game for the second straight year, Arkansas came up short in an 89-78 loss to UCLA.

Arkansas in the Final Four

1941 tied for third
1945 tied for third
1978 third
1990 tied for third
1994 national champion
1995 runner-up


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