Steven Hill A Chip Off The Old Block

FAYETTEVILLE -- Troy Hill, the 6-foot-8 father of 7-foot Arkansas center Steven Hill, attended the Razorbacks' basketball practice on Tuesday.

A certified public accountant in Branson, Mo., Troy Hill was in town on business but got to see much of Arkansas' nearly three-hour workout.

Having played center for Oral Roberts University and Pittsburg (Kan.) State in the early 1980s, Mr. Hill took off his coat after practice, walked onto the court and joked, "Here's my Big Man Tip of the Day."

Playing along, Hogs coach Stan Heath called out, "Get the video cameras!"

But Troy Hill said he was never a starter in two-and-a-half seasons under former ORU coach Ken Hayes.

"At best, I would have been a decent sixth man in Division I," Hill said. "I finished out at Pittsburg State."

ORU did make the National Invitation Tournament one year while Hill was there, losing to Oklahoma in the first round.

"We didn't play against Arkansas," he said.

Troy Hill said Steven played basketball from the second grade on up through AAU and was always tall for his age.

"He kinda blossomed through the years, and started getting the colleges' attention by the seventh or eighth grade," Mr. Hill said. "He took it in stride."

Early in Steven Hill's freshman year at Arkansas last year, his mother, Penny, died.

"I think it was difficult for him, going away to college, and then his mom's passing compounded things," Troy Hill said. "As the new kid on the block, he didn't make a lot of noise. This year I think you're seeing more of who he is. He has a quick, dry wit."

That was evident in the three-way banter among Troy Hill, Steven Hill and UA assistant coach Dan Hipsher about the length of Steven's hair.

"He's usually at one extreme or the other," Troy Hill said. "I'm not sure what he has now would be classified as a style (of hair)."

Hipsher thanked Troy Hill for his visit, and suggested that might result in a haircut.

Steven grinned, but gave no indication of getting his locks shorn.

At Branson, Steven averaged 20 points per game his senior year. At Arkansas he's been known mostly for his defense.

"In high school you've got to score," Troy said. "For Arkansas to succeed, you need to have balanced scoring and he's part of that."

Thomas Tweaks Ankle
Charles Thomas, Arkansas' 6-8 sophomore forward, hobbled a bit toward the end of Tuesday's practice, according to Heath.

"He just tweaked his ankle," said UA trainer Dave England. "He'll be OK."

Meanwhile, Darian Townes, a 6-10 sophomore forward, is playing through the pain of a sore left knee.

"I guess I could start Vincent Hunter (against Missouri State on Thursday night)," Heath said. "But I don't know if I'm ready to do that. It will probably come down to the best matchup for us. Thomas is better on defense and Townes is better on offense."

Marathon Workout
Heath had planned to work his team about two hours on Tuesday, but he added nearly another hour as the practice unfolded.

"I got a little (mad) at them," Heath explained.

Series Record
Arkansas leads Missouri State (formerly Southwest Missouri State) 14-5 in the series, including 11 wins in the last 12 matchups. But the two teams have not played since 1987, when Arkansas won 53-47 in Barnhill Arena.

On Dec. 22, 1986, the Bears defeated Arkansas 56-49 at Springfield, Mo., under former coach Charlie Spoonhour. The noise level in the Hammons Center that night perhaps outdid even the legendary noise levels in Barnhill Arena.

Another storied game in the series came on Dec. 1, 1976 at Springfield. The Razorbacks had to play the final seconds twice and still won 72-71, thanks to a Jim Counce free throw.

Eddie Sutton, the UA coach then, agreed to pull his players out of the dressing room and play the final seconds again, after referees had started play before allowing a Bear to check in after another Bear's fifth foul.

"I thought we were going to have another Munich," Sutton said, referring to the United States team's controversial 52-51 loss to Russia in the 1972 Olympics.

When the Hogs returned to Fayetteville that night in 1976, they learned that Frank Broyles would resign as Arkansas' football coach the next day.

Arkansas went 26-2 in basketball that season.

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