McCurdy Does A Lot In A Short Time

DALLAS -- Sean McCurdy is getting good at this final-seconds-of-the-first-half stuff.

Against Rice last Saturday, McCurdy entered the game for the first time with 25 seconds left before intermission and made a steal that preserved Arkansas' 30-28 lead (even though he did poke teammate Charles Thomas in the eye in the process).

Then on Wednesday night against Texas Tech, Hogs coach Stan Heath inserted McCurdy with 15.5 ticks left in the half.

"Eric  Ferguson had picked up his second foul (with 6:01 left in the first half)," explained Hogs coach Stan Heath. "I didn't want him to get his third foul, and besides that, Sean has done a terrific job in those situations."

All McCurdy did this time was rebound Red Raiders forward Terry Martin's miss in the final seconds, break out of the pack to his left and launch a 57-foot shot that banked in for a 39-36 Arkansas lead.

Officially, it was a 54-footer, but TV replays suggested McCurdy was 10 feet short of midcourt.

Even though McCurdy twisted himself like a pretzel, his shot looked promising all the way.

"It looked good from where I stood," Heath said. "I thought it had a chance. That 3-point shot gave us the momentum and put a smile on our face, because we had lost our lead."

Texas Tech coach Bob Knight asked officials to check the TV monitor to see if McCurdy's shot had beaten the buzzer. It clearly had, by about eight tenths of a second.

In the media room at halftime, Tech athletic director Gerald Myers was ashen-faced. As a longtime Tech coach himself, Myers knew the effect such a shot could have on both teams.

Hogs guard Ronnie Brewer said, "I mean, I think that shot gave us the momentum."

While Brewer scored just 12 points in the game, he viewed it as a positive that Arkansas still won 78-65.

"We just need to screen a little better," Brewer said. "But it shows how versatile our team is. Last year if I didn't get it going offensively, guys kinda put their heads down. Tonight, other guys stepped up, like (Jonathon) Modica, Dontell Jefferson and Eric Ferguson."

Heath said he was surprised Arkansas did so well without any of its big men inside scoring more than eight points.

"I thought our advantage would be getting the ball inside," Heath said. "Darian Townes scored eight points, but I thought he would get about 14. Charles Thomas had eight points, too. Other guys stepped up in a lot of ways, and Ronnie was very effective just by his presence."

The thing Heath was most proud of was Arkansas' defense.

"We mixed some zone, some man-to-man and some presses, and I thought every defense we created some offense for us," Heath said. "It was a great defensive effort by our team. I thought our guys were very mature and very focused."

It added up to Arkansas' 19th consecutive win in Dallas.

Heath saluted the Razorbacks' fans, saying, "I was just shocked by how many Hog fans came out to support us. Our kids responded very well."

With a comparable number of UA and Tech fans in a crowd of 14,280 in the American Airlines Center, there was plenty of energy in the building.

Knight received a standing ovation from Tech fans just for walking onto the court a few minutes before tipoff.

His passion for the game is still palpable.

Wearing a red shirt, gray pants (with no belt) and a black sweater that he is still able to fold while wearing it, Knight teaches basketball in an unhurried but definitive manner.

As each Arkansas starter was introduced, Knight glanced onto the court, then made sure each Red Raider had his assigned man.

When the tipoff was delayed a few minutes by the end of the Missouri-Illinois game on ESPN2, Knight calmly called his players back over to the bench for some final instructions.

Though the Red Raiders had too many turnovers (21) this night, they never lost their discipline down the stretch even as the outcome became inevitable.

Someday, Heath can tell his grandchildren that his team beat a team coached by a man who had 860 wins going into the game.

And McCurdy can tell anyone who wants to listen that if you only get 15.5 seconds of playing time in a game, you'd better maximize every second of it.

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