For the first time since the two former longtime Southwest Conference rivals went their separate ways following the 1990-91 season, Arkansas and Texas met on the hardwood in the first year of a four-year home-and-home series. Next year the game will move to Bud Walton Arena.
Although only about two-thirds of the student sections at each end were occupied, Wednesday's crowd of 11,936 was far above the turnstile average of 5,442 for Texas' first five home games against five inferior mostly in-state schools.
In a report in the Austin American Statesman on Wednesday, Texas coach Rick Barnes said he was trying to schedule two "marquee" nonconference games each year at home. This year Arkansas is really the only team that qualifies and next year the Longhorns may not have any since they have to travel to Fayetteville.
The last time Arkansas and Texas met was the finals of the 1991 SWC Tournament in Reunion Arena in Dallas. Dubbed Barnhill South by Arkansas fans because of the large Razorback following to Dallas each year, Arkansas dominated the Longhorns over the final years of the series, capped by a 120-89 blowout victory before the Hogs left for the Southeastern Conference the next season.
Judging by the attendance at Wednesday's meeting, this renewal should be a boon for both programs.
"I hope this turns out to be all we want it to be, with lots of fan interest," Texas coach Rick Barnes said in the Statesman.
McCurdy Gets Start
Arkansas sophomore guard Sean McCurdy got his second start of the season against Texas in place of transfer Gary Ervin, again following an Arkansas loss. McCurdy's other start came against Missouri-Kansas City following Arkansas' first loss of the season two days earlier on the road at Missouri. McCurdy played six minutes in the first half and had two turnovers. Ervin came off the bench and finished with eight points and five assists and had a chance to tie the score with five seconds left after driving the lane and drawing a foul, but missed both free throw attempts as Texas held on for the 80-76 victory.
No Seniors Allowed
Of the 26 players listed on the combined rosters of both teams, there was only one senior. Texas' Craig Winder, a seldom-used guard, was the only upperclassman. The starting fives for both teams featured five true freshmen. Texas started four freshmen and a sophomore, while Arkansas true freshman Patrick Beverley started his 11th straight game for the Razorbacks.
Beverley Plays Bigv
Beverley continues to impress. The Windy City Wonder kept the Razorbacks in the game in the first half by finding seams and cracks in the Texas defense to almost get a double-double in the opening 20 minutes. Beverley went into the halftime locker room with 10 points and a team-leading eight rebounds. Beverley finished the night with 19 points and seven assists to go along with the eight rebounds, but was held in check over the final 10 minutes of the game.
A.J., D.J. A-OK
Texas guards A.J. Abrams and D.J. Augustine combined for 30 points for Texas. Abrams, the lone returning Texas starter from last season's Elite Eight team, hit 4 of 9 3-point attempts and finished with 14 points. Freshman point guard D.J. Augustine added 16 points.
Free Throw Woes
Both teams were less than stellar from the free throw line. Texas shot just 17 of 26 at the line and Arkansas was 10 of 20.
Another Rough Outing
It was another long day at the office for Arkansas' Steven Hill, who finished with just three points. Against Texas Tech on Saturday, Hill was held scoreless and was a non-factor again Wednesday night other than a brief stretch in the second half when he scored three points and pulled down five rebounds. Hill fouled out with just over two minutes left. Hill did attempt three field goals and four free throws after not taking a shot or getting a rebound against Texas Tech.
Heath Must Wait
Arkansas coach Stan Heath is still one victory shy of his 100th career victory. In five seasons at Arkansas, Heath is 69-60 and was 30-6 in his one season at Kent State.
TV Losses Mount
Arkansas saw its record on ESPN fall to 3-3 with a third straight loss. The Razorbacks opened with three straight ESPN victories in the Old Spice Classic in Orlando, but have since suffered losses to Missouri, Texas Tech and Texas in succession. Arkansas' next game on ESPN will be Jan. 9 when it travels to Florida to take on the defending national champion Gators.
Back In Action
The Razorbacks won't get much time to catch their breath following the trip to Austin. Arkansas hosts Oral Roberts on Friday in Bud Walton Arena at 7:05 p.m. before catching a little break for the holidays. Following the ORU contest, Arkansas will be off until Dec. 30 when it hosts Louisiana Tech at 1:05 p.m. Both games will be televised on ARSN (cable channel 9 in Northwest Arkansas).
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