Nutt Hopes Hogs Can Avenge USC Losses

SPOKANE, Wash. -- Arkansas center Steven Hill hasn't heard anything about it, and no one has approached coach Stan Heath this week to talk about football.

But it wouldn't have come as a surprise.

After all, there are some people -- including Arkansas football coach Houston Nutt -- who wouldn't mind seeing the basketball team get some payback for what Southern California has done to the Razorbacks on the football field lately.

"That's what I'm hoping," Nutt said earlier this week. "When I'm ... glued to the TV (watching the NCAA Tournament), that's what I'm going to be thinking."

Of course, basketball has nothing to do with football. They're completely different sports. But that doesn't mean there won't be a small, rather odd subplot to tonight's first-round game between Arkansas and USC in Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena.

When the two schools met on the football field on Sept. 17, 2005, the Trojans put up a basketball-like 70 points.

USC scored 28 points in the first quarter, had 42 points at halftime and ran like a basketball team constantly on a fast break. The Trojans cruised to a 70-17 win in Los Angeles.

The score was much closer when the two teams met last season, but USC still put up 50 points in the win -- including 34 in the second half.

That would have been a poor offensive output for a basketball team, but it was pretty impressive on the gridiron.

So have any fans said anything about the Razorbacks avenging those two blowout losses on the hardwood?

"No, no one has said that to me," Heath said, smiling. "But I would be happy to do that."

When Arkansas' basketball team was struggling toward the end of the regular season, Heath said he wanted his players to take a page from the football team and finish strong in the face of criticism.

The Razorbacks won five of their last six games to make the NCAA Tournament, and there are more similarities between the basketball and football teams than just their surprising seasons.

They both had big wins at Vanderbilt. They both lost to Florida in the Southeastern Conference championship game in Atlanta's Georgia Dome. And Nutt and Heath have both been on the hot seat.

"There is a lot of similarities," Nutt said. "Even when you go back to the Vanderbilt game, that was a key game (for the basketball team). Well, that was a key game for us.

"And then (Heath) wins a real big game, Mississippi State. Well, that was a real big game for us, Mississippi State, to win the (SEC's) western side.

"And we both got to Atlanta to play Florida in the championship game, so it's just a lot of similarities. It was good to see."

Nutt said he plans to watch Arkansas' first-round game against USC from his home. He wouldn't mind the Razorbacks getting some revenge, but no one told Arkansas' players that.

"That's the first time I've heard that," Hill said. "It's kind of ironic, though, that we played Florida in the Georgia Dome and now we play USC.

"Hopefully, we can deliver a little payback."

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