Hill's Improbable Shot Caps Arkansas Upset

ATLANTA — Too bad only about 1,000 people saw this game in person. Twelve ties, 17 lead changes and one unforgettable six-footer by Steven Hill highlighted Arkansas' 92-91 victory over No. 4 Tennessee on Saturday night.

And no one wearing a Razorback jersey seemed to want the evening to end. Before a high school-like crowd in Georgia Tech's Alexander Memorial Coliseum, Arkansas and No. 4 Tennessee battled for all 40 minutes, constantly snatching the lead away from one another. But the final lead change, on Hill's improbable game-winner with six seconds left, provided the most unlikely finish to any Razorback win in recent memory.

"That's not really my go-to move," Hill said afterward with a laugh. "Maybe in Horse for fun, or something like that."

The 7-foot senior's only points of the game cemented Arkansas' place in the SEC Tournament championship game for the second straight season and sparked a wild celebration. Arkansas coach John Pelphrey viciously pumped his fist after Tennessee's Chris Lofton bricked a 3-pointer at the buzzer and assured the Hogs of a 2:30 p.m. matchup today with Georgia.

Patrick Beverley darted toward the scorer's table, leapt up onto it and repeatedly yanked at the front of his uniform to flash "Arkansas" to the crowd. Sonny Weems ran into the stands. Charles Thomas collapsed to the court in tears. Darian Townes hid his eyes, bolting onto the floor with his jersey pulled up over his head.

The jubilation even spilled into the Arkansas locker room, where Beverley jumped into Hill's arms.

"The way these guys responded when he walked through the door was remarkable," Pelphrey said. "To me, that was the coolest thing about the whole deal."

The fact Arkansas is again playing its best basketball of the season in Atlanta must feel pretty cool to the Razorbacks, as well. The Hogs did struggle to stop Bruce Pearl's explosive Volunteers (29-4) for the first 31 minutes Saturday. But their offense kept them close.

Arkansas (22-10) shot 55.2 percent from the floor, making up for yet another sub-par scoring performance by Weems. Thomas scored a career-high 24 points. Beverley continued to put the words "sophomore slump" behind him with 17 points. Townes demanded the ball and looked unstoppable during his 16-point effort. Stefan Welsh drained four 3-pointers.

But ultimately, the Hogs cited a defensive awakening as the main reason for fighting back from several deficits. Pelphrey called timeout with 8:50 left after Tennessee ripped off nine straight points to take a 73-64 lead. He looked at his Razorbacks and, as usual, used an honest assessment to motivate. Gary Ervin said Pelphrey told the Razorbacks "they couldn't win because their defense was awful."

"I thought I was speaking the truth," Pelphrey said. "I wanted to get their attention."

He certainly did, and the Razorbacks outscored Tennessee 28-18 the rest of the way, producing crucial results on both ends of the court. No play, however, was more memorable than Hill's turnaround jumper over Tennessee's Wayne Chism.

JaJuan Smith put the Vols up 91-90 with 23 seconds left on a layup. Without any more timeouts, Pelphrey couldn't stop the action to get Weems and Townes back on the floor. So he instructed Ervin to make a play.

Ervin tried to drive past his defender but slipped. He picked up his dribble and started to look around. He couldn't find anyone. Then, he peered back toward the basket. He saw Hill's number "51" with no defender in front, so he fed him the ball.

"We had them all tied up," Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl said. "I mean, they threw it in there really out of desperation. Nobody else was open."

Hill caught the pass, spun and lofted the fade-away with confidence. It didn't even touch the rim.

"I obviously did not expect to take that shot or any other shot that late in the game," Hill said. "But it went in. So I can't complain."

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