Arkansas goes hog-wild in trouncing of Tulsa


DALLAS -- After his Arkansas team had routed Tulsa, 103-84, in last night's Midwest Regional final, coach Nolan Richardson was asked if his Razorbacks can perform any better.

"We're a ways away from playing good," Richardson said. "Some of these kids are just scratching the surface of their potential."

It's a scary thought if Arkansas can get any better than it was last night when the Razorbacks shot a season-high 66.1 percent from the field -- 72.4 percent in the second half. In winning, the top-seeded Razorbacks (28-3) advanced to the field of eight for the first time since 1991. A win tomorrow would put Arkansas in its first Final Four since 1990.

Tulsa (23-8), which at No. 12 was the lowest seed to make the Sweet 16, ended its season with its worst defeat of the year.

"We played about as hard as we could play," Tulsa coach Tubby Smith said. "I thought Arkansas played about as well as they could play."

Part of that dominance was Arkansas' 6-foot-7, 245-pound forward Corliss Williamson, who -- matched against Tulsa's 6-4 Gary Collier -- scored almost at will.

Williamson, who scored 27 points including the game-winning shot in December's 93-91 overtime win over Tulsa, scored 21 points last night on 10 of 13 shooting from the field.

Guard Scotty Thurman also scored 21 points, as four Arkansas players reached double figures. But it was the first-half play of reserve guard Clint McDaniel that got the Razorbacks going. McDaniel, who averaged 7.5 points a game going into last night, scored 15 of his 19 points in the first half.

Many felt that McDaniel should have been suspended for throwing an elbow and kicking a fallen Georgetown foe in last week's second-round win over the Hoyas. Spared a one-game suspension, McDaniel hit six of his seven first-half shots to help the Razorbacks take a 44-29 lead at the half.

"A lot of people said I shouldn't be playing," McDaniel said. "So I just wanted to come out and play as hard as I could."

Asked just what hurt his Tulsa team, Smith responded: "Williamson is an outstanding player, but the kid who set the tone was McDaniel."

Williamson, McDaniel and Thurman scored four points each during a 14-0 first-half run that sparked the win. Arkansas had trailed, 9-7, but had a 21-9 lead after a jumper by McDaniel ended the spurt.

Tulsa finally ended a stretch of 5:19 without a point when Shea Seals hit a three-pointer. But despite playing Arkansas relatively even the rest of the half, Tulsa -- which shot 30.6 percent -- still trailed 44-29.

"The reason why we made it this far is because we've been shooting well," Smith said. "We just couldn't get it going."

Arkansas was leading by 16 in the second half when Tulsa made its final run. With Williamson and Thurman taking a brief rest, the Golden Hurricane used its defensive pressure to force two turnovers during an 8-0 run. The points, coming in a span of 41 seconds, had Tulsa within 62-54 after guard Lou Dawkins scored on a layup with 12:06 left.

But after a timeout both Thurman and Williamson checked back in the game, and their contributions were immediate. On the Razorbacks' next possession, Thurman hit a three-pointer from just left of the key, and 1:07 later he added another trey. In all, he scored eight points during a 14-4 run that, following a layup by Williamson, had Arkansas ahead 76-58 with 8:15 left.

From there it was no contest. Arkansas had too many offensive weapons and too much size and rolled to the easy win that set up tomorrow's showdown with Michigan.

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