DALLAS -- Get ready, America, because tomorrow you're probably going to get a chance to witness your nation's president going "Hog Wild."
President Bill Clinton promised to come see his beloved Arkansas team play tomorrow if it reached the Midwest Regional finals, and last night the top-seeded Razorbacks delivered, trouncing No. 12 Tulsa, 103-84, before a sellout crowd at Reunion Arena.
Arkansas (28-3) advanced to the field of eight for the first time since 1991, and tomorrow will be aiming to make its first visit to the Final Four since 1990. Tulsa (23-8), the lowest seed to make the Sweet 16, ended its season with its worst defeat of the year.
It was a balanced scoring attack for the Razorbacks, who had four players score in double figures. Forward Corliss Williamson and guard Scotty Thurman, with 21 points each, led the way. But it was reserve guard Clint McDaniel -- who took a 7.5-point scoring average into last night's game -- who scored 15 of his 19 points in the first half when the Razorbacks took control of the game.
Tulsa got 32 points from forward Gary Collier and 19 from guard Shea Seals, but the team's two top scorers combined to hit just 16 of 43 shots from the field.
Arkansas was simply too tough to handle on the inside, scoring 46 of its points from in the paint. It was a problem that Tulsa expected, having had difficulties controlling the Razorbacks inside in a 93-91 loss to Arkansas in December.
It was the big 14-0 run that helped the Razorbacks to the 44-29 halftime lead, and Arkansas quickly increased it to 58-41 after a hook shot by freshman center Darnell Robinson with 15:36 left.
Arkansas later had a 16-point lead when Tulsa made its final run. With Razorbacks forward Corliss Williamson and guard Scotty 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 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 simply had too many offensive weapons and too much size. Combined with their stingy defense, the Razorbacks rolled to the easy win that set up tomorrow's showdown with last night's Maryland-Michigan winner.
The Razorbacks were able to dominate the early going with their defense, which led to easy baskets and an early 7-2 lead after a three-pointer from the top of the key by 6-foot-9, 260-pound center Dwight Stewart.
But no one expected this game to be a blowout, and Tulsa came right back by scoring the next seven points, taking a 9-7 lead on a three-pointer by guard Alvin Williamson.
But the outcome would be determined in the next 5:19 when the Golden Hurricane, which scored 112 points in a first-round win over UCLA and 82 points in a second-round win over Oklahoma State, simply could not find the basket.
While the Golden Hurricane suffered through the scoreless drought, the Razorbacks were on a roll that had their crowd in "Barnhill South" going wild.
A tip by Robinson tied the game and started the Razorbacks on a 14-0 run that gave Arkansas a 21-9 lead after a jumper by McDaniel. Aside from McDaniel's two jumpers, the rest of the Razorbacks' scoring came from in the paint -- an area that Tulsa figured it would have to control to win.
From there, the half was relatively even. Tulsa began pressing, which resulted in a couple of easy scores. Three times the Golden Hurricane was able to pull to within nine points, the last time after Collier scored on a layup with 6:45 left to pull Tulsa to within 28-19.
But McDaniel, noted as one of the team's quickest and best defensive players, was putting together a career game in the first half alone.
The 6-foot-4 junior scored eight of his team-high 15 first-half points over the last 4:25 of the half -- his season high was 16 -- that helped the Razorbacks take a 44-29 into the intermission.
Arkansas was impressive from the field, making 20 of its 33 field-goal attempts (60.6 percent) in the first half. McDaniel hit six seven shots and squeezed his 15 points in 11 minutes.
Meanwhile, Tulsa had its poorest half of the tournament, making just 11 of 36 shots (30.6 percent). Seals and Collier, the team's two top scorers, combined for 16 in the first half, but hit just six of 18 field-goal attempts.