Williamson outlasts Hill in key duel NCAA TOURNAMENT


CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Twenty seconds into the game, Grant Hill, maybe the most graceful player in college basketball, was on the floor, grimacing after he slipped and landed on his tailbone.

After four minutes, Corliss Williamson, who entered as the most accurate shooter in NCAA tournament history, was 0-for-5 from the field and guilty of two turnovers.

Initial impressions aside, the two most important players over the course of the NCAA tournament at times elevated the title game into the Hill and Will Show with their wide range of skills. In the end, however, Williamson was able to most closely approximate the caliber of play he had exhibited in the first five games, and, like all Razorbacks foes, Hill tailed off for a long, telling stretch.

Hill tied the game at 70 with a three-pointer with 1:30 to go, but they were his only points of the last 14 minutes. He anticipated that a platoon system would be used to defend him, and in the opening five minutes alone, Ken Biley, Clint McDaniel and Scotty Thurman marked him.

"We doubled up on him [Hill], we matched up against him, we manned him," Arkansas coach Nolan Richardson said. "I think he never got comfortable."

Against all that attention, Hill scored 12 points, gave up the ball for a game-high six assists, but he also was charged with a season-high nine turnovers. Hill played 38 of the last 39 minutes, but he said fatigue wasn't a factor.

"The turnovers aren't because I was tired," Hill said. "They were a sign of some great play by Arkansas. Playing for the national championship, you're not going to allow yourself to be tired."

Hill and the two other Duke seniors, Antonio Lang and Marty Clark, didn't become the first players to win three NCAA titles since the UCLA dynasty won seven straight from 1967-73. With Williamson at the core of a young roster, the Razorbacks next year will be favored to repeat.

After his early struggles, Williamson (23 points) made five of his -- next seven shots to stake Arkansas to a 34-33 halftime lead. He was taken out of the offense during Duke's 13-0 run early in the second half, and that was the main topic during a Razorbacks timeout.

"We talked about letting the Big Nasty touch it [the ball] before we shoot," Richardson said. "He's done it all year long."

Thanks to Williamson's work in the low post, Arkansas never trailed in the last four minutes. He fought off Lang and converted a lob pass for a 67-65 lead. On the Razorbacks' next possession, Williamson hauled down a Dwight Stewart miss, was fouled by Jeff Capel and turned it into a three-point play.

"It was tough to stay inside when the shots weren't falling [early]," Williamson said.

The Most Outstanding Player in the tournament, Williamson scored in double figures for the 16th straight game, but he made only 10 of 24 field-goal attempts. He came in as the tournament's all-time leader in field-goal percentage, but his mark in that department dropped from 73.6 to 66.7, behind Bill Walton and two others.

Hill defended Williamson on a few occasions, but the two weren't formally introduced until 40 seconds before halftime. Williamson went up for what appeared to be an uncontested dunk, but Hill came over and blocked it away.

"You're not going to be able to do too much to stop a player like Corliss," Hill said. "One on one, he's so tough to guard, and he runs the court so well."


A game-by-game breakdown of Arkansas' Corliss Williamson and Duke's Grant Hill in this year's NCAA tournament:


Opp. .. .. .. ..Pts. .. ..FG .. ..R .. ..A

N.C. A&T; .. .. ..24 .. .10-13 .. .7 .. ..2

Georgetown .. ...21 .. ..8-11 .. .6 .. ..5

Tulsa .. .. .. ..21 .. .10-13 .. .9 .. ..2

Michigan .. .. ..12 .. ..6-10 .. .6 .. ..3

Arizona .. .. ...29 .. .11-18 .. 13 .. ..5

Duke .. .. .. ...23 .. .10-24 .. .8 .. ..3

Totals .. .. ..21.7 .. .55-89 ...8.2 ..3.3


Opp. .. .. .. ...Pts. .. .FG .. ..R .. ..A

Tex. Sthrn .. .. .11 .. ..5-8 .. .9 .. ..5

Michigan St. .. ..25 .. .9-20 .. .5 .. ..7

Marquette .. .. ..22 ...10-16 .. .9 .. ..6

Purdue .. .. .. ..11 .. .4-12 .. .7 .. ..5

Florida .. .. .. .25 .. .8-13 .. .6 .. ..5

Arkansas .. .. ...12 .. .4-11 .. 14 .. ..6

Totals .. .. .. .17.7 ..40-80 ...8.3 ..5.7

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