Bob Holt is a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Missouri, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and voter for the Heisman Trophy, Biletnikoff Award and AP Top 25 basketball poll. Holt was awarded Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year in 2000 and 2015.
4th OT required to gain notoriety
Arkansas coach Mike Anderson and Arkansas forward Alandise Harris talk on the sidelines after Arkansas turned the ball over late in the overtime period of a game against Florida at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE - Vanderbilt basketball Coach Kevin Stallings can hardly grasp what it’s been like for Arkansas to have three consecutive games go into overtime.
“It’s almost cruel and unusual punishment I would say,” Stallings said. “But it might be the nature of the competitive balance of this league, and there might be a lot of overtime games.”
Arkansas is one of nine SEC teams to have at least one conference game go into overtime this season, but the Razorbacks (12-5, 1-3) have taken it to an extreme and have a chance to tie an NCAA record if Wednesday’s 7 p.m. game at Tennessee (11-6, 2-2) goes beyond the 40 minutes of regulation time at Thompson-Boling Arena.
Four teams have played four consecutive overtime games according to all-time NCAA records, including Maryland-Baltimore County this season. Arkansas can become the fifth.
Before this stretch the Razorbacks played back-to-back overtime games once over a span of 2,447 games that dates back to 1923. They did it during their run to the 1995 NCAA Tournament Championship Game, needing overtime to beat Syracuse in Austin, Texas, and Memphis in Kansas City, Mo.
The Razorbacks’ recent stretch of overtime games has resulted in a 1-2 record, not NCAA Tournament success: They lost to No. 6 Florida and beat No. 14 Kentucky at Walton Arena before losing to Georgia in Athens.
Arkansas had seven-point leads in the second half against Florida and Georgia.
“We’re hurt right now,” senior forward Coty Clarke said after the Georgia game. “We let two get away that we were supposed to win. But supposed to is long gone. We’ve just got to finish.”
Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson said his team has showed resiliency.
“Now we’ve just got to figure out the little things that it will take us to get us over the hump,” Anderson said. “Our guys are competing. They’re fighting, and there are some things that we can correct.”
Two areas - rebounding and attempting and hitting free throws - stand out. Georgia outrebounded Arkansas 56-34, which helped the Bulldogs hit 28 of 39 free throws compared to 12 of 20 by the Razorbacks.
“Hopefully, we’re learning,” Anderson said. “I think that’s the key. You’ve got to learn how to win.”
Clarke said the Razorbacks have to find positives in tough losses.
“Most importantly, just stay strong, stay trusting each other and trusting the system,” he said. “Don’t fade now, because if you do that, then everything will go down the drain.”
Stallings said he doesn’t even know what to think about playing three consecutive overtime games.
“I guess on the one hand you’ve got a chance to win them all, and on the other hand, sometimes 40 minutes - you feel like it should be enough,” Stallings said. “So you shouldn’t have to go 45.
“I hope Mike’s holding up well.”
Anderson jokingly said after the Kentucky game that if he had any hair, it would be gray.
“Tell him I can relate to that aspect of it,” Stallings said. “I don’t have anymore hair to lose, either.”
Ole Miss Coach Andy Kennedy doesn’t have any hair, and that was before the Rebels’ three overtime home games this season, in which they lost to Oregon 115-105 and Dayton 83-80 before beating LSU 88-74.
“The more times you’re in tight situations, you’d hope guys would learn from it and be able to use it to their advantage as the season continues,” Kennedy said. “There’s not a lot of separation in college basketball, and our league’s no different.”
Arkansas has the depth to deal with the extended minutes, using 11 players in each of the overtime games, and nine Razorbacks averaged between 35 and 11 minutes.
“You still have fresh legs as opposed to maybe five or six guys that can get bogged down,” Tennessee Coach Cuonzo Martin said.
But what about the Razorbacks’ mental state.
“We’re right there,” senior guard Fred Gulley said. “We’ve competed with a lot of good teams and we consider ourselves a good team, so you win some, you lose some.
“Thankfully, we have a good amount of the schedule still left.”
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette staff writer Tom Murphy contributed information for this article.
45 minutes of Hell?
If Arkansas reaches overtime at Tennessee on Wednesday night, the Razorbacks will become the fifth NCAA Division I team to play four consecutive overtime games. The Razorbacks went to overtime in losing to Florida 84-82 on Jan. 11, beating Kentucky 87-85 on Jan. 14, and losing at Georgia 66-61 on Saturday in their previous three games. Here are the four teams which, according to NCAA records, have played four consecutive overtime games: TEAM SEASON OTREC. Jacksonville (Fla.) 1981-1982 3-1 Illinois State 1983-1984 3-1 Dayton 1987-1988 1-3 Md.-Baltimore Co. 2013-2014 2-2 SOURCE NCAA
Up next Arkansas men at Tennessee WHEN Wednesday, 7 p.m. Central WHERE Thompson-Boling Arena, Knoxville, Tenn.
TV KATV, channel 7, in Little Rock; KHBS/KHOG, channels 40/29, in Northwest Arkansas; KAIT, channel 8, in Jonesboro
Sports, Pages 13 on 01/21/2014