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.
A look back at Arkansas and North Carolina's 5 NCAA Tournament meetings
NWA Democrat-Gazette/Michael Woods RUMINATING RAZORBACKS: Arkansas forward Bobby Portis and North Carolina guard Nate Britt get tangled up going after a loose ball during the first half of an NCAA third-round game March 21 at Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Fla. Southeastern Conference player of the year Portis and teammate Michael Qualls continue to weigh their NBA options after standout underclassman campaigns.
GREENVILLE, S.C. Sunday will mark the sixth time Arkansas has played North Carolina in the NCAA Tournament and the third time since 2008. The Tar Heels hold a 3-2 lead. Here’s a look back at the teams’ postseason matchups:
Arkansas 96, North Carolina 73
March 22, 1990, Reunion Arena, Dallas, Midwest Regional semifinals
Lenzie Howell led Arkansas with 25 points, Lee Mayberry and Oliver scored 19 each and Todd Day added 18 as the fourth-seeded Razorbacks routed the Tar Heels, who were making their 10th consecutive trip to the Sweet 16.
Arkansas outscored North Carolina 9-0 in a 90-second span midway through the second half with Mayberry and Day hitting three-point baskets to push the Razorbacks’ lead from 57-55 to 66-55, and they kept pouring it on.
“I’ve always said we’re kind of a walking time bomb,” Arkansas Coach Nolan Richardson. ”If things blow up and they get going, we’re hard to stop.”
The Razorbacks handed North Carolina its worst NCAA Tournament defeat since a 92-65 loss to Purdue in the 1969 Final Four.
“A lot of teams could have been blown out by Arkansas tonight,” Tar Heels Coach Dean Smith said. ”And this is at Barnhill South, too.”
Arkansas advanced to the Final Four, where the Razorbacks lost to Duke.
North Carolina 80, Arkansas 74
March 26, 1993, The Meadowlands, East Rutherford, N.J. East Regional semifinals
The Tar Heels were clinging to a one-point lead when North Carolina guard Donald Williams broke open on a back-door cut, got a pass from Georgia Lynch and hit a layup with 42 seconds left that proved to be the decisive basket.
Lynch led North Carolina with 23 points and 10 rebounds, but Williams scored the Tar Heels’ last nine points.
North Carolina Coach Dean Smith called timeout with 51.7 seconds left to set up the back-door play designed to take advantage of Arkansas’ aggressive defense.
“We just spread out and let it happen,” Williams said.
Freshman forward Corliss Williamson led the Razorbacks with 16 points. Senior guard Robert Shepherd added 13 points and freshman forward Scotty Thurman and sophomore guard Clint McDaniel scored 12 points each.
North Carolina went on to win Smith’s second national championship.
Arkansas 75, North Carolina 68
April 1, 1995, the Kingdome, Seattle, Final Four
The defending national champion Razorbacks earned a return trip to the title game as junior forward Corliss Williamson scored 19 of his game-high 21 points in the second half.
“I had to assert myself more in the second half,” Williamson said. “I was a non-factor in the first half.”
North Carolina went 12:37 of the second half without a field goal while missing 11 consecutive shots, but the Tar Heels rallied to cut a 69-58 deficit to 69-68 with 47.7 seconds remaining.
Arkansas senior guard Clint McDaniel then hit 4 of 4 free throws in the final 20.2 seconds to clinch the victory.
“I didn’t even look up at the scoreboard to see what the score was,” McDaniel, who scored 13 points, said of his first two free throws. “I didn’t know it was a one-point game.”
Senior forward Dwight Stewart scored 15 points for the Razorbacks, including a 55-foot basket that barely beat the half-court buzzer.
Donald Williams led North Carolina with 19 points and Jerry Stackhouse added 18.
UCLA beat Arkansas 89-78 to deny the Razorbacks back-to-back national championships.
North Carolina 108, Arkansas 77
March 23, 2008, PNC Arena, Raleigh, N.C., East Regional second round
The top-ranked Tar Heels were playing in North Carolina State’s arena, but felt right at home in pounding the Razorbacks.
Ty Lawson led North Carolina with 20 points and seven assists.
North Carolina opened with a 9-0 lead and never let Arkansas into the game. The Razorbacks didn’t get closer than 21 points in the second half.
Deon Thompson added 16 points for North Carolina on 8-for-8 shooting. The Tar Heels shot 67.7 percent from the field.
Senior guard Sonny Weems led the Razorbacks with 19 points.
North Carolina’s 31-point winning margin represented the second-most-lopsided loss for the Razorbacks in NCAA Tournament play, surpassed only by a 97-62 setback to Cincinnati and Oscar Robertson in 1958.
The Tar Heels lost to Kansas — Tar Heels Coach Roy Williams’ old team — in the Final Four.
North Carolina 87, Arkansas 78
March 21, 2015, Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Jacksonville, Fla., West Regional second round
North Carolina junior guard Marcus Paige scored 20 of his 22 points in the second half as the fourth-seeded Tar Heels used a 17-4 run to move ahead 75-63 and erase a 59-56 Arkansas lead.
Junior guard Michael Qualls led the fifth-seeded Razorbacks with 27 points and had 10 rebounds. Arkansas sophomore forward Bobby Portis had 18 points and 13 rebounds.
“Paige just did what big-time players do,” Portis said. “He stepped up for his basketball team when they needed him to.
“The first half he kind of struggled, but in the second half he started being a leader and being more dynamic on the court.”
There were 48 combined fouls: 25 on the Tar Heels and 23 on the Razorbacks.
“The ball was stopping every 40 seconds,” Qualls said. “That takes away a lot of what we want to do.”
North Carolina lost its next game to Wisconsin in the West Regional semifinals.
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