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House of horrors: Hogs' 23-year drought at Florida ‘hard to believe’

By: Bob Holt
Published: Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Arkansas coach Mike Anderson signals to his team during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Florida in Gainesville, Fla., Wednesday, March 1, 2017. Florida won 78-65. (AP Photo/Ron Irby)
Arkansas coach Mike Anderson signals to his team during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Florida in Gainesville, Fla., Wednesday, March 1, 2017. Florida won 78-65. (AP Photo/Ron Irby)

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- The Arkansas Razorbacks have been 0 for the O'Dome for 23 years.

Florida has beaten the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville 12 consecutive times in the O'Connell Center -- better known as the O'Dome to the Gators and their fans -- since the Razorbacks last won there 94-85 on Feb. 28, 1995.

No current Razorback had been born the last time Arkansas won at Florida.

"I mean, it's hard to believe," Razorbacks senior guard Anton Beard said of the program's losing streak at Florida lasting more than 20 years. "But that's what it is."

Arkansas (12-5, 2-3 SEC) will try to end its misery at Florida when the Razorbacks play the Gators (12-5, 4-1) at 6 p.m. tonight.

The game is being televised on ESPN2. Arkansas may lobby for it to be replayed on ESPN Classic if the Razorbacks can find a way to win.

Mike Anderson, in his seventh season as the Razorbacks' coach and 16th as a head coach, was an Arkansas assistant in 1995. Scotty Thurman, a Razorbacks assistant coach, scored 12 points in Arkansas' last victory at Florida.

Dave England was the trainer for the team in 1995 and as he is now.

But other than Anderson, Thurman and England, no one connected with this season's team has experienced a victory at Florida.

"They've done what they're supposed to do," Anderson said of the Gators. "They take care of their home."

Billy Donovan went 467-186 in 19 seasons as Florida's coach -- including back-to-back national championships in 2006 and 2007 -- before moving to the NBA with Oklahoma City. He never lost at home to Arkansas, going 10-0.

"When Billy was there, he had some phenomenal teams, and they played well [at home]," Anderson said. "Of course, since we've been here, we've had some opportunities and just couldn't finish it.

"Let's hope this will be the time we can finish it."

Senior forward Trey Thompson and Beard are the only Razorbacks to be on the team the past four seasons when the Razorbacks have combined to go 0-5 against the Gators.

"Florida is one of the teams me and Anton haven't had the chance of beating," Thompson said. "They're a tough team, but if we come down there and play good defense, and do what we're supposed to do, I think we'll be all right."

Arkansas has lost seven consecutive games to Florida since the Razorbacks upset the No. 2 Gators 80-69 on Feb. 2, 2013, in Walton Arena. Beard and Thompson were high school seniors at the time.

Gators Coach Mike White, 40, was a senior at Jesuit High School in New Orleans in 1995 when Arkansas last won at Florida.

"I couldn't tell you. I'm bad with history," White said when asked about Florida's home winning streak against Arkansas. "I was probably struggling in history class at Jesuit at that time.

"I have no idea about that streak."

White, who is 4-0 against Arkansas since coming to Florida, said the streak has nothing to do with tonight's game.

"It'll have to deal with this year's team for the Gators, and this year's team for the Hogs," he said. "I don't know why certain streaks exist, why certain teams and certain programs match up favorably against others and vice versa.

"I know that Arkansas is good every year, and they continue to be one of the most competitive programs in our league."

The Razorbacks came closest to ending their losing streak at Florida in 2015 when the Gators had a controversial 57-56 victory in Donovan's final game against Arkansas.

Gators junior guard Michael Frazier hit two free throws with 1.9 seconds left to erase a 56-55 Arkansas lead after Razorbacks forward Alandise Harris was called for a foul on a blocked shot.

Harris appeared to get all ball with his left hand and not much body contact in a game in which there were a combined 19 fouls called.

Anderson was highly critical in his postgame news conference of Harris being whistled for the foul -- and called out official John Hampton by name -- but he wasn't reprimanded or fined by SEC Commissioner Mike Slive.

"All you've got to do is look at the replay," Anderson said after the game. "There's no way that was a foul. For it to end that way, I was really disappointed.

"John Hampton made one of the more critical calls I thought in this game -- the last play. I was not satisfied with that.

"It's tough from the standpoint that the kids for both teams are out there busting their tails and for it to come down to what took place, it's a total disappointment. I know it's a judgment call, but that's my judgement."

Florida is the only SEC road site where Arkansas hasn't won since Anderson became the Razorbacks' coach.

Georgia has a longer losing streak at Florida than Arkansas -- dropping 14 in a row in the O'Connell Center -- but the Bulldogs have won there more recently than the Razorbacks with a 84-79 victory Jan. 19, 2002.

The Gators survived another close call at home against the Razorbacks in 2016 when Florida won 87-83.

"You want to hang around and hang around," Anderson said of what it will take to win tonight. "The things you have to do, you have to shoot the basketball, you have to defend, you have to get to the free throw line and you have to make free throws, and you can't turn the ball over.

"Every guy on their team is capable of knocking down a three-point shot. Our transition defense has to be on point.

"We have to keep them off the offensive boards, and we have to keep those runs as minimal as we possibly can and make our own runs with our defense."

Florida has been vulnerable this season at home, where the Gators are 7-2. They lost back-to-back home games to Florida State 83-66 and Loyola Chicago 65-59 in early December.

"They're starting to get that edge back," Anderson said. "They lost a couple of games early on, but we can see in conference play they're playing awfully well."

Arkansas men at Florida

WHEN 6 p.m. Central today WHERE O’Connell Center, Gainesville, Fla. RECORDS Arkansas 12-5, 2-3 SEC; Florida 12-5, 4-1 SERIES Florida leads 22-11 RADIO Razorback Sports Network TELEVISION ESPN2

PROBABLE STARTING LINEUPS

FLORIDA POS. NAME, HT, YR PPG RPG G KeVaughn Allen, 6-2, Jr. 10.3 2.4 G Chris Chiozza, 6-0, Sr. 12.6 4.3 G Egor Koulechov, 6-5, Sr. 15.2 7.0 F Keith Stone, 6-8, So. 8.2 4.1 F Kevarrius Hayes, 6-9, Jr. 5.1 5.1 COACH Mike White (60-29 in third season at Florida, 161-69 overall in seventh season) ARKANSAS POS. NAME, HT, YR PPG RPG G Jaylen Barford, 6-3, Sr. 18.4 4.2 , G Anton Beard, 6-0, Sr. 11.1 2.5 F Daniel Gafford, 6-11, Fr. 11.9 6.1 F Dustin Thomas, 6-8, Sr. 4.6 4.1 F Darious Hall, 6-6, Fr. 4.9 3.0 COACH Mike Anderson (140-79 in seventh season at Arkansas, 340-177 overall in 16th season)

’ TEAM COMPARISON

Florida Arkansas 81.6 Points for 85.1 72.5 Points against 74.9 +0.1 Rebound margin -0.1 +4.9 Turnover margin +3.8 44.1 FG pct. 49.4 39.0 3-PT pct. 38.5 76.4 FT pct. 66.5 CHALK TALK Arkansas senior guard Daryl Macon had 8 points, 8 assists and 6 rebounds against Missouri last Saturday when he came off the bench after starting the first 16 games. … Florida 6-6 junior guard Jalen Hudson, who redshirted last year after transferring from Virginia Tech, is averaging. a team-high 16.2 points per game. He has seven starts this season, but has played four of the last five games off the bench. … The Razorbacks have lost 12 consecutive games at Florida since last winning in Gainesville 94-85 on Feb. 28, 1995. … The Gators have won seven in a row in the series since the Razorbacks beat No. 2 Florida 80-69 on Feb. 5, 2013. … Florida guard KeVaughn Allen, a junior from North Little Rock, is averaging 13.5 points, 3.0 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.0 steals in four previous games against Arkansas. He has hit 17 of 38 shots in those games, including 9 of 20 three-pointers, and 11 of 11 free throws. … Razorbacks Coach Mike Anderson is 1-8 against Florida. … Gators Coach Mike White is 4-0 against Arkansas.

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