FAYETTEVILLE -- The tributes for coach Nolan Richardson were pouring in Sunday as University of Arkansas officials revealed Walton Arena's playing surface as Nolan Richardson Court.
The new inscription, written on both sidelines of the court, contains the famous slobbering Hog logo.
"Thank you! Thank you!" Richardson said when he got the microphone during pregame ceremonies. "The slobbering Hog is on there. It certainly brings back a lot of memories."
A group of about 30 former Arkansas players and 10 former assistants came onto the court for the court dedication, with the logos unveiled by current members of the men's and women's basketball teams.
The ceremony featured a video tribute from President Bill Clinton, who was in office when the Razorbacks won the 1994 NCAA championship under Richardson and welcomed the Razorbacks to the White House.
"You made that style yours," Clinton said in his remarks, referencing the 40 Minutes of Hell defensive style the Hogs employed under Richardson.
Arkansas Athletic Director Hunter Yurachek made the court dedication announcement and helped unveil a plaque given to Richardson along with UA chancellor Joe Steinmetz.
Richardson, in 17 seasons at Arkansas, won a school-record 389 games, five conference titles, made 13 NCAA Tournament appearances, three Final Fours and won the 1994 national championship.
Former Arkansas coach Mike Anderson, a longtime assistant for Richardson, received a rousing ovation as he entered the court near the end of the line of Richardson's former players, assistants and auxiliary personnel.
"Mike's just like my son," Richardson said in a halftime news conference. "I've had him ever since he was 19 or 20 years of age.
"Mike was a part of everything we've done. For example, we won the national junior college championship, and who did we play? Mike Anderson's team. We won the NIT. Mike was on my team. We won the national championship, and Mike was here as my assistant.
"The thing I enjoyed the most was how the fans appreciated him when he came out for the announcement."
Richardson thanked his former players, assistant coaches and the fans during the ceremony.
"From the bottom of my heart, from the bottom of the Richardson family's heart, I thank you, thank you, thank you."
Arkansas sophomore guard Isaiah Joe got the season off to a hot start from three-point range.
Joe made 8 of 17 three-point shots and led the Razorbacks with 25 points. He missed his only shot from inside the arc.
"I think we're going to try to take the most efficient shots, and sometimes it's going to be take a lot [of threes]," Joe said. "We're going to try to get up as many as we can, because the more we take the more that have a chance to go in."
In the first half, Joe canned 4 of 10 three-pointers with one of them leading to a rare four-point play after he was fouled by UALR's Ben Coupet.
The 6-5, 175-pounder from Fort Smith Northside made 113 of 273 three-pointers, both school records, last season.
The Trojans shot 13 of 30 (43.3%) from the free-throw line for the game, and an even poorer 5 of 16 (31.3%) in the first half.
"I've got to be honest," UALR Coach Darrell Walker said. "I can't say anything to the officials when I'm on the road and I get to shoot the ball 30 times from the free-throw line and we make 13.
"We didn't shoot well last year from the free-throw line. And God knows we spend a lot of time shooting free throws every day. My goal is to shoot between 70 and 72% from the free-throw line. If we can do that, we'll be fine."
Arkansas guard Isaiah Joe noted, "Yeah, we did foul a tremendous amount of times."
Nine is enough
The Razorbacks were whistled for nine consecutive fouls in the first half, including a pair of charges called on guard Mason Jones.
The team foul count was 3-1 UALR when the long run of Hog foul calls started at the 14:59 mark. When UALR was whistled for its next foul, a charge against Markquis Nowell drawn by Jimmy Whitt at 8:00 left, the foul count was 10-4 UA.
The final foul count was Arkansas 26, UALR 16.
"I told people for the last five and a half or six months that we have been really physical with each other in practice," UA Coach Eric Musselman said. "I thought we saw that tonight putting Little Rock on the line for 30 free throws attempted.
"We've got to clean up our fouling, but early on we did want to be physical and kind of be a team that played with physicality and now we've got to clean up and play without fouling."
Filling it up
Senior guard Jimmy Whitt had a loaded stat line before the first media timeout.
Whitt drove for a dunk to cap the Razorbacks' second scoring possession. He also assisted on a Desi Sills three-pointer from the left corner that gave the Hogs a 7-2 lead, then had a defensive rebound to trigger a break that led to an Isaiah Joe three-pointer for a 10-2 lead in the first four minutes.
Whitt finished with 7 points on 3-of-9 shooting, a team-high 9 rebounds, a game-high 8 defensive rebounds, 2 assists and a steal.
Hey to Mike
Arkansas guard Isaiah Joe said he caught up with former coach Mike Anderson, who returned for the Nolan Richardson Court ceremony. Anderson recruited and signed Joe, but he was fired this spring at Arkansas and is now the head coach at St. John's.
"I think it was real good that he got to come back and the players got to see him again," Joe said. "I did get a chance to talk to him and just catch up on things. He's still family, and I hope he has great success at St. John's. It's definitely good to see him and coach [T.J.] Cleveland here just to know they're still around."
Arkansas guard Desi Sills left the game about midway through the second half with a leg issue that turned out to be cramps.
Sills played 26 minutes and contributed 12 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists and a steal with no turnovers.
"Cramps," Coach Eric Musselman said. "Not too worried. Got to get him some potassium."
Senior forward Adrio Bailey, who was questionable with back spasms, was in the starting lineup.
Bailey had a highlight reel tip in over a Trojan defender, the touch near the rim putting in a three-point miss by Isaiah Joe. Bailey wound up with 8 points -- including 4 of 4 free-throw shooting -- 3 assists and 4 rebounds.
Sports on 10/21/2019
Print Headline: Tributes flood in for Nolan