FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Mike Anderson is in his seventh season coaching basketball at Arkansas. Only Nolan Richardson, Eddie Sutton and Glen Rose have done more with the Razorbacks than Anderson.
Last Saturday at Bud Walton Arena, Anderson won his 100th game inside Arkansas’ digs. Only Richardson has won more in those confines. Toss in all the games Anderson won alongside Richardson as an assistant, for the entire time Richardson was running the show with the Razorbacks no less, and perhaps no man is more attuned to Bud Walton Arena than Arkansas’ current coach.
With the 100-win hallmark just passed and this being Arkansas 25th anniversary of playing in the SEC, we thought it would be worthwhile to take a look at some of Anderson’s more memorable games played inside the Basketball Palace of Mid America.
So, from longest ago to most recent, here are seven memorable Arkansas games under Anderson’s watch:
Arkansas 66, No. 20 Michigan 64 — Jan. 21, 2012
This was the first sign that Mike Anderson could do something big at Arkansas. Razorbacks fans had just lived through three down years and one underachieving one under the watch of John Pelphrey. Excitement was extremely low. When people talk about wanting to return to Hawg Ball of the 1990s, they say that because of those Pelphrey teams. A lot of folks gave up on Arkansas hoops before Anderson arrived.
This brought some of them back. The Razorbacks were at their peak in Anderson’s first season back in Fayetteville at this game. The Hogs had just been beaten by second-ranked Kentucky four days earlier and had this one-off nonconference game smack in the middle of SEC play. Things were a struggle from this point on, the rest of the 2011-2012 season, but beating Michigan — a team that won 24 games that year — was a sign of better times.
Arkansas 80, No. 2 Florida 69 — Feb. 5, 2013
Those better teams came the very next season as Arkansas won 10 SEC games. It wasn’t enough to get the Hogs into the postseason because of a weak conference and a mediocre showing in Arkansas’ nonconference season, but it was another step in the right direction.
Anderson kept his team playing high-quality basketball in Bud Walton. Retrospectively, it’s hard to see how this Florida team was ranked second in the country. But the Gators were and no one is making any apologies for it. The Hogs beat them pillar to post, a bright spot in the middle of a hum-drum stretch of the year. Nothing sexy about it as Arkansas’ leading scorer was BJ Young with 13 points.
Arkansas 87, No. 13 Kentucky 85 (OT) — Jan. 14, 2014
This one gets nothing more than the highlight. The most memorable moment Bud Walton has had this decade and, really, it isn’t close.
Arkansas 93, Alabama 91 (OT) — Jan. 22, 2015
The previous game listed was the harbinger of what the 2015-16 season would bring. Bobby Portis was a superstar sophomore, Michael Qualls a beloved swingman, and Ky Madden and Alandise Harris the hard-charging seniors. The Razorbacks were good this season. But entering Jan. 22, they were losers of two in a row and some were thinking Arkansas was in for a disappointment.
Portis didn’t let it be three. Eerily similar to Qualls’ dunk the season before, this one is less remembered because it was Alabama and not Kentucky and, well, it wasn’t a dunk. It should be recalled, though. This was a more important game as it relates to the whole of the season.
LSU 81, No. 18 Arkansas 78 – March 7, 2015
One loss on this list. Not a bad loss and it didn’t ultimately mean much for the Razorbacks as Arkansas went the very next week and took itself to the SEC title game.
Keith Hornsby’s buzzer-beating 3-pointer from the corner, though, meant a ton for LSU. The Tigers probably didn’t make the NCAA Tournament without it as they were beaten by 13-seed Auburn in the SEC Tournament.
LSU, by the way, hasn’t come close to being this good since.
Arkansas 74, No. 5 Texas A&M 71 – Jan. 27, 2016
The 2016-17 season was one to forget. It yielded the worst record (16-16) Anderson has ever had as a head coach in Division I basketball. The losses of Portis and Qualls to the NBA draft and Harris and Madden to exhausted eligibility left a heavy load for Moses Kingsley and Dusty Hannahs, two good players who had not yet been in the spotlight.
For one night, though, in the midst of all the mediocrity, the Razorbacks sent a shockwave through the SEC. Kingsley, Hannahs and Anthlon Bell combined for 52 of the team’s 74 points that night in a huge upset.
Arkansas 95, No. 14 Minnesota 79 — Dec. 9, 2017
This one may not quite stand the test of time. Or it might. But this was Daniel Gafford, at home, playing his breakout game. The freshman likely isn’t long for the University of Arkansas. The NBA hearkens. But Arkansas’ most recent win at home, Anderson’s 100th, was one to remember.