I headed to Dallas over the weekend for my birthday…a surprise trip that my wife had planned for months. Initially, the plan was just to watch the Mavericks play host to the Miami Heat on Friday night. But as we were picked up at the airport by good friend HogN_TX, we had already decided that the Arkansas vs. Baylor game was a must-see as well.
It was definitely setting up to be a great birthday weekend. With tickets in hand, my only concerns were: a) would Hog fans show up; and b) could the Razorbacks win a game on the road against a very good Baylor team.
When we arrived at the American Airlines Center about 40 minutes before game time, I started to get the feeling that it was going to be a good crowd, as we were seeing Razorback red everywhere.
But as we reached our seats right before tipoff, I couldn’t believe the number of Hog fans in attendance. There were entire sections full of Razorback fans and they were in the best seats, too. By contrast, the majority of the Baylor faithful were in the end zone and the sections near their bench.
Once the game started, both crowds were vocal in support of their team. In fact, a couple of Baylor students in the section next to us were ushered out for being a little too vocal. I guess they weren’t very happy sitting around all us Hog fans.
As the game progressed, you could see the confidence building in the Razorback players. I thought they played much better perimeter defense and definitely had one of their best shooting nights of the season.
The Bears had a hard time defending Beverley and Weems on the perimeter, while Townes, Washington and Thomas presented matchup problems for the Baylor frontcourt.
By the time the Hogs took the lead in the second half, the Bears looked tired and unsure. Their guards began breaking out of their offensive sets and firing desperation threes that were missing badly.
For the Hogs, I definitely saw some individual and team growth come out of this game…and it couldn’t have come at a better time. These guys have been trying to run a new system and, at times, have looked lost doing it. On Saturday, they seemed to get it.
If the Hogs can follow this win up with another one on Thursday at Auburn on ESPN2, I’ll definitely start to believe that they’ve turned the proverbial corner under John Pelphrey’s system.
A few quick notes:
- Marcus Britt continues to impress me with his defense and poise.
- Even with all the Hog fans in attendance, it was still a very hostile environment. The Razorback fans, however, certainly made their presence felt. And that even carried over after the game when they were calling the Hogs outside a local news station in Victory Park.
- And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the Baylor halftime performance that consisted of the Baylor bear mascot dancing, and then a 100 guitar band playing Johnny Cash.
Finally, I’d like to say thanks again to HogN_TX for the hospitality, great seats, and showing us around Dallas. And…for letting me present him with his RazorBloggers T-shirt in person for winning one of our predictions contests during football season.