DALLAS (AP) -- Kansas last year, Arkansas this year. The Bucknell
Bison sure are taking down some historic programs on their way to
making a name for themselves.
The Patriot League champions moved to the second round of the
NCAA Tournament for the second straight year Friday, this time
taking the unusual route of making more 3-pointers than 2s in a
59-55 victory over the Razorbacks.
Charles Lee and Kevin Bettencourt combined for 42 points and
nine of Bucknell's season-high 11 3s, many of them fired when the
shot clock was nearly running out. The Bison (27-6) made only six
shots inside the arc, going more than 15 minutes between them at
"Wow," Lee said, marveling at the bizarre box score. "We were
just feeling it today."
Bucknell usually doesn't play that way. Then again, in their
academic-oriented conference, the Bison usually don't face teams as
big and quick as Arkansas (22-10).
"Hey, we held them to 37 percent shooting -- that's great
defense," Razorbacks coach Stan Heath said. "You can say we
didn't defend the 3, but about four were with 1 second, 2 seconds,
left on the shot clock, guys on them and they get it off, and it
Bucknell led for most of the game, but began fizzling after
going up by 10 midway through the second half. Lee hit the Bison's
final 3 with 3:42 left and they had to sweat it out from there.
The Razorbacks tied it at 55 on a pair of free throws with 1:15
left. Bucknell's fatigue may have shown with Lee and Bettencourt
missing three straight free throws with about a half-minute left,
but Arkansas failed to capitalize.
Ronnie Brewer, the SEC's leading scorer and the son of the Hogs'
1978 tournament star Ron Brewer, missed a tying jumper with about
15 seconds left. The rebound caromed off several bodies, then made
its way to the shortest player on either team, 6-foot Abe Badmus of
Bucknell, and he was fouled with 7.9 seconds remaining.
Badmus, the starting point guard, was in his 34th minute but
hadn't taken a shot -- "Every time I got in the lane, the trees
were all over me," he said.
He made both free throws, even with the Razorbacks breaking his
rhythm by calling timeout after the first one.
"I wasn't really thinking about" the circumstances, he said.
"I just let my muscle memory take over. I practice them every day,
just like every other college basketball player."
Bucknell's postgame celebration was more relief than the joy
seen following their stunning upset over Kansas last March.
At least this time they got to hear their own band play the
school's fight song. Last year's tournament berth was such a
surprise that the band already had made other plans for spring
break. All 28 made this trip, with one donning an oversized, orange
foam cowboy hat.
The saga of the bandless team helped make Bucknell such a
charming story last year. This year's run has more of a sorrowful
twist: The 2-month-old daughter of assistant coach Bryan Goodman
died Monday from complications of extreme prematurity and an
11-year-old ballboy died in a fire three weeks ago. Players wrote
the children's names or initials on tape or sweatbands worn around
their ankles. Goodman flew in late Thursday and was with the team
on the bench.
After becoming the first Patriot League team to win an NCAA game
last year, the Bison will try Sunday to become the first to win in
the second round. They'll play top-seeded Memphis, meaning a chance
to notch another big name on their hit list.
This win was technically an upset because Bucknell was seeded
ninth in the Oakland Regional. The Razorbacks were eighth in their
first tournament trip since 2001.
"We came here for a two-game tournament," Bettencourt said.
"That's the mind-set we took. I don't think it's too big of an
Lee, the Patriot League player of the year, scored 24 points and
was 4-of-7 on 3-pointers. Bettencourt was 5-of-10 behind the line
for 18 points.
Arkansas was held to its lowest point total of the season and
its lowest in 41 NCAA tournament games, dating to 1984. The
Razorbacks had won 19 straight games in Dallas, home to their
largest alumni base, ending a roll that began in their days as a
Southwest Conference powerhouse. They also now have a four-game
NCAA losing streak, the longest in program history.
"There wasn't much we could really do," said Jonathon Modica,
who led Arkansas with 19 points.
The Razorbacks hurt themselves by going 2-of-12 on 3s and
enduring a 5-of-13 stretch at the foul line when the game got close
in the second half.