The Associated Press

CHARLOTTE, N.C. _ It seems a long time ago that Arkansas and Duke were ranked third and fourth in the preseason poll.

When the four-month season of changing No. 1s ended Monday night, Arkansas was on top at the most important time of the year.

The Razorbacks got the national championship trophy back on the road again. Since 1991 it had traveled a total of eight miles, as Duke kept it in Durham for two years and then it made its way just down the road to Chapel Hill when North Carolina won it all.

Now it will sit in brand-new Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville, a town which has proven it has some of the most rabid fans, even when they relocate to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Most championship teams have to wait a few weeks to meet the president in a White House ceremony. The Razorbacks had their first meeting with President Clinton in the locker room of the Charlotte Coliseum just minutes after they beat Duke 76-72 for the school's first national title.

But that's the kind of year it was in college basketball. Things happened fast. From preseason-No. 1 North Carolina losing its third game of the season to six different teams holding the top spot _ five in a six-week span. Two of them were Arkansas and Duke.

It was the year Glenn Robinson of Purdue dominated the player-of-the-year awards with a 30.4 scoring average. It was the year Grant Hill of Duke, Jason Kidd of California and Donyell Marshall of Connecticut all took turns as the next-best player.

It was the year one coach threatened to kill another and some coaches threatened to boycott games. It was the year Michigan's brief run as runners-up ended and Duke's Final Four appearances resumed.

It all came down to the last minute of the last game. Scotty Thurman hit a three-pointer with Antonio Lang coming right at him with 50.7 seconds to play to give Arkansas the lead for good against the Blue Devils. There were more points but no bigger shot. It made Arkansas champions and set up next season. Read Next Article