FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – A trip to Puerto Rico, a visit by two-time defending national champion Florida plus five other games against NCAA Tournament qualifiers and 10 games against teams earning NIT bids highlight the 2007-08 Arkansas Razorback basketball schedule, which was released on Tuesday.
In addition to 15 games against post-season tournament teams from last year, first-year head coach John Pelphrey’s non-conference schedule includes six games against teams coming off overall or divisional conference championships. Depending on the opponents in the O’Reilly ESPNU Puerto Rico Tip-Off, the number of games against post-season tournament teams could reach 17.
Counting the entire field in Puerto Rico, 16 of Arkansas’ 27 opponents were ranked in the top 100 of last year’s final RPI rankings, 22 were ranked among the top 120 and 26 were ranked among the top 185.
“Our schedule is obviously very, very challenging,” head coach John Pelphrey says. “When you play in the SEC, all conference games are difficult and important. Arkansas has traditionally played one of the better non-conference schedules in the country and this year is no different. The road game at Oklahoma, the home game against Missouri, the neutral site game against Baylor, the tournament in Puerto Rico and the SEC games may be the highlights, but teams like ORU, Northwestern State, Appalachian State, Missouri State and Delaware State are coming off some form of conference championship or a post-season tournament, or both.”
The Hogs open the season at home on Friday, Nov. 9, with a 7:05 contest against Wofford.
Arkansas follows with the O’Reilly ESPNU Puerto Rico Tip-Off in San Juan. The Razorbacks are part of a field including Virginia Commonwealth, which went 28-7 last year, won the Colonial Athletic Association and reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament after upsetting Duke in the first round; Providence, which went 18-13 and earned an NIT bid; Houston, which finished 18-15 and is coached by former Texas head coach Tom Penders; the College of Charleston, which was 22-11 and is coached by former Georgia Tech head coach Bobby Cremins; and Marist, which went 25-9 and reached the second round of the NIT, but lost to Arkansas in the Old Spice Classic, 73-64. The other teams are Temple (12-18) and Miami (12-20).
The Razorbacks face the College of Charleston in the first round on Thursday, Nov. 15, at 4 p.m. and play either Providence or Temple in Friday’s second round.
Arkansas returns home from San Juan to face defending Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference champion and NIT participant Delaware State (21-13) on Nov. 24. Missouri (18-12) and head coach Mike Anderson visit Bud Walton Arena on Nov. 28, followed by home games against Oral Roberts (23-11) , which won the Mid Continent Conference championship last year and played in the NCAA Tournament, on Dec. 1; and Missouri State (22-11), which earned a spot in the NIT, on Dec. 3.
After a home game against Texas-San Antonio on Dec. 12, the Razorbacks play at Oklahoma (16-15) on Dec. 15.
Northwestern (La.) State (17-15), which won the Southland Conference’s East Division in 2007 and reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament in 2006, visits Fayetteville on Dec. 19 before UA faces defending Southern Conference North Division champion and NIT participant Appalachian State (25-8) in North Little Rock on Dec. 22.
Louisiana-Monroe (18-14), which tied for the Sun Belt Conference’s West Division title, plays in Bud Walton Arena on Dec. 29 before Arkansas wraps up its non-conference schedule with a game against Baylor (15-16) in Dallas on Jan. 5.
The Razorbacks open Southeastern Conference play at Auburn (17-15) on Jan. 10 before playing host to Alabama (20-12), which played in the NIT, on Jan. 13 and South Carolina (14-16) on Jan. 16. Following trips to Georgia (19-14), which reached the second round of the NIT, and LSU (17-15), Arkansas entertains Mississippi State (21-14), which reached the semifinals of the NIT, on Jan. 30, defending national champion Florida (35-5) on Feb. 2 and Ole Miss (21-13), which advanced to the second round of the NIT, on Feb. 9.
The Hogs go to Tennessee (24-11), which advanced to the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16, and MSU before returning home to face LSU on Feb. 20.
Trips to Kentucky (22-12), another NCAA Tournament team, and Alabama precede the March 1 home game against Vanderbilt (22-12), which also advanced to the Sweet 16.
UA closes the regular season at Ole Miss on March 4 and at home against Auburn on March 8.
The SEC Tournament is March 13-16 in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. NCAA Tournament first and second round dates are March 20 and 22, and March 21 and 23.
Last year’s final RPI rankings for this year’s opponents are Florida at No. 6, Tennessee at No. 12, Kentucky No. 13, Missouri State No. 36, VCU 44, Vanderbilt 46, Alabama 49, Ole Miss 58, Appalachian State 59, Georgia 64, Mississippi State 65, Providence 76, Houston 83, ORU 90, LSU 91, Missouri 93, Oklahoma 102, Marist 104, South Carolina 109, Auburn 113, College of Charleston 114, Delaware State 120, Baylor 141, Miami 157, Northwestern State 167 and Temple 182.
“Your schedule is broken up into different areas,” Pelphrey says. “In the non-conference portion, you want to do as well as you can and challenge yourself. In conference, you want to play your best, and then you have the post-season. Our team will have to be mentally tough to meet those challenges.”
All five starters and nine lettermen return from last year’s 21-14 Razorback squad which won the Old Spice Classic in Orlando, reached the finals of the SEC Tournament and earned an NCAA Tournament bid for the second straight season.
The top returnees are seniors Gary Ervin (9.9 ppg, 4.8 assists), a two-time SEC Player of the Week last year; Steven Hill (6.2 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 2.8 blocks), last year’s SEC Defensive Player of the Year who enters his final season 10th on the SEC’s career blocked shots list with 244; Charles Thomas (10.7 ppg, 5.7 rpg), who needs 165 points to reach 1,000 for his career, and 176 rebounds and 57 free throws to move into the school’s top 10 in those categories; Darian Townes (8.1 ppg, 4.3 rpg), who needs just 107 points to reach 1,000 for his career and 158 rebounds to reach UA’s top 10; Sonny Weems, who was named to the SEC Tournament and Old Spice Classic all-tournament teams; and sophomore Patrick Beverley (13.9 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 3.1 assists), last year’s SEC newcomer and freshman of the year who led the USA Basketball U19 team to a second-place finish at the FIBA World Championships by leading the U.S. in scoring (13.0), steals (3.4) and assists (3.2).
Pelphrey was named head coach on April 9 after leading South Alabama to regular season and conference tournament championships in the last two years, and NCAA Tournament and NIT appearances. His 2006 team recorded the best turnaround in the nation, improving from 10-18 in 2005 to 24-7. Despite losing the top three scorers off that team, his 2007 squad went 20-12, won the Sun Belt Conference regular season title and earned a spot in the NIT.
2007-08 Razorback Basketball Schedule
Date Opponent TV LocationTime
Friday, Oct. 26 Red-White Game Fayetteville, Ark. 7:05 p.m.
Friday, Nov. 2 West Florida (exh) Fayetteville, Ark. 7:05 p.m.
Tuesday, Nov. 6 Campbellsville (exh) Fayetteville, Ark. 7:05 p.m.
Friday, Nov. 9 Wofford Fayetteville, Ark. 7:05 p.m.
Thur-Sun, Nov. 15-18 O’Reilly ESPNU Puerto Rico Tip-Off San Juan, Puerto Rico TBA
(Arkansas, College of Charleston, Houston, Marist, Miami, Providence, Temple, Virginia Commonwealth)
Thursday, Nov. 15College of Charleston ESPNU San Juan, Puerto Rico 4 p.m.
Friday, Nov. 16 Providence or Temple ESPNU San Juan, Puerto Rico4:30 or 7 p.m.
Sunday, Nov. 18 TBAESPNU/2 San Juan, Puerto Rico TBA
Saturday, Nov. 24 Delaware St. Fayetteville, Ark. 2:05 p.m.
Wednesday, Nov. 28 Missouri ARSN Fayetteville, Ark. 7:05 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 1 Oral Roberts Fayetteville, Ark. 2:05 p.m.
Monday, Dec. 3 Missouri St. FSN Fayetteville, Ark. 7:05 p.m.
Wednesday, Dec. 12 Texas-San Antonio ARSN Fayetteville, Ark. 7:05 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 15at Oklahoma ESPN2 Norman, Okla. 2 p.m.
Wednesday, Dec. 19 Northwestern St. ARSN Fayetteville, Ark. 7:05 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 22#vs. Appalachian St. ARSN North Little Rock, Ark. 2:05 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 29 Louisiana-Monroe ARSN Fayetteville, Ark. 2:05 p.m.
Saturday, Jan. 5 &vs. Baylor ARSN Dallas, Texas TBA
Thursday, Jan. 10*at Auburn ESPN Auburn, Ala. 8 p.m.
Sunday, Jan. 13 *Alabama LFS Fayetteville, Ark.12:35 or 3:05 p.m.
Wednesday, Jan. 16 *South Carolina Fayetteville, Ark. 7:05 p.m.
Saturday, Jan. 19 *at Georgia FSN Athens, Ga. 6:05 p.m.
Saturday, Jan. 26 *at LSUESPN Classic Baton Rouge, La. 8 p.m.
Wednesday, Jan. 30 *Mississippi St. LFS Fayetteville, Ark. 7:05 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 2 *Florida LFS Fayetteville, Ark. 2:05 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 9 *Ole MissFSN/SS Fayetteville, Ark. 4:05 p.m.
Wednesday, Feb. 13 *at Tennessee LFS Knoxville, Tenn. 7:05 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 16*at Mississippi St.ESPN Starkville, Miss. 3 p.m.
Wednesday, Feb. 20 *LSU LFS Fayetteville, Ark. 7:05 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 23*at Kentucky CBS Lexington, Ky. 1:05 p.m.
Wednesday, Feb. 27 *at Alabama LFS Tuscaloosa, Ala. 7:05 p.m.
Saturday, March 1 *Vanderbilt LFS Fayetteville, Ark. 3:05 p.m.
Tuesday, March 4*at Ole Miss ESPN Oxford, Miss. 8 p.m.
Saturday, March 8 *Auburn Fayetteville, Ark. 2:05 p.m.
Thur-Sun, March 13-16 SEC Tournament LFS Atlanta, Ga. TBA
March 20 & 22 NCAA 1st and 2nd Rnd CBS Anaheim, Calif.TBA
CBS Denver, Colo. TBA
CBS Omaha, Neb. TBA
CBS Washington, D.C. TBA
March 21 & 23 NCAA 1st and 2nd Rnd CBS Birmingham, Ala.TBA
CBS North Little Rock, Ark.TBA
CBS Raleigh, N.C.TBA
CBS Tampa, Fla.TBA
March 27 & 29 NCAA Regionals CBS Charlotte, N.C.TBA
CBS Phoenix, Ariz.TBA
March 28 & 30 NCAA Regionals CBS Detroit, Mich.TBA
CBS Houston, Texas TBA
April 5 & 7 NCAA Final Four CBS San Antonio, Texas TBA
Fayetteville games in bold
ARSN – Arkansas Razorback Sports Network
# – game played in Alltel Arena
& – game played at American Airlines Center
* – Southeastern Conference game
LFS – Lincoln Financial Sports
All times central and subject to change