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#24 Arkansas hosts SFA in Hot Springs at 6 p.m. Wednesday

BY ANDRES FOCIL
#24 Arkansas hosts SFA in Hot Springs at 6 p.m. Wednesday

ABOUT THE LADY RAZORBACKS: New is the word for the 2006-07 edition of the Arkansas Lady Razorbacks as six newcomers join three returning starters from last season and seven returning athletes. Amped-up defense drives a new-look offense as head coach Susie Gardner blends the best of the old world with a fresh group of faces. Four seniors led by fifth-year veteran Sarah Pfeifer provide the leadership while the five rookies are led by Kodak JUCO All-American Lauren Ervin.

ABOUT THE LADYJACKS: Stephen F. Austin arrives in Hot Springs as the favorite to win the Southland Conference, but fresh from a date with UALR on Tuesday night. The Ladyjacks are led by Charity Egenti (13.3 ppg, 8.7 rpg) and Nikki Carr (12.7 ppg, 5.6 rpg). SFA has a tight rotation with four players starting all 10 of the games to date, and only seven players touching the court in the first ten games.

VAUGHN NAMED SEC PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Junior point guard Brittney Vaughn was named SEC Player of the Week for Dec. 18. Vaughn averaged 9.5 ppg and 12 apg as Arkansas won back-to-back games in its first week back in the Associated Press Top 25. Vaughn also reached a Arkansas milestone that week with the third straight double-digit assist game. With SMU, Vaughn had her first double-double of her career with 12 points and 10 assists. She backed it up with a near double with nine rebounds and a career high 14 assists at Tulsa.

VAUGHN’S REWARD — HIP POINTER: Brittney Vaughn played only 10 minutes against Memphis. The day she was named SEC Player of the Week, Vaughn took a tumble early against the Lady Tigers, and while she briefly returned to the game after falling on her left hip she was unable to finish the game missing the entire second half. She is a game-day decision for SFA.

COMPARISON SCHEDULES: SFA and Arkansas share some common foes. The Lady’Backs swept SMU and Tulsa while SFA split, losing at home to SMU but defeating Tulsa.

NO SMALL EFFORT: Among SFA’s seven early wins are victories over Louisiana Tech on Nov. 17, 65-55, and at Southern Miss, 69-62, on Nov. 12.

GARDNER ADDS TO MILESTONE: The 12-1 record is now the best start for Susie Gardner at Arkansas. Her previous fast start was her second season at 10-1.

IT IS TIME TO SPEAK OF RECORDS: The 2006-07 team has tied the second-best start in school history — a 12-1 start in 1996-97 — with the win at Memphis. The 31st edition can tie the all-time mark of 13-1 set by the 1995-96 team with the game against Stephen F. Austin. This year’s Lady’Backs equaled the best start through 10 games with the win over TSU. There have been five other teams reach this level, including Susie Gardner’s second team at Arkansas in 2004-05.

DON’T GET TOO HAPPY: It should be noted that the two teams with the previous best starts didn’t exactly finish. The 1995-96 team went on a five-game losing streak after the 13-1, went 3-8 in SEC play to tie for 10th and finished the season at the last-ever NWIT in Amarillo, Texas. The 1996-97 team did better in league play at 5-7 for seventh, but was famously left out of the NCAA tournament on the ESPN selection show.

TV TIME FOR ARKANSAS: The SFA game is the first of two games produced by Cox Sports for the Lady Razorbacks. It will air same day delayed in the Cox Sports Arkansas market at 9:30 p.m. Wednesday night, and will replay again on Thursday. The other game is at Auburn, and will be live. Lady Razorback TV and Hog Tails host Blair Cartwright will provide the play-by-play and former four-time all-SEC guard Kimberly Wilson Jenkins will handle color commentary. This is also the first of back-to-back TV games for Arkansas as the Lady’Backs’ next contest, versus Cincinnati at Walton Arena, will be a tape-delay production on local Fox affiliate KFTA.

ONLY TWO HAVE STARTED EVERY GAME: And it remains to be seen if Brittney Vaughn can stay with Lauren Ervin as the only Lady’Backs to start every game for Arkansas this season. Vaughn is coming off a hip pointer at Memphis. Of course, Ervin stayed in the lineup in spite of a serious finger injury in Hawai’i.

DEFENSE RULES AGAIN: Arkansas held Memphis to a season-low 25% from the field. It started with the Lady’Backs forcing five turnovers and nine missed field goals from the Lady Tigers in the first seven minutes of the game — the longest time to hold an opponent scoreless to date.

FORD DRIVES AGAIN: For the second straight game, Charity Ford was far from being the quiet freshman as she turned in another career scoring game with 15 points at Memphis to lead the team in scoring. Ford was crucial defensively, but her offense was even more important as her 15 points came at timely points during the game.

CRASH TEST SAYS FORD: For the third straight game, an opponent point guard goes up against Charity Ford and comes away the loser. At Memphis, Se’erra Fantroy had only four points and three assists. Fantroy is the third straight PG with a negative assist-to-turnover ratio, with 3 assists to 4 turnovers — 0.75:1. As a team, Memphis was 0.5:1 (9 assists, 18 turnovers).

AT THE SUMMIT: This game marks the third appearance by the Lady Razorbacks at The Summit Arena in Hot Springs, and Arkansas is perfect at the venue. The Lady’Backs won their first game at The Summit in 2003 in a homecoming game for Hot Springs native Shameka Christon against Northwestern State, 78-64. Arkansas returned to Hot Springs last year with a 75-40 win over Nicholls State.

SOUTHLAND SUMMIT: Just coincidence, but every team Arkansas has faced in Hot Springs is a member of the Southland Conference.

CENTRAL ARKANSAS GAMES: The current tradition of an annual game in central Arkansas began in 1999-2000 with the opening of ALLTEL Arena in North Little Rock. The Lady’Backs had played games in central Arkansas prior to the 1999 contest with Memphis, but that contest began the current eight-year run of games. Most have been at ALLTEL, with The Summit Arena in Hot Springs opening in 2003 and becoming a part of the rotation. Arkansas’ only loss during this time was the 1999 Memphis game, an 88-82 upset.

VERSUS SFA: Arkansas leads the series, 6-3, and is the winner of the last four meetings. This is the second neutral court meeting with the Ladyjacks. The last time that happened, Arkansas had a Kodak All-America center that led the Lady’Backs to the NCAA Elite Eight — the 1990 NCAA West Regional. Only one player remains with Arkansas from the last meeting — no, not Sarah Pfeifer. Pfeifer had already torn her shoulder (third game of the season) and was out for the year. The answer is Danielle Allen, who came off the bench with three points and three rebounds.

LAST TIME WITH SFA: Everyone named Kristin and Christon came up big at SFA. Kristin Peoples tied her career best with 13 and Kristin Moore had her first double-double with career highs of 16 points and 13 rebounds off the bench. Shameka Christon added 25 points to lead scorers as Arkansas controlled the second half. A back-and-forth start allowed SFA to lead 38-34 at half. The main drama came as senior Shanna Harmon was taken from the court with a back injury which halted play in the first half.

HEY, WE KNOW YOU: Taqueta Braxton is an assistant coach for Stephen F. Austin. Lady’Back fans remember her by her maiden name, Taqueta Roberson. Bit of irony as former teammates Roberson and Kimberly Wilson Jenkins get to reunite Wednesday. Jenkins is doing color for the Lady’Backs’ TV broadcast on Cox.

NEVER-NEVERS: So far this year, Arkansas is undefeated when it holds the opponent under 60 (9-0), leads at halftime (10-0) and holding the opponent under 40% from the field (9-0).

UP ONE NOTCH IN THE AP POLL: Arkansas moved up one spot to 24th, taking over for Texas that fell out of the rankings this week. The Lady’Backs solidified their vote total as well, moving to over 100 points.



Sports Category : Basketball (W)