FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - The Arkansas Razorback men's basketball team will participate in the SEC/Big East Invitational for the first time in 2010, taking on the Seton Hall Pirates at Freedom Hall in Louisville, Ky., on Wednesday, Dec. 8, at 6 p.m.
The three-year old event which pits the Southeastern Conference against the Big East Conference has seen nearly every member of each conference participate and the 2010 event showcases five teams, Arkansas and all four Big East schools, playing in the event for the first time. Along with Arkansas and Seton Hall, Kentucky faces Notre Dame, also at Freedom Hall on Dec. 8, while Rutgers faces Auburn and Pittsburgh plays Tennessee at CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh on Dec. 11.
"The SEC/Big East invitational has been very competitive over the past three seasons and we are looking forward to being a part of it this year," Arkansas head coach John Pelphrey said. "Seton Hall is a very good basketball program with a lot of tradition and having an opportunity to play a quality team like that during our non-conference schedule will help us as we move on to SEC play."
Arkansas and Seton Hall will be meeting for the first time in their respective histories. The Razorbacks and Pirates have participated in six common NCAA Tournament fields, dating back to 1987-88, but never found themselves facing each other.
The Razorbacks are coming off a year where they challenged for the SEC Western Division Championship late into the conference schedule and return three starters to the court including one of the top shooters in the nation in Rotnei Clarke and a freshman All-American in Marshawn Powell. Arkansas' returning starters accounted for 43.8 percent of the Razorbacks' points last season and 32.5 percent of the rebounds.
Seton Hall was 19-13 last season and 9-9 in Big East competition and have a new head coach in Kevin Willard. The Pirates return their top four scorers from a year ago including senior guard Jeremy Hazell who averaged more than 20 points per game and also bring back leading rebounder Herb Pope, a 6-8 junior, who averaged 11.5 points and 10.7 rebounds a year ago.