12/20 - 7:00 PM
WBB vs Tennessee Tech
12/28 - 2:00 PM
WBB vs Mississippi Valley State
01/02 - 7:00 PM
WBB vs SOUTH CAROLINA
01/05 - 2:00 PM
WBB at MISSOURI
01/09 - 6:00 PM
WBB at FLORIDA
01/12 - 2:00 PM
WBB vs MISSISSIPPI STATE
01/16 - 6:00 PM
WBB at GEORGIA
01/19 - 2:00 PM
WBB vs OLE MISS
01/26 - 12:00 PM
WBB at KENTUCKY
01/30 - 6:00 PM
WBB at TENNESSEE
02/02 - 2:00 PM
WBB vs AUBURN
02/06 - 7:00 PM
WBB vs FLORIDA
02/09 - 1:00 PM
WBB at SOUTH CAROLINA
02/13 - 7:00 PM
WBB vs ALABAMA
02/20 - 7:00 PM
WBB vs VANDERBILT
COLLEGE STATION, Texas – By design or by luck, the NCAA Women’s Basketball selection committee set up the University of Arkansas with a bracket that provided a host of story lines this week.
Arkansas (24-8) faced Dayton in the first round, reuniting assistant coach Nicki Collen with former Marquette (her alma mater) coach Jim Jabir. Jabir and Arkansas head coach Tom Collen are long-time friends.
In the second round, the Razorbacks face former Arkansas head coach Gary Blair and a host of former staff members.
Texas A&M joins Missouri and both enter the Southeastern Conference next season.
Should Arkansas advance into the Sweet 16, the Razorbacks could face a possible matchup with Louisville, the program Collen was at prior to returning to Arkansas.
But the only storyline that matters on Monday when the Razorbacks take on Texas A&M at 8:30 p.m. in College Station, Texas, is the players.
“I’ve learned a lot of things over the years from Gary Blair,” Collen said. “I have a lot of respect for him. A lot will be said about this game but the bottom line is that it is up to his players and my players to go out on the court and get it done.”
Arkansas played an interesting game with Dayton in the opening round Saturday. The Flyers came out on fire early and were faster and more physical than expected. The Razorbacks had to shake off nerves and regroup from a 14-point first half deficit tying the game at the half. Arkansas’ defense stepped up and the Razorbacks notched a 72-55 win in the first round.
The Razorbacks have relied heavily on senior leadership all season and those same players stepped up again in the Dayton game. But also noticeable was the play of sophomore Keira Peak and junior Quistelle Williams.
Williams, the first player to sign with Arkansas from the state of Michigan, led the team with season-best 15 points and seven rebounds. Peak added 14 and five boards.
Senior Ashley Daniels grabbed 12 rebounds leading the team while Lyndsay Harris had 14 points and C'eira Ricketts added 13 for the Razorbacks.
But that is in the past and Arkansas must now look ahead to the defending national champion Texas A&M Aggies (23-10). Leading scorer Tyra White missed the previous three games with a foot injury but returned with a vengeance Saturday scoring 18 points to lead the team.
“Texas A&M hits the board really hard,” Collen said. “They hold their ground forever under the basket until the ball comes down. That’s hard for us to battle. Their size and depth inside will challenge us and that could be a factor in the game.”
In addition to a talented Aggie team, Arkansas will battle a tough, loud and large crowd at Reed Arena.
"We are definitely not new to playing in front of the big crowds,” Harris said. “We have played in hostile environments like Tennessee and Kentucky so it’s not new. We like playing in front of big crowds and we are looking forward to it.”
Arkansas and Texas A&M are scheduled for an 8:30 p.m. tip Monday with the winner advancing to the Sweet 16. The game is scheduled to air on ESPN2. Check local listing for more information.