THE GAME: Arkansas and Auburn open Southeastern Conference play in a game televised by SEC-TV.
RADIO/TV INFORMATION: The game is being broadcast on radio over the Arkansas Razorback Sports Network, which includes more than 60 affiliates. Mike Nail handles the play-by-play while former Razorback and NBA player Joe Kleine is the color analyst.
500 WINS: UA head coach Nolan Richardson became the 18th active NCAA Division I head coach with 500 career victories when the Razorbacks beat North Carolina-Greensboro, 89-74, on Dec. 10 in Fayetteville. In his 17th season at Arkansas, and his 22nd overall, he is 503-196 (.720). In 17 years at Arkansas, he is 384-159 (.707).
THE AUBURN SERIES: Arkansas leads the Auburn series 14-8 with a 9-1 advantage in Fayetteville. Auburn holds a 6-4 lead at Auburn and the series is 1-1 at neutral sites. Arkansas has won three of the last four but Auburn won the last meeting, 71-63, at Auburn last year. The Tigers have won the last three matchups played at Auburn. UA’s last win at Auburn came in 1998, 79-65.
TOUGH SCHEDULE: Arkansas’ four losses, to Oklahoma State, Illinois, Oklahoma and Wake Forest, are all to teams currently ranked in the top 25, although only Illinois and OSU, at fifth and sixth, respectively, were ranked at the time of the game.
MEMPHIS RECAP: Jannero Pargo scored 30 points, and Arkansas made 20 of 27 free throws and matched the bigger Tigers with 37 rebounds as the Razorbacks broke open a close game late for a 90-73 victory in Memphis on Wednesday. UA forced 23 turnovers and shot 48 percent while holding the Tigers to 40 percent shooting. J.J. Sullinger had 19 points, Brandon Dean 16 and Teddy Gipson 13. Pargo also had a career-high matching eight rebounds while Dean had a season-high five boards and Sullinger a season-high matching six. Dajuan Wagner led UM with 27 points while Kelly Wise had 16 points and 12 rebounds.
SEC OPENERS: Since joining the SEC for the 1992 season, Arkansas is 6-4 in league openers. In road openers, the Hogs are 3-7. In home openers, the Razorbacks are 7-3. UA has opened its conference season against Auburn just once, beating the Tigers, 110-92, in 1992. The Razorbacks have played their first SEC road game at Auburn just once, losing 101-76, in 1996.
HALF COURT VS. FULL COURT: Arkansas opened the year playing a half-court set but following the 69-54 loss to Oklahoma on Nov. 30, the Razorbacks went back to their traditional full-court pressure game. In the seven games since, Arkansas has forced 20 or more turnovers seven times, been in double figures in steals seven times, scored 90 or more points five times and won five of seven games following a 3-2 start.
ROAD WARRIORS, SORT OF: Okay, that term may be too strong, but Arkansas is 2-0 on the road this year. As per NCAA standards, the Illinois (Chicago) and Oklahoma State (Little Rock) games are considered neutral site contests, so Arkansas is 2-0 on the road with wins at Tulsa and Memphis. Going back to last year, again not counting neutral site games in the NCAA and SEC tournaments, the Razorbacks have won four straight road games (South Carolina and Alabama). The Hogs dropped their first three road games last season (OSU in Tulsa is considered a neutral site).
PARGO’S POINTS: Senior Jannero Pargo leads Arkansas with 17.5 points a game and is shooting 48.7 percent from the field, including 45.2 percent from three-point range. Forty-two of his 75 field goals this year are three-pointers.
DEAN DELIVERING: Except for a poor shooting effort against Tennessee-Chattanooga on Dec. 20 (3-9), senior guard Brandon Dean has been red hot for the last month. In UA’s five other December games, Dean made 40 of 64 shots (.625) and averaged 18.8 points a game. Even with the UTC game factored in, he was 43 of 73 from the floor (.589) and averaged 16.8 points a game.
SULLINGER’S SCORING STREAK: Freshman J.J. Sullinger recorded his seventh straight double-figure scoring game in the win at Memphis by getting 19 points. He’s averaging 12.7 points for the season and 14.7 over the last seven contests. He’s shooting 49.1 percent for the year, but during the streak, he’s made 37 of 71 shots (.521). Joe Johnson was in double figures scoring in the final 14 games of his freshman season of 1999-00.
TEDDY IN THE STARTING FIVE: Senior Teddy Gipson has started the last two games and he’s put up better numbers than he did in the previous seven when he came off the bench. As a starter, Gipson is shooting 48.8 percent from the floor (21-43), 40 percent from three-point range (6-15) and 58.3 percent at the line (14-24) while averaging 12.4 points, 2.8 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1.2 steals a game. As a reserve, he’s shooting 36.4 percent from the field (12-33), 33.3 percent from three-point (4-12) and 57.1 percent at the line (8-14) while averaging 5.1 points, 1.3 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 0.9 steals. He’s averaged playing 14.25 minutes off the bench compared to 23.6 as a starter.
…Freshman J.J. Sullinger has 30 assists and just 10 turnovers. He’s had more turnovers than assists in just one game and has played seven games without a single turnover, including the last two.
…Redshirt freshman Michael Jones has made 50 percent of his shots or better in eight straight games, going 18 of 30 from the floor for 60 percent and averaging 6.3 points over that stretch.
…Arkansas is 0-2 against ranked teams this year, losing 94-91 to No. 5 Illinois in Chicago and 85-76 to No. 6 Oklahoma State in North Little Rock. Last year, UA was 4-5 against ranked opponents.
…T.J. Cleveland has made 103 of his last 133 free throws (.774).
…Arkansas is 30-8 when Brandon Dean scores in double figures.
…Alonzo Lane has made 50 percent of his shots, or better, in 45 of 76 games.
…Of Charles Tatum’s 91 career field goals, 56 are three-pointers.
SEC PREDICTIONS: Arkansas has been picked by the media to finish second in the SEC’s Western Division behind Alabama. The Hogs received five first-place votes to 15 for the Crimson Tide. Kentucky is the pick to win the Eastern Division and the overall title ahead of Florida. The rest of the order in the West is predicted to be Ole Miss third, Auburn fourth, LSU fifth and Mississippi State sixth. In the East, Florida is followed by Tennessee, South Carolina, Georgia and Vanderbilt.
CONSECUTIVE POST-SEASON APPEARANCES: With last year’s selection to the NCAA Tournament, the Razorbacks made their 15th consecutive national tournament appearance. Over the last 15 years, Arkansas has played in the NCAAs 13 times and the NIT twice. Over that stretch, the NCAA years include 2001, 2000, 1999, 1998, 1996, 1995, 1994, 1993, 1992, 1991, 1990, 1989 and 1988. The NIT seasons were 1997 and 1987.
TRAIL OF THREES: With eight three-pointers against Memphis, the Razorbacks have now made at least one three-pointer in 442 consecutive games. UA made at least one trey in every game it played in the 1990s.
STARTING LINEUP: Your guess is probably as good as anyone else’s. In 2000, head coach Nolan Richardson used 22 different starting combinations in 34 games. Every player started at least once. In 31 games in 2001, 19 different lineups took the floor. Richardson has long been known for shuffling his starting lineup. In fact, at Western Texas Junior College, Richardson would hold coin flips to see who would get the starting nod.
Arkansas’ Game-By-Game Starting Lineups
Maine (11-12): Gipson, Pargo, Dean, Lane, Gomez
Wake Forest (11-16): Gipson, Tatum, Dean, Lane, Gomez
ORU (11-18): Gipson, Pargo, Sullinger, Satchell, Gomez
Tulsa (11-28): Dean, Pargo, Sullinger, Satchell, Gomez
OU (11-30): Dean, Pargo, Sullinger, Lane, Gomez
SWT (12-4): Dean, Pargo, Sullinger, Satchell, Gomez
Illinois (12-8): Dean, Pargo, Sullinger, Satchell, Gomez
UNCG (12-10): Dean, Pargo, Sullinger, Satchell, Gomez
UTC (12-20): Dean, Pargo, Sullinger, Satchell, Gomez
OSU (12-22): Dean, Pargo, Sullinger, Satchell, Gomez
Elon (12-29): Dean, Pargo, Gipson, Jordan, Gomez
Memphis (1-2): Dean, Pargo, Gipson, Jordan, Gomez
Records for Starting Combinations:
Gipson, Pargo, Dean, Lane, Gomez: 1-0 (Maine)
Gipson, Tatum, Dean, Lane, Gomez: 0-1 (Wake Forest)
Gipson, Pargo, Sullinger, Satchell, Gomez: 1-0 (ORU)
Dean, Pargo, Sullinger, Satchell, Gomez: 4-2 (Tulsa, SWT, Illinois, UNCG, UTC, OSU)
Dean, Pargo, Sullinger, Lane, Gomez: 0-1 (OU)
Dean, Pargo, Gipson, Jordan, Gomez: 2-0 (Elon, Memphis)
PRESEASON HONORS & PREDICTIONS: Jannero Pargo has been named to preseason All-SEC teams selected by The Sporting News (second) and by Lindy’s Basketball (third).
MEDIA SERVICES: UA Coach Nolan Richardson usually holds press briefings two days prior to each game at 2 p.m. in Bud Walton Arena’s interview room. Players are also available on those days prior to the start of practice. A transcript of Richardson’s press conferences is available on UA’s official web site, hogwired.com. Game notes are available through media teamlink.