THE GAME: Arkansas (9-6, 0-3) plays host to Auburn in a Southeastern Conference Western Division showdown. Auburn (11-5, 1-2) is coming off an 85-69 win over LSU while Arkansas is looking for its first conference win. UA’s last two opponents, Vanderbilt and Auburn, picked up their first conference win against LSU prior to their game with Arkansas.
RADIO/TV INFORMATION: Twenty-two of UA’s games are being televised this season while each game will be broadcast on radio on the Arkansas Razorback Sports Network. The radio network consists of more than 70 affiliates with Mike Nail handling play-by-play and former Razorback and recent NBA retiree Joe Kleine the color commentary.
THE SERIES: Arkansas leads the series 13-7 with an 8-1 lead in Fayetteville. Auburn leads 5-4 in Auburn and the series is even at 1-1 at neutral sites. The Razorbacks have won eight of the last 10 meetings and six straight in Fayetteville.
HOGS AGAINST THE TIGERS: In five career games against the Tigers, junior Brandon Dean is averaging 12.2 points while fellow junior Teddy Gipson is scoring 8.6 per meeting. In two games last year, Joe Johnson averaged 17.0 points and 8.0 rebounds. Brandon Davis is averaging 5.0 points in five games and T.J. Cleveland 5.0 points in four games.
LAST TIME OUT: Arkansas turned up the defensive pressure, but Vanderbilt weathered an early storm and got hot from the three-point line to beat the Hogs, 81-64, Saturday in Nashville. Turnovers helped the Razorbacks take a 14-8 lead with 15 minutes left in the first half, but Arkansas scored just seven more points the rest of the half and trailed 31-21 at the break.
THE LAST MEETING WITH AUBURN: In the championship game of the Southeastern Conference Tournament, Brandon Dean scored 22 points and was named tourney MVP after leading Arkansas to the championship with a 75-67 win over No. 23 Auburn in the finals.
THE LAST MEETING IN FAYETTEVILLE: Last year on Senior Day and in front of a national CBS television audience, Arkansas upset 13th-ranked Auburn to assure the Razorbacks of at the least an invitation to the NIT.
LOST LEADS: In four of Arkansas’ six losses this year, the Razorbacks had sizeable leads in the first and second half, but failed to hold the lead at the end. The chart below shows UA’s largest first- and second-half leads in those games, and the final score.
SLOW STARTS IN CONFERENCE PLAY: Arkansas is in an unfamiliar situation at 0-3 in Southeastern Conference play. Since joining the SEC for the 1991-92 season, the Razorbacks have never started 0-3 in league play.
PARGO’S POINTS: Junior guard Jannero Pargo is establishing himself as UA’s go-to player. In the three SEC games, he’s the team’s leading scorer with 17.3 points a game, more than double the next-best average, Joe Johnson and Teddy Gipson’s 8.0 averages. Over the last five games, he leads the club with 15.8 points a game. For the season, he’s second on the team (to Johnson’s 13.6 ppg) with 11.8 points per contest. He’s scored in double figures in seven of the last eight games.
RAZORBACK SPARE RIBS:
…Sophomore forward Carl Baker has missed the last four games while resting a sore back. His status is day-to-day.
…Junior guard T.J. Cleveland played well at Vanderbilt, scoring a season-high 14 points and matching his season high with five rebounds.
…Sophomore forward Larry Satchell had a season-high seven rebounds and blocked three shots in only 14 minutes at Vanderbilt.
…Sophomore guard Blake Eddins has made just two of his last 11 shots over three games.
…In the Mississippi State and Ole Miss games, Joe Johnson, who missed the Vanderbilt contest, was a combined six-of-21 from the field.
…Satchell and junior forward Dionisio Gomez both have at least one blocked shot in each of the last five games and they each have a total of 10 over that stretch.
TRAIL OF THREES: With 10 three-point buckets against Vanderbilt, the Razorbacks have now made at least one three-pointer in 414 consecutive games. Arkansas made at least one trey in every game it played during the 1990s. The last time UA failed to make a three-pointer was in a 99-92 win at Texas in January 1989, and the Hogs attempted just two three-pointers in that contest. Arkansas has played 480 games since the three-pointer was added to college basketball and failed to make a three in only six games. UA won each of those six games.
STARTING LINEUP: Your guess is probably as good as anyone else’s. Last year, head coach Nolan Richardson used 22 different starting combinations in 34 games. Every player started at least once.
Arkansas’ Game-By-Game Starting Lineups
Tennessee St. (11-17): Johnson, Gipson, Lane, Dean, Pargo
Southern Miss. (11-18): Johnson, Gipson, Baker, Lane, Pargo
Jackson St. (11-22): Johnson, Gipson, Baker, Eddins, Cleveland
La.-Monroe (11-25): Johnson, Gipson, Baker, Eddins, Cleveland
Centenary (11-28): Johnson, Gipson, Baker, Eddins, Cleveland
Memphis (12-2): Johnson, Gipson, Lane, Eddins, Cleveland
North Texas (12-5): Johnson, Gipson, Lane, Eddins, Cleveland
Oklahoma St. (12-9): Johnson, Gipson, Lane, Dean, Cleveland
Northwestern St. (12-20): Johnson, Pargo, Baker, Gomez, Cleveland
Oklahoma (12-23): Johnson, Pargo, Baker, Gomez, Cleveland
Grambling (12-31): Davis, Eddins, Lane, Gomez, Tatum
Maryland-Eastern Shore (1-2): Johnson, Gomez, Lane, Gipson, Tatum
Mississippi St. (1-6): Johnson, Gomez, Lane, Gipson, Pargo
Ole Miss (1-10): Johnson, Gomez, Lane, Dean, Pargo
Vanderbilt (1-13): Davis, Gomez, Lane, Cleveland, Pargo
Records For Starting Combinations
Johnson, Gipson, Lane, Dean, Pargo: 1-0 (TSU)
Johnson, Gipson, Baker, Lane, Pargo: 0-1 (USM)
Johnson, Gipson, Baker, Eddins, Cleveland: 3-0 (JSU, ULM, CC)
Johnson, Gipson, Lane, Eddins, Cleveland: 2-0 (Memphis, UNT)
Johnson, Gipson, Lane, Dean, Cleveland: 0-1 (OSU)
Johnson, Pargo, Baker, Gomez, Cleveland: 1-1 (NSU, OU)
Davis, Eddins, Lane, Gomez, Tatum: 1-0 (GSU)
Johnson, Gomez, Lane, Gipson, Tatum: 1-0 (UMES)
Johnson, Gomez, Lane, Gipson, Pargo: 0-1 (MSU)
Johnson, Gomez, Lane, Dean, Pargo: 0-1 (UM)
Davis, Gomez, Lane, Cleveland, Pargo: 0-1 (VU)
ALMOST EVERYBODY IS BACK: Head coach Nolan Richardson returns 11 of 12 lettermen and four of five starters from last year’s team which won the SEC Tournament, finished 19-15 and earned an NCAA Tournament bid. Of the 11 returnees, only one, Brandon Davis, is a senior. Four are juniors (T.J. Cleveland, Brandon Dean, Teddy Gipson and Dionisio Gomez). Although Gomez has played just one year, he is a junior. A partial qualifier when he entered school, if he graduates in four years, he will earn a fourth year of eligibility. Six returnees are sophomores (Carl Baker, Blake Eddins, Joe Johnson, Alonzo Lane, Larry Satchell and Charles Tatum). This veteran group is joined by a trio of newcomers: junior Jannero Pargo, freshman Michael Jones and redshirt freshman Carter Clark.
PRESEASON PREDICTIONS: Several publications have listed Arkansas in their preseason rankings. Here are just a few:
SEC PREDICTIONS: Following Southeastern Conference Media Days in Birmingham, Ala., on Nov. 1-2, Arkansas was picked to win the Western Division ahead of Alabama, Mississippi State, Auburn, LSU and Ole Miss. Sophomore preseason All-American Joe Johnson was also named the league’s preseason Player of the Year.
HEAD COACH NOLAN RICHARDSON: Head coach Nolan Richardson is in his 16th season as head coach at Arkansas and he owns a 365-150 record (.709). He is the school’s all-time leader in victories and has led the Razorbacks to three Final Four appearances (1990, 1994, 1995) and the 1994 national championship. The 1963 graduate of Texas-El Paso has led UA into the NCAA Tournament 12 times, all in the last 13 years. The Hogs have made 14 straight postseason appearances under Richardson, including advancing to the Elite Eight in 1991, and the Sweet Sixteen in 1993 and 1996. His teams are 26-11 (.703) in NCAA Tournament play.
RICHARDSON OVERALL: In his 21st year of head coaching, Nolan Richardson is 484-187 (.721), including 16 years at UA and five at Tulsa. The only coach to ever lead teams to an NCAA championship (Arkansas, 1994), an NIT title (Tulsa, 1981) and a national junior college championship (Western Texas, 1980), entering the season, his winning percentage ranked ninth among all active Division I coaches.