THE GAME: Arkansas (9-4) opens the home portion of its SEC schedule when No. 20 Ole Miss visits Bud Walton Arena on Wednesday, Jan. 10, for a 7 p.m. tilt. Arkansas, which is still receiving votes in each poll, is 7-2 in SEC home openers. UA lost at Mississippi State Saturday, 87-73. Ole Miss won at Vanderbilt, 81-68.
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: The Razorbacks have played the Rebels more than any other SEC member and hold a 34-12 series edge. Arkansas leads 7-3 in Fayetteville and 24-2 at neutral sites. Ole Miss leads 7-3 in Oxford.
HOGS AGAINST THE REBELS: In two career games against Ole Miss, Joe Johnson is averaging 14 points and 6.5 rebounds a game. In four games, Teddy Gipson is averaging 9.8 points, and in two games, Alonzo Lane is averaging 9.5 points and 4.5 rebounds, and Carl Baker 6.5 points.
COMMON OPPONENTS: Arkansas and Ole Miss have faced three common opponents. Ole Miss beat Louisiana-Monroe, 76-62, and Oklahoma, 60-55, in Oxford, and won at Memphis, 64-56. The Razorbacks beat Monroe, 99-59, and Memphis, 74-68, in Fayetteville, and lost in overtime at Oklahoma, 88-79.
LAST TIME OUT: Mississippi State’s front line of Tyrus Boswell, Robert Jackson and Tang Hamilton combined for 48 points and 26 rebounds to lead Mississippi State to an 87-73 win in the SEC opener for each team Saturday. The Bulldogs (9-2) had five players score in double figures, which offset a season-high 23-point performance by Jannero Pargo. Pargo kept the Razorbacks in the game for the first 26 minutes, but MSU took over midway through the second half.
RAZORBACK SPARE RIBS:
…UA’s lone senior, Brandon Davis, returned to action at Mississippi State after missing the Maryland-Eastern Shore game when he slipped on a patch of ice at his dorm, bumped his head and suffered a mild concussion.
…Sophomore forward Carl Baker has missed the last two games while resting a sore back. His status is day-to-day.
…Half of Arkansas’ shots at MSU (68) were three-pointers (34).
…The last time Arkansas lost its conference opener was 1996-97 when Ole Miss beat the Hogs in Fayetteville, 91-74. The last time UA started 0-2 in league play was the same season when Arkansas followed the Ole Miss loss with a 75-62 setback at Florida. UA went on to finish second in the Western Division that season at 8-8 and advanced to the Final Four of the NIT.
…The four games Arkansas has lost this year are the four games in which the Razorbacks have had more turnovers than assists. For the year, Arkansas is averaging 18.6 assists and 13.5 turnovers a game. In UA’s four losses, the Hogs are averaging 9.8 assists and 15.5 turnovers.
…Brandon Dean has 14 of his 23 assists in the last four games.
…Teddy Gipson has made 15 of his last 16 free throws (.938) over seven games.
…Alonzo Lane was shooting 78 percent (14-of-18) over three games before going one-of-five at Mississippi State.
…Dionisio Gomez is shooting 63 percent (12-of-19) from the floor over the last four contests.
…Larry Satchell has two blocked shots in each of the last three games and leads the team with 15 (1.2 bpg). He had 17 all of last year.
PARGO’S PERCENTAGE: Junior Jannero Pargo has been a bigger offensive threat the last few games and with good reason – he’s hitting more shots. Over the last five games, he’s the team’s leading scorer with 16.8 points per game. Over the last seven games, he’s shooting 57 percent from the field. Here’s his game-by-game breakdown over that stretch.
FREE THROW FACTOR: In the four games Arkansas has lost, the Razorbacks have been outshot by a long shot at the free throw line.
TRAIL OF THREES: With 10 three-point buckets against Mississippi State, the Razorbacks have now made at least one three-pointer in 412 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 478 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.
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
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)
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 365-147 record (.713). 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 484-184 (.725), 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.