THE GAME: Arkansas (9-5, 0-2) plays on the road in the SEC for the second time in three games with Saturday’s 3 p.m. date at Vanderbilt. UA has dropped its first two conference games while the Commodores (11-3) evened their league mark at 1-1 with Wednesday’s 71-67 win at LSU.
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 lead the Vanderbilt series 7-5 but Vandy holds a 4-1 edge in Nashville. UA leads 5-1 at Fayetteville and 1-0 at neutral sites.
HOGS AGAINST THE COMMODORES: In two career games against VU, Teddy Gipson is averaging 12.5 points and Brandon Dean 7.5 points per game. In the one meeting with Vanderbilt last year, Blake Eddins scored his season high of 16 points while Joe Johnson had 15, and Alonzo Lane 12 points and eight rebounds.
LAST TIME OUT: No. 20 Ole Miss held Arkansas to the fewest points its scored in a Southeastern Conference game and the fewest its scored in Bud Walton Arena in knocking off the Razorbacks, 53-48. UA held Ole Miss to 35 percent shooting, held a 42-38 rebounding edge and led most of the game, but the Razorbacks made just 10-of-21 free throws and had 16 turnovers. Alonzo Lane scored a season-high 17 points but had little help with no other Hog scoring in double figures. Brandon Dean and Jannero Pargo scored nine each. Dionisio Gomez had eight rebounds and a career-high four blocked shots in 12 minutes. David Sanders led the Rebels with 12 points.
LANE IN THE LANE: Sophomore forward Alonzo Lane stepped up in the 53-48 loss to No. 20 Ole Miss. He played a season-high 31 minutes and scored a season-high 17 points on six-of-10 shooting. Lane was just one-for-five from the field at Mississippi State, but in the last five games, he’s 21-of-33 for a team-high percentage of .636. He’s averaging 9.6 points over that stretch.
GOMEZ’S PROGRESS: Although he didn’t score against Ole Miss, junior Dionisio Gomez had a career-high four blocked shots and matched his season high of eight rebounds against the Rebels, all in only 12 minutes of playing time.
SEC STATS: In SEC games only, junior Jannero Pargo is UA’s leading scorer with 16 points a game followed by Alonzo Lane (9.5), Brandon Dean (8.5) and Joe Johnson (8.0). Dionisio Gomez is the top rebounder with 6.5 followed by Johnson with 5.5 and Larry Satchell with 4.0.
WHO’S HOT: Over the last five games, Jannero Pargo is the team’s leading scorer with 14.6 points a game, followed by Joe Johnson with 10.8, Brandon Dean 10.6 and Alonzo Lane 9.6. Johnson is the top rebounder at 7.0 followed by Dionisio Gomez at 5.2 and Blake Eddins at 3.8. Over that stretch, Lane leads the team in shooting at .636 (21-33), followed by Gomez at .571 (12-21), Pargo at .480 (24-50), Dean at .474 (18-38) and Johnson at .447 (21-47).
REBOUNDING FROM SLOW STARTS: Arkansas is 0-2 in SEC play for the first time since 1996-97 when the Razorbacks responded to an 0-2 start by winning their next four. UA finished the year 18-14 and advanced to the NIT Final Four. Two years ago, in 1998-99, the Hogs started 1-2, with a home loss to Ole Miss, before winning two straight on the way to a 23-11 season, which included advancing to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. In 1995-96, the Razorbacks were 2-2 before winning four straight on the way to a 20-13 season, which included reaching the Sweet 16.
RAZORBACK SPARE RIBS:
…Sophomore forward Carl Baker has missed the last three games while resting a sore back. His status is day-to-day.
…Sophomore guard Charles Tatum missed the Ole Miss game with a stomach virus. …Sophomore Joe Johnson was held to four points against Ole Miss. His career low is two points at LSU last season. Following that game, he scored in double figures in the remaining 14 games of the year, averaging 17.2 per game.
…Five times this year Arkansas has had more turnovers than assists. Those are the five games the Razorbacks lost.
…Before going three-of-nine from the field against Ole Miss, junior guard Jannero Pargo was 34-of-59 in the previous seven games (58%) and averaging 14 points a game over that stretch.
…T.J. Cleveland failed to record an assist against Ole Miss, the first time this year and the first time in 25 games he’s failed to do so.
…Jannero Pargo had scored in double figures in five straight games, averaging 16.8 points over that stretch, before Ole Miss held him to nine.
…Sophomore forward Larry Satchell has four rebounds in four straight games.
FOUL FREE-THROW SHOOTING: In the six games prior to the Ole Miss contest, Arkansas made 102-of-139 free throws, 73 percent. Against the Rebels, Arkansas made just 10-of-21, 48 percent.
TRAIL OF THREES: With four three-point buckets against Ole Miss, the Razorbacks have now made at least one three-pointer in 413 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 479 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
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)
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 365-149 record (.710). 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 484-186 (.722), 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.