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 505-196 (.720). In 17 years at Arkansas, he is 386-159 (.708).
THE LSU SERIES: Arkansas leads the LSU series 22-9 and has won four straight. UA leads 8-4 in Baton Rouge, 9-1 in Fayetteville and 5-4 at neutral sites. Arkansas won three times last year, winning in Baton Rouge (59-52) for the first time since 1998 (85-68).
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.
MISSISSIPPI STATE RECAP: Arkansas forced 20 or more turnovers for the ninth straight game and scored 22 points off those turnovers while holding MSU to 37 percent shooting in getting the 75-64 victory in Fayetteville on Tuesday. Jannero Pargo had a game-high 18 points along with five rebounds and three assists while Brandon Dean made six of 11 shots and scored 16 points. UA made 10 of 28 three-pointers while the Bulldogs were six of 21, but Mississippi State stayed close by making 14 of 23 free throws. Arkansas made just seven of 16 at the line. Derrick Zimmerman led MSU with 17 points.
ROAD WARRIORS, SORT OF: Okay, it may be too early to make that claim, but Arkansas is 3-0 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 3-0 on the road with wins at Tulsa, Memphis and Auburn. Going back to last year, again not counting neutral site games in the NCAA and SEC tournaments, the Razorbacks have won five 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 contests).
QB JONES JOINS TEAM: Arkansas freshman quarterback Matt Jones of Fort Smith, Ark., officially joined the team on Monday, Jan. 7. He played one minute the following night against Mississippi State and had two points on a dunk with nine seconds to play. An all-state basketball player and nominee for McDonald’s All-America honors, he led Northside in scoring (18.9), rebounding (7.6) and assists as a senior and did the same as a junior at Van Buren (Ark.) HS when he broke former UA All-American Corliss Williamson’s conference scoring average record by averaging 24.5 points a game. As a senior at Northside, he shot 63 percent from the field. As a true freshman quarterback, he helped lead the Razorbacks to the Cotton Bowl by rushing for 592 yards and five touchdowns on 74 carries (8.0). He also threw for 275 yards and four scores.
SULLINGER SEC’S BEST FRESHMAN???: Freshman J.J. Sullinger is third on the team in scoring (12.3), tied for second in rebounding (3.0), third in assists (2.1) and fourth in shooting (.488). Here’s a list of top freshmen in the SEC, ranked by scoring average:
LOUISIANA HOGS: UA seniors Teddy Gipson and Brandon Dean play in Baton Rouge for the final time this week. In seven career games against LSU, Gipson, from Farmerville, has a 10.1 scoring average while in eight games, Dean, from Monroe, averages 9.3 points.
PARGO PUMPING THREES: Senior Jannero Pargo, a third-team All-SEC selection last year, leads the club in scoring with 17.0 points per game. He ranks among league leaders in shooting percentage (9th, .480), three-point percentage (5th, .436) and three-point goals per game (2nd, 3.43).
PARGO MORE THAN POINTS: Jannero Pargo is one of the top shooters in the SEC, he leads the team in scoring, has led the team in scoring in seven games this year, and has two 30-point games and five 20-point games, but he also leads the team with 44 assists (3.1) and has led the team in assists eight times this year, more than he’s led the club in scoring. He also averages 2.4 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game.
DEAN DELIVERS: Brandon Dean, the MVP of the 2000 SEC Tournament, is having a good senior season and had a great December. In six December games, he was 43 of 73 from the field (.589) and averaged 16.8 points a game.
BENCH PRODUCTION: Arkansas’ style of play under head coach Nolan Richardson means the Razorbacks play more players than most other programs in the nation, so naturally the Hogs will get more points and rebounds off the bench than other clubs. So far this year, 34 percent of UA’s points (389 of 1,128) and 37 percent of the team’s rebounds (172 of 466) are coming off the bench. The highest bench totals came at Auburn when UA’s reserves scored 48 points and against Tennessee-Chattanooga when the bench claimed 19 rebounds.
TWO HOGS CLOSING IN ON 1,000 CAREER POINTS: Seniors Brandon Dean and Teddy Gipson each have a chance to end their careers with 1,000 points scored.
UA AGAINST RANKED TEAMS: Following the 75-64 win over No. 22 Mississippi State, Arkansas is now 1-2 this season against ranked teams. Arkansas earlier lost to then-No. 5 Illinois and then-No. 6 Oklahoma State.
POWER RANKINGS: Several SEC teams have better records than Arkansas, but only one has played a tougher schedule, according to CollegeRPI.com. Kentucky has played the fifth-toughest schedule in the nation while Arkansas’ slate is rated the 14th-most difficult. Georgia’s schedule is next at No. 33 followed by Tennessee at No. 34.
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 nine games since, Arkansas has forced 20 or more turnovers nine times, been in double figures in steals eight times, scored 90 or more points five times and won seven of nine games following a 3-2 start.
…With its style of play, Arkansas usually does not win the rebounding battle, but when the Razorbacks get 30 or more rebounds, they are 10-1 this season.
…Dionisio Gomez’s three-pointer against Mississippi State was his first of the year in his first attempt of the season. In fact, his trey was his first since the NCAA Tournament first-round loss to Miami (Fla.) in 2000. He was 0-7 from beyond the arc in 2001.
…Alonzo Lane had seven points and five rebounds in the win over Mississippi State. The point and rebound totals are more than his combined totals of the three previous games. The seven points is one short of his season high while the five boards are a season best.
…UA’s starters shot 50 percent from the field against Mississippi State (20-40). Four of the five shot 50 percent or better. The only exception was the best shooter on the team, Jannero Pargo, who was six of 13.
…Dionisio Gomez had a team-high six rebounds against MSU, marking the 10th time this season he’s led the team and the 15th time in his career. Gomez was also three of six shooting, marking the 10th time in 14 games this year he’s made 50 percent of his shots or better.
…When true freshman J.J. Sullinger reaches double figures in scoring, the Hogs are 8-2.
…When Teddy Gipson hits a three-pointer, Arkansas is 7-1 this year.
…When T.J. Cleveland makes three or more steals in a game, UA is 5-0 this season.
…Arkansas is 32-8 when Brandon Dean scores in double figures.
…Alonzo Lane has made 50 percent of his shots, or better, in 47 of 78 games.
…Of Charles Tatum’s 94 career field goals, 58 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 10 three-pointers against Mississippi State, the Razorbacks have now made at least one three-pointer in 444 consecutive games. UA made at least one trey in every game it played in the 1990s. The last time UA failed to make a three 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 508 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. 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
Auburn (1-5): Dean, Pargo, Gipson, Jordan, Gomez
MSU (1-8): 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: 4-0 (Elon, Memphis, AU, MSU)