THE GAME: No. 24 Arkansas (4-1) looks for its fourth straight win when the Razorbacks play host to Memphis (2-3) in a 2 p.m. game on Saturday, Dec. 2. The Tigers beat Tennessee-Martin, 81-49, Wednesday.
THIS WEEK’S POLLS: In the two major polls, Arkansas is ranked 24th in the ESPN/USA Today Top 25 Coaches’ Poll and No. 25 by the Associated Press. In the preseason polls, the Razorbacks were tied for 15th with Notre Dame in the Associated Press poll and 15th in the ESPN/USA Today Top 25 Coaches’ Poll.
Preseason 15 T15
11-13 — 15
11-20 18 24
11-27 24 25
RADIO/TV INFORMATION: Twenty-three of UA’s games will be 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 series is tied 9-9. Memphis snapped a three-game losing streak with last year’s 76-71 victory in Memphis. Arkansas leads 4-2 at home and 2-1 at neutral sites while UM leads 6-3 in Memphis. Seven of the games have been decided by five points or less with the Razorbacks holding a 4-3 edge in those games. UA head coach Nolan Richardson is 7-4 against the Tigers.
THE LAST MEETING WITH THE TIGERS: Arkansas led by one at the break but the Razorbacks shot just 31 percent from the field in the second half as Memphis came back for a 76-71 victory last year in front of 16,011 at The Pyramid. Chris Walker had 15 points for the Hogs while Alonzo Lane and Jason Gilbert scored 13 each, and Joe Johnson 10. Kelly Wise led the Tigers with 20 points and 14 rebounds. Marcus Moody added 16 points.
LAST TIME OUT: Arkansas’ defense set the tone again as the Razorbacks forced 20 first-half turnovers for the second straight game and 32 for the entire contest in an 88-57 win over Centenary on Tuesday. A 17-2 first-half spurt was the difference as the Hogs won for the third straight time. Joe Johnson made seven-of-nine shots and led UA with 19 points. Brandon Dean added 15 and Jannero Pargo 14. Ronnie McCollum, the nation’s third-leading scorer last year who came into the game averaging 28.7 per outing, led CC with 19.
RAZORBACK TRENDS AND PATTERNS:
…Arkansas has forced 20 first-half turnovers in each of the last two games.
…Arkansas has forced a total of 68 turnovers in the last two contests, an average of 34 per game.
…For the year, the Razorbacks have forced twice as many turnovers (118) as they’ve committed (58).
…UA has three times as many steals (67) as its opponents (22).
…Arkansas opponents have more turnovers (118) this season than field goals (112).
…The Hogs have more three-point attempts (132) than free-throw attempts (113).
…As a team, the Razorbacks have a 1.69 assist-to-turnover ratio, led by T.J. Cleveland (3.6), Joe Johnson (2.5), Brandon Davis (2.2) and Jannero Pargo (2.0).
…Over the last three games, Brandon Dean is the team’s leading scorer with 15 points a game. Johnson is second at 14.7, followed by Charles Tatum at 11.3 and Pargo at 10.3.
…Pargo has a team-high 17 assists over the last three games (5.7). Brandon Davis is second with 11 (3.7).
…Going back to last year, Cleveland has made 20 of his last 23 free throws.
…Going back to last year, Tatum has made 19 of his last 20 free throws.
…The Centenary game was the first this year in which Johnson did not lead or tie for the team lead in rebounding.
…Johnson has scored in double figures in 25 of 28 career games. Arkansas has lost all three contests in which he did not reach double figures.
UA’S RECORD WHEN … :
Scoring less than 70 points: 0-1 Scoring 70-79 points: 0-0
Scoring 80-89 points: 1-0 Scoring 90-99 points: 2-0
Scoring 100 points: 1-0 Outrebounding opp.: 2-0
Outrebounded: 2-1 Tied in rebounding: 0-0
Shooting below 40%: 0-1 Shooting 40-49%: 3-0
Shooting 50% or better: 1-0 Opp. shoot below 40%: 2-1
Opp. shoot 40-49%: 2-0 Opp. shoot 50% or better: 0-0
Tied in assists and turnovers: 0-0 Forcing 20 turnovers: 3-0
Having 10 or more steals: 3-0 Winning the tip: 3-0
Scoring first: 2-0 Leading at the half: 4-0
Trailing at the half: 0-1 Tied at the half: 0-0
Having more assists than turnovers: 4-0
Having more turnovers than assists: 0-1
TENNESSEE-MARTIN MEASURING STICK: UA’s last two opponents, Centenary and Memphis, visited Fayetteville after games against Tennessee-Martin. Centenary lost at UTM Nov. 25, 69-56, while Memphis beat the Skyhawks in Memphis on Wednesday, 81-49.
THREE-POINT BARRAGE: Against Centenary, the Razorbacks let it fly from behind the arc. Arkansas took 36 three-point shots, which ties for the seventh-highest single-game total in school history, and made 15 of those bombs, which matches the 10th-best single-game school mark.
TRAIL OF THREES: With 15 three-point buckets against Centenary, the Razorbacks have now made at least one three-pointer in 404 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.
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, Baker, Lane, Gipson, 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
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 360-145 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 479-182 (.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.