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 504-196 (.720). In 17 years at Arkansas, he is 385-159 (.708).
THE MSU SERIES: Arkansas leads the MSU series 19-10 and has won eight of the last nine, but the Bulldogs beat UA in the SEC opener last year in Starkville, 87-73. The Razorbacks lead 11-1 in Fayetteville and 3-1 at neutral sites while MSU leads 8-5 in Starkville. MSU’s only win in Fayetteville came in 1970-71, 69-67.
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.
AUBURN RECAP: Arkansas shot 53 percent from the field, including 59 percent in the first half (17-29) and the Razorbacks rallied from a 12-point first-half deficit to open Southeastern Conference play with an 83-77 victory at Auburn on Saturday. AU had a 41-32 rebounding edge, including 19 offensive rebounds, but the Razorbacks offset that statistic by forcing 20 turnovers, the eighth straight game the Hogs have forced 20 or more. UA scored 32 points off the turnovers and was led by Carl Baker with 17 points and J.J. Sullinger with 16. Marquis Daniels led the Tigers with 21 points.
BAKER BREAKS OUT: Junior Carl Baker has had solid games for Arkansas in the past, but Saturday’s effort at Auburn may have been the best performance of his career. He scored a career-high 17 points on seven of eight shooting, including going three of three from three-point range. He set a personal best with the three treys, and tied career marks with seven field goals and three three-point attempts. He also had three steals, his first three of the season, which is just one short of his career high. Baker also added two assists and three rebounds in a season-high 20 minutes. Entering the AU game, Baker had scored just four points for the season on one of 11 shooting.
SEC OPENERS: UA is 7-3 in Southeastern Conference home openers. Following the win at Auburn, UA is now 7-4 in all league openers and 4-7 in SEC road openers.
PARGO PUMPING THREES: Senior Jannero Pargo, a third-team All-SEC selection last year, leads the club in scoring with 16.9 points per game. He ranks among league leaders in shooting percentage (9th, .482), three-point percentage (4th, .436), three-point goals per game (2nd, 3.38) and steals (10th, 1.9).
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 six games this year, and has two 30-point games and five 20-point games, but he also leads the team with 41 assists (3.2) and has led the team in assists eight times this year, more than he’s led the club in scoring. He also averages 2.2 rebounds and 1.9 steals per game.
DEAN DELIVERS: Senior 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, 35 percent of UA’s points (370 of 1,053) and 36 percent of the team’s rebounds (157 of 431) are coming off the bench, but Arkansas had an exceptional effort from its reserves at Auburn. Thanks to the 17 points by Carl Baker and 16 by J.J. Sullinger, Arkansas had a season-high 48 bench points against the Tigers, 58 percent of the team’s total of 83. UA also had 16 rebounds off the bench, the second-best season total to the 19 boards against Tennessee-Chattanooga. The next-best point total off the bench was 41 against Elon.
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.
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 eighth-toughest schedule in the nation while Arkansas’ slate is rated the 20th most difficult. Georgia’s schedule is No. 28, Tennessee No. 43 and South Carolina No. 43. The rest are in the 80s or higher.
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 eight games since, Arkansas has forced 20 or more turnovers eight times, been in double figures in steals eight times, scored 90 or more points five times and won six of eight games following a 3-2 start.
SULLINGER’S SCORING STREAK: Freshman J.J. Sullinger recorded his eighth straight double-figure scoring game in the win at Auburn by getting 16 points. He’s averaging 12.9 points for the season and 14.9 over the last eight contests. He’s shooting 49.2 percent for the year, but during the streak, he’s made 42 of 81 shots (.519). Joe Johnson was in double figures scoring in the final 14 games of his freshman season of 1999-00.
…With its style of play, Arkansas usually does not win the rebounding battle, but when the Razorbacks get 30 or more rebounds, they are 9-1 this season.
…Dionisio Gomez had a team-high eight rebounds at Auburn, marking the ninth time this season he’s led the team and the 14th time in his career. Gomez was also three of four shooting, marking the ninth time in 13 games this year he’s made 50 percent of his shots or better.
…When true freshman J.J. Sullinger reaches double figures in scoring, which he’s done eight straight times, the Hogs are 8-2.
…When Teddy Gipson hits a three-pointer, Arkansas is 6-1 this year.
…When T.J. Cleveland makes three or more steals in a game, UA is 5-0 this season.
…Freshman Berry Jordan is averaging 5.0 points and 5.0 rebounds over the last three games and has made seven of 12 shots.
…Brandon Dean scored 10 points at Auburn, going six of six at the free-throw line. The six free throws made is a career high while the six attempts matches his career high.
…T.J. Cleveland’s five points at Auburn matched his combined total of the three previous games.
…Charles Tatum had eight points at Auburn, his second-highest point total of the year. He had 10 against Tennessee-Chattanooga. He was three of five shooting, just his third game of the year in making 50 percent of his shots or better. He was one of two in two other contests.
…Arkansas is 0-2 against ranked teams this year, losing 94-91 to No. 5 Illinois in Chicago and 85-76 to No. 6 Oklahoma State in North Little Rock. Last year, UA was 4-5 against ranked opponents.
…Arkansas is 31-8 when Brandon Dean scores in double figures.
…Alonzo Lane has made 50 percent of his shots, or better, in 46 of 77 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 nine three-pointers against Auburn, the Razorbacks have now made at least one three-pointer in 443 consecutive games. UA made at least one trey in every game it played in the 1990s.
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
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: 3-0 (Elon, Memphis, AU)
PRESEASON HONORS & PREDICTIONS: Jannero Pargo has been named to preseason All-SEC teams selected by The Sporting News (second) and by Lindy’s Basketball (third).