THE GAME: Arkansas and Tennessee-Chattanooga meet for the first time. UA is playing a member of the Southern Conference for the second straight game and is coming off a 10-day layoff for finals.
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 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 500-194 (.720). In 17 years at Arkansas, he is 381-157 (.708).
THE TENNESSEE-CHATTANOOGA SERIES: This is the first meeting between the two schools.
SOUTHERN CONFERENCE FINALISTS: By playing North Carolina-Greensboro and Tennessee-Chattanooga in back-to-back games, Arkansas is facing the two finalists from last year’s Southern Conference Tournament championship game in consecutive contests. UNCG beat UTC, 67-66, in the finals and lost to Stanford, 89-60, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
UNCG RECAP: Arkansas gave head coach Nolan Richardson his 500th career victory in typical fashion, with pressure defense resulting in 23 turnovers and easy shots which led to a .508 field goal percentage. UNCG (5-2) was within 62-59 with 9:32 to play, but an 11-2 run put the game away. Jannero Pargo continued his hot shooting by making six of 10 shots, including four of six three-pointers, for a team-high 19 points. Freshmen J.J. Sullinger and Michael Jones scored career highs of 18 and 12 points, respectively. Arkansas held the Spartans to 33.9 percent shooting and made a season-high 24 free throws in 33 attempts.
DEAN DELIVERS: Senior Brandon Dean did not record a third straight 20-point game in the win over UNCG, but he continued his solid play with nine points on four of six shooting, and added three rebounds and three assists. Over the last three games, Dean is shooting 58.1 percent (25-43) from the field, including 46.2 percent (6-13) from three-point range. He is averaging 19.7 points, 2.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists in the last three games.
PARGO HEATS UP: After making just six of 27 three-point attempts through the first five games of the year, senior Jannero Pargo has found his range in the last three contests. In fact, 18 of his last 22 field goals are three-point buckets. Over the last three games, he has made 18 of 31 (.581) three-point attempts while shooting 55 percent from the field overall (22-40). Pargo is averaging 14.9 points for the year but 22.7 over the last three games.
SULLINGER SHINES: Freshman J.J. Sullinger is off to a terrific start for the Razorbacks. He’s third on the team in scoring (11.4), second in assists (2.5), second in free-throw percentage (.806) on a team high 25 of 31 shooting effort at the line, tied for third in rebounding (2.6), fourth in steals (1.6) and third in shooting (.484). Over the last three games, he’s averaging 14.0 points, 2.7 rebounds and 3.3 assists while making 13 of 23 shots (.565) and 16 of 16 free throws.
BASKETBALL JONES: Redshirt freshman Michael Jones may become a major contributor for the Razorbacks this year following consecutive solid outings against two quality opponents. After scoring nine points and grabbing a team-high five rebounds in 22 minutes at No. 5 Illinois. In the following game against North Carolina-Greensboro, Jones topped his nine-point season high with 12 points and added three rebounds and two blocked shots. In the last two games, he’s averaging 10.5 points and 4.0 rebounds while shooting 66.7 percent from the field (8-12). After averaging just 1.0 point through the first four games of the year, he’s averaging 8.3 points while hitting 63.2 percent of his shots (12-19).
50 PERCENT 50 PERCENT OF THE TIME: Arkansas shot 50.8 percent from the field against North Carolina-Greensboro and was at 50 percent or better for the second straight game. Through eight games, UA has made 50 percent of its shots or better four times, which is 50 percent. Last year, Arkansas shot 50 percent seven times.
PRESSURE: Since turning to full-court pressure defense for the last three games, Arkansas is forcing an average of 25 turnovers per contest. Through the first five games, the Razorbacks forced an average of 18 per game.
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).
…Eighteen of Jannero Pargo’s last 22 field goals are three-pointers.
…T.J. Cleveland matched his career high of seven steals in the win over UNCG.
…Larry Satchell matched his season scoring high of six points against UNCG.
…Arkansas has played very well away from Bud Walton Arena this year. In two games on the road, the Razorbacks are shooting 50.8 percent (64-126) overall, 35.3 percent from three-point (18-51) and 68.6 percent at the free-throw line (24-35) compared to the home percentages of 41.7 percent from the field (159-372), 30.1 percent on three-pointers (37-123) and 61.8 percent at the line (84-136).
…In the Illinois game, Arkansas set season highs for points scored (91), shots made (33) and assists (22) after setting the previous highs in the game before against SWT.
…The lineup of J.J. Sullinger, Dionisio Gomez, Larry Satchell, Jannero Pargo and Brandon Dean has started the last three games for the Razorbacks.
…Carl Baker did not play against Tulsa, Oklahoma, Southwest Texas, Illinois or UNCG after spraining his left ankle in practice on Nov. 27.
…T.J. Cleveland has made 90 of his last 114 free throws (.789).
…Arkansas is 28-7 when Brandon Dean scores in double figures.
…Alonzo Lane has made 50 percent of his shots, or better, in 44 of 73 games.
…Of Charles Tatum’s 87 career field goals, 53 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 five three-pointers against Illinois, the Razorbacks have now made at least one three-pointer in 438 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.
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
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: 3-1 (Tulsa, SWT, Illinois, UNCG)
Dean, Pargo, Sullinger, Lane, Gomez: 0-1 (OU)