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Arkansas heads on the road for the final SEC game of the season

BY ANDRES FOCIL
Arkansas heads on the road for the final SEC game of the season

ABOUT THE LADY RAZORBACKS: The 30th edition of the Arkansas women’s basketball team takes the floor this season with head coach Susie Gardner. Initially, Arkansas returned at least four starters from last year’s team that went 17-14 overall, reaching the second round of the Women’s NIT. However, the injury bug hit once again, and the Lady’Backs find themselves without last year’s leading scorer and preseason all-SEC post Sarah Pfeifer. A rough non-conference season, particularly on the road, prepared Arkansas for a 5-1 start in SEC play. More injuries at midseason left Arkansas without its full roster to close the season, a situation exacerbated by the loss of Danielle Allen with a knee injury. It is an ensemble cast for the Lady’Backs who have only one player to start every game, and only four players to play each contest.
ABOUT THE LADY REBELS: Off to a fast start that saw Ole Miss acheive top 25 ranking at the beginning of SEC play, the Lady Rebels have struggled in conference to recapture their December form. One of the league’s top all-around players, Armintie Price, leads Ole Miss with 16.5 ppg and 10.1 rpg. A candidate for player of the year and defensive player of the year, Price is the engine that drives Ole Miss with 34 minutes per game.
THE GAME FOR THE ROAD JERSEY: The winner of Sunday’s game has the privilege of wearing home white at noon next Thursday. The loser will wear the road unis — will it be Rebel Red or Cardinal is the only question to be settled as these teams are locked into the 8-9 game. The only possible change is the combination of an Arkansas win and Auburn win (over Georgia on Senior Day). This makes Arkansas 6-8, Auburn 5-9 and Ole Miss 4-10. BTW, while this drops Ole Miss to the 10 spot, it still puts the Lady Rebels in the road uniforms.
IF THE SEC TOURNAMENT WERE PLAYED TODAY: Well, more than most seasons the vast majority of positions are now set heading into the final six games of the regular season.#1 Seed: LSU#2 Seed: Tennessee#3 Seed: Georgia (has tiebreaker on UK)#8 Seed: Winner of UA/UM#9 Seed: Loser of UA/UM#11 Seed: Alabama#12 Seed: Miss State
NOW THE FUN STARTS: Kentucky is the likely fourth seed and last team to receive a first-day bye. The Wildcats lost at Vanderbilt Thursday to give the Commodores a chance, but now UK hosts Senior Day against 11th place Alabama. A UK win locks fourth as no other team can reach nine league wins. That would leave the Vandy-USC game determining the fate of Florida, Vandy and USC in the five-six-seven series.
IF KENTUCKY WINS AND . . . : UK is the fourth seed plus
Florida beats Tennessee; Vandy beats USC: Vandy and Florida tie for fifth at 8-6 with five seed to Vanderbilt. UF is six and USC seven.
Florida beats UT; USC beats Vandy: Now a UF-USC tie that gives the Gamecocks the five, Florida six and Vandy seven.
UT beats UF; Vandy beats USC: Vandy gets sole possession of fifth at 8-6, USC and UF tie at 7-7. USC is the six, Florida the seven.
UT beats UF; USC beats Vandy: USC stands in fifth at 8-6 and UF and Vandy share 7-7 records. Florida is the six and Vandy the seven.
IF KENTUCKY LOSES AND . . . : The nightmare begins for the tiebreakers as this invokes one of those unbalanced three-ways that is only possible in the 14-game women’s schedule. Carolina is Vandy’s Eastern Division partner for this biennium; Florida is Kentucky’s East rotator.
Florida beats Tennessee; Vandy beats USC: This breaks into a three-way at 8-6 among UK, UF and Vandy. Florida gets the four spot (2-1 against the others), Vandy is the five (1-1) and Kentucky the six (1-2). USC takes the seven.
Florida beats Tennessee; USC beats Vandy: This is another three-way 8-6, but change the numbers. Kentucky is the 2-1 in this grouping for the four spot, USC is the five at 1-1, Florida the six at 1-2 and Vandy by losing to USC has seven wins and the seventh seed.
UT beats UF; Vandy beats USC: Two-way tie at 8-6 and 7-7. Vandy is the fourth seed with the head-to-head win over UK (five seed). USC is the six seed on its win over UF (seven).
UT beats UF; USC beats Vandy: Different two-way ties. UK is the four seed with USC as the five seed. Vandy takes the six and Florida the seven.
SHIPS THAT PASS IN THE NIGHT: Ah for the salad days of non-conference as both teams arrived at the Miami International Airport earlier this season. At the time, Ole Miss was ranked top 25 in both polls, but stinging from an upset by Miami. The Lady’Backs were staggering home after blowing a tremendous lead to Florida International. Arkansas went on from the airport counter encounter to tear into league play with a 5-1 start while Ole Miss tumbled out of the gate for a 1-5 opening.
SENIOR WEEK ANOMALY: Ole Miss has the full week to prep for the Lady Razorbacks as the SEC schedule provided an uncharacteristic bye date to the Lady Rebels. Traditionally, teams have played one home and one road game during Senior Week, balancing the emotional load of the final send-off games.
ZONE BUSTERS: Arkansas missed its first nine three-point attempts against Georgia, and it looked like another night of futility for the Lady’Back fusilliers. Fortunately, Melissa Hobbs stroked in the 10th trey attempt, a shot that sent Arkansas to the locker room tied at 22 with #13 Georgia. In the second half, Georgia went 2-3 zone and Arkansas made the Lady Bulldogs pay with five straight three-pointers to build a lead of as many as 10 with 12 minutes to play.
THE PRICE IS RIGHT: Come on down to the free throw line Armintie Price. The junior has made it to the line 219 times this season, hitting 133 free throws. That’s more attempts than any four Lady Razorbacks combined; more made than any three Lady’Backs.
WALKING THE LINE: Continuing, Ole Miss has made more free throws this season — 393 — than Arkansas has attempted — 370.
M*A*S*H UNIT ROLLS INTO OXFORD: Adding to the work load of Hawkeye Melby, Arkansas had two players leave the game with injuries against Georgia. Starting guard Brittney Vaughn suffered a deep thigh bruise in her quad in the first half, and saw limited action the rest of the game. On top of Whitney Jones’ usual left leg injury, she left the game with 2:06 left with a severe cramp in her right leg — and took a hard elbow to the sternum in the game.
IMAGINE A WORLD WITHOUT INJURIES: Whitney Jones has battled persistent foot and lower leg injuries since the season opener. It cost the freshman two games at New Year’s, and severely limited her playing and practice time in the late season. Jones broke out with a SEC career best 21 points, one shy of her career high of 22 in the season opener, against Georgia. She got her 21 in spite of not finishing the game with another injury.
SENIORS BUST OUT: Senior Night certainly was just that in the opening minutes as Kristin Moore, Rochelle Vaughn and Melissa Hobbs jumped on Georgia for a quick 8-2 lead. For the game, Vaughn finished with 18 points and Hobbs 14, including a critical three-pointer to tie the game at 22-22 heading into half. Moore had a foul-limited 19 minutes, but scored 8 points off 4-of-7 and pulldown six rebounds.
AND A FRESHMAN SHALL LEAD THEM: Whitney Jones hit 8-of-13 from the field for her best game since the season opener with SMU. Her 21 points is a SEC career high in only 26 minutes off the bench.
THE MAGIC NUMBER IS 26: As in opponent turnovers — Arkansas is 7-0 with 26 or more; 5-6 this year with 25 or less.
BEEP, BEEP, BEEP: That’s the sound of Arkansas’ perimeter player backing up to the arc in SEC games. The Lady’Backs are shooting almost as well behind 19-9 at .345 (102-of-296) than they shoot from the field at .350. In fact, the Lady’Backs hit more threes — 102 — than free throws — 87.
CALL IT A DOPPLER SHIFT: The sound of the backup siren isn’t quite what it was two weeks ago as the margin between field goal and three-point percentages has narrowed from +3% to treys to +5% in favor of field goals.
TREY MANIFIQUE: Arkansas drops in the NCAA stats for three-pointers per game to 16th after a season high 11th last week with at 7.1 per contest. Georgia moved back ahead of Arkansas to lead the SEC and bump up to 11th in the country at 7.3 per game.
SERIES: Ole Miss leads 15-7 and has won the last three meetings between the teams. In Oxford, it’s a dominant 10-0 for the Lady Rebels.
ON TO NEVER-NEVER LAND: Oxford remains one of two towns Arkansas has never won a game in the SEC. The other is Knoxville.
BUT NOT SO GLAD AT THE TAD PAD: In league games, Ole Miss is a mere 1-5 at home, and had the Lady Rebels not won their last home league game (Auburn) would be winless versus the SEC heading into Senior Day.
LAST MEETING IN OXFORD: Danielle Allen’s first career double-double wasn’t enough to overcome Ole Miss at Oxford. The sophomore had 22 points to lead all scorers and picked up 10 rebounds. Sarah Pfeifer posted her SEC best with 15 points off the bench in 24 minutes played. Without Moore, Arkansas proved vulnerable on the inside and Ole Miss took advantage with 58 rebounds and a massive double-double from Armintie Price of 17 points and 17 rebounds.
LAST MEETING: Riding a two-game winning streak and beginning to reassemble the offense and defense after losing two starters in three weeks, Arkansas felt good about trailing by only seven after hitting a mere 22% from the field to Ole Miss. The good positioning disappeared in the second half as the Lady Rebels pounded the ball inside for 50 second half points and raked in a whopping 61 rebounds — 20 on the offensive glass. Only Sarah Pfeifer managed double digits with 14, and most of that came at the free throw line.
WHEN YOU SHOOT LIKE THIS . . .: Arkansas is averaging .377 from the field for the season, but .344 in SEC games which is 11th.
. . . AND YOUR OPPONENTS HIT . . .: Arkansas’ SEC foes are converting 47.2% from the field which ranks the Lady’Backs the worst shooting defense.
. . . YOU BETTER GET MORE SHOTS: There’s only two ways to have more possessions, and so far this SEC season Arkansas has both of them working. Always an aggressive team with turnovers — and usually ranked No. 1 or No. 2 in the SEC for turnover margin — Arkansas has added a new passion for rebounds, particularly on the offensive glass, to bolster opportunities.
OR THEY BETTER COUNT FOR MORE: Of the 260 field goals Arkansas has made in league games, more than a third — 93 — are behind the arc.
JUST WHEN YOU THOUGHT IT WAS SAFE TO GO BACK TO THE GYM: Danielle Allen’s season-ending ACL injury insures that the Lady’Backs will close the year with only two games out of the year with a full roster of players. When Allen dressed out against Auburn, Arkansas had its complete roster of 13 players for the first time this entire season. That gave Arkansas two games — the following game with Alabama — with it’s entire roster. Arkansas has “lost” 39 player games on the 13-player active roster. Add in Sarah Pfeifer to get to the original 14 player roster (and 26 missed games) and Arkansas is up to 65 games.
914,262: In 30 seasons of women’s basketball, that’s how many fans have attended Arkansas home games in Fayetteville. The Lady’Backs game with Miss State tipped the scales over 900,000, with the 4,422 for the current season high with UK taking the total to just shy of 912K.
ALLEN OUT FOR SEASON: At the end of Thursday’s practice, Danielle Allen injured her left knee. Initial tests reveal that she has torn ligaments, like the ACL, and she is out for the rest of the season.
PEOPLES STILL OUT: Kristin Peoples re-injured her back in practice on the Friday prior to the USC game when she ran into a screen. While she dressed for two games (USC, LSU), she was unable to play. She has not made the recent road trips, and has not dressed the last three games.
NOTABLE FROM RECENT GAMES QUITE A TURNAROUND: Arkansas gave up an opponent high for the season to LSU in Fayetteville with 47 first-half points. At Baton Rouge, the defense clamped down to hold the #2 Lady Tigers to their third worst first half with only 27 points. Only one player scored in double figures — Seimone Augustus — as LSU finished with 64.
QUITE A REVERSAL: While Arkansas’ defense was much improved, the offense sputtered to hit only 27% from the field and scored a season low for a half of 14 points at LSU. For the game, no Lady’Backs made it to double figures.
ANOTHER FOUL SMELL: Road woes in the upper South returned at Vanderbilt as the Lady’Backs went to the line only four times for seven free throws while the host Commodores made 13-of-23 off the 18 Arkansas fouls.
POUNDING THE BALL DOWN LOW: Arkansas did a reasonable — if below season average — job shooting the three-pointer at Vandy, but the Commodores put extra effort into limiting the Lady’Backs’ three-point attempts. The result was only eight of 25 field goals from behind the arc. However, it also led to the Lady’Backs bringing the ball inside more than previous games. It wasn’t a match for the taller ‘Dores who had 38 points in the lane compared to the shorter Lady’Backs’ 18 points.
WHEN GUARDS REBOUND: Bad things happen, at least when Lady’Back guards lead the team in rebounding. Arkansas is 4-9 when a guard types lead the team in rebounds, including converted guard Melissa Hobbs. Removing Hobbs, who technically is a forward this spring, Arkansas is 2-7.
ANOTHER TEAM EFFORT: While Arkansas might not have a double-digit scorer at Vanderbilt, the Lady’Backs had five players within a goal of a double. The great balance by the Lady’Backs is best expressed through the rallies of each half. In the first, Arkansas tied the game with three buckets from three players — Danielle Allen, Kristina Andjelkovic and Sheree Thompson. In the second, Arkansas wiped out the halftime lead of Vandy with a Rochelle Vaughn jumper, a trey from Melissa Hobbs and a layup from Brittney Vaughn. Down the stretch, the Lady’Backs regained momentum with six different players scoring one bucket each to pull within two, 55-53.
STALLED: Melissa Hobbs’ jumper with 5:37 left to play lifted Arkansas within two of Vanderbilt, 55-53. Unfortunately, Arkansas lost momentum and the offense did not produce another point until Kristin Moore’s jumper with 58 seconds left to play.
THROWS OFF: The Lady’Backs missed seven straight free throws before Brittney Vaughn made one with 49 seconds left at Vanderbilt.
SILENCE OF THE HAMS, II: A field goal by Rochelle Vaughn with 8:35 to play was the last bucket of the game at Tennessee. A single free throw by Brittney Vaughn at 4:41 was the only Arkansas point in those final eight and a half minutes. Meanwhile, UT ran Arkansas 23-1.
LH IN THE FIRST: Leslie Howard prevented Arkansas from going scoreless at the end of the first half, hitting three three-point goals. Unfortunately, no other Lady’Back joined in and in the second half Howard was shut down by UT.
MH IN THE SECOND: Melissa Hobbs scored a SEC game best 12 points at Tennessee, keeping Arkansas in reach of the Lady Vols for the first 10 minutes of the second half. Hobbs’ five unanswered after half made it a seven point game to being the final 20 minutes, and it was another Hobbs jumper that got Arkansas back to seven, 37-30, with 15:08 left.
IF WE TOLD YOU . . . : That Arkansas would open the game shooting 43% from the field, 50% from the line and would have only one turnover, you’d think the Lady’Backs were in pretty good shape. Unfortunately against LSU, that didn’t help much as the Tigers hit their first seven shots and at the same mid-point of the opening half were sinking 78% from the field.
NO BIG SURPRISE: LSU exploited Arkansas’ size to the tune of 24 of its first 28 points in the lane. For the game, the Tigers had 58 of its 93 points in the paint compared to only 18 for Arkansas.
OVER BY HALF: Arkansas gave up a season-high 47 first half points to LSU, and cannot afford the same with Tennessee. In both meetings last season, Arkansas came out of the locker room at halftime to rally, but the deficits were too much to overcome.
SMALL VICTORIES: LSU leads the nation in scoring defense at 48.4 ppg, and Arkansas did manage 59.
TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE OFFENSE: It happened at South Carolina and Arkansas hopes it will not continue Thursday. Arkansas did not produce offensively, hitting only 30.5% from the field, 24.2% in the crucial second half. The 22.2% from behind the arc was the season low. Even though Arkansas was better for the game at the line than they’ve been much of the season — 66.7% — in the critical final minutes Arkansas missed free throws that could have effected the outcome.
WORST THREE-POINT HALF: Arkansas’ 1-of-6 in the opening frame at South Carolina was the season low half for attempts and made against conference foes. The game proved to be the worst percentage and made (4) for Arkansas in SEC play this far.
AND FOR CAROLINA: Small comfort, but Arkansas ended USC’s 100-plus game streak of scoring at least one three-pointer. South Carolina was 0-of-3 from behind the arc.
THE DYNAMIC DUO: Leslie Howard claimed postgame that she and Adrienne Bush even had name tags this summer that said “Offense” and “Defense”. Making situational subs down the stretch, Susie Gardner alternated the pair; however, it would be a mistake to completely dismiss each player’s alter ego. While Bush is considered the team’s defense stopper, she leads the team in field goal percentage at . And, Howard hasn’t exactly slacked on defense, picking up career bests for steals and blocks versus Miss State then forcing a crucial jump ball in the final 40 seconds against Florida.
SILENCE OF THE HAMS: Arkansas hit four three-point shots in the opening five minutes of the game to tie 24th-ranked Florida, 12-12. The Lady’Back offense went dark for the next 8:20 of the first half, allowing Florida a 11-0 run. Melissa Hobbs long two broke the streak, but Florida extended to an 18-4 run and a 30-16 lead with 4:22 left.
FLIP A REPTILE ON ITS BACK: And at the 4:22 mark, Florida proceeded to return the favor as Arkansas’ defense clamped down harder than a Gator chomp. Five Florida turnovers fueled an 11-0 run to finish the first half. It continued in the second as Arkansas held UF scoreless the opening 1:34. The 5-0 second half start made it a 16-0 total swing over a combined 5:56.
NEW SCHOOL RECORD AT THE LINE: The 10-of-10 free throws meets the criteria of 10 minimum attempts, so the Lady’Backs claim a pair of school marks from the Florida game. The previous best was 21-of-22 for 95% against McNeese back in 1987. The SEC regular season game mark was 14-of-15 against LSU in 1999. It also becomes the UA record at Walton Arena, surpassing the 93.8% of the ‘99 LSU game.
JOHNNIE HARRIS WANTS HER DUE: Earlier in the year, the coaches’ luncheon quip was assistant coach Johnnie Harris was in charge of our free throw shooting. That’s when the Lady’Backs were struggling mightily at dead flat last in the SEC. Now, Harris gets free throw coach of the week as Arkansas breaks the school mark for free throw percentage in a game with 100% — 10-of-10 — against Florida. Of the 10 made, four were in the final 32 seconds to preserve the win.
THAT WASN’T NECESSARY: Arkansas looked well on its way to an easy win until the 5:47 mark. Arkansas was up seven, 53-46, but did not score for the next five minutes as Miss State made a comeback thanks to five straight turnovers. Next thing you know Lady’Backs trail by two as MSU converts three of the five mistakes into a 7-0 run to lead, 55-53.
MORE HISTORY FOR THE 30TH SEASON: Arkansas achieved its best start in SEC play at 4-1 with the comeback win against Miss State.
SCHOOL RECORD TIED FOR TREYS: The 13 three-pointers made against Auburn’s 2-3 zone tied the Arkansas record in a SEC game
SOME KIND OF SCHOOL RECORD FOR FT FUTILITY: Or it should be as Arkansas shot an abysmal 4-of-12 in the second half and only 5-of-17 for the game.
FIRST TOP 25 WIN SINCE 2004: Susie Gardner picked up her second win over a top 25 team with her team’s upset of 20th-ranked Vanderbilt in overtime. Her first — and Arkansas’ most recent top 25 win — came over 16th-ranked Georgia in February 2004.
DEFENSE IS A BEAUTIFUL THING: Arkansas held its fourth team to less than 20 points in the first half with the 19 yielded to Vanderbilt. It was the season low for points in a half by the 20th-ranked Commodores. The Lady’Backs held the SEC’s overall most accurate team — and number four in the nation — to only 16.7% in overtime and 37% for the game.
ANOTHER FOUL GAME: Arkansas went 38:05 before it shot its first free throw in the Vanderbilt game. It took over 39 minutes before the Lady’Backs scored its first free throw. And, with only two free throws made it was a season low.
TOTAL TEAM EFFORT: Arkansas got points from 11 of its 12 active players against Vanderbilt.
NEAR RECORDS AT STATE: Arkansas missed its school record for fewest points allowed in a SEC game by a single bucket. Miss State’s Miayorka Johnson saved the day with her three-pointer with 2:03 left to play to give State 45 points. For some time is appeared the Lady Bulldogs would break the mark of 43 points set by Kentucky in 1993 at Barnhill Arena. It does tie the second-lowest game — ironically 45 by Miss State in Fayetteville in 2001.
NEW STANDARD FOR FUTILITY: Arkansas held Miss State scoreless for 8:08 in the first half, a new record for the Lady’Back defense this season. The Lady Bulldogs scored two field goals — and five points — in the last 15:12 of the first half.
HOW LOW CAN YOU GO: That might be the question for the Auburn game. Arkansas’ offense over the years has famously under performed versus the Tigers. In fact, most of Arkansas’ records for offensive futility are against Auburn teams. Meanwhile, Arkansas defense has clamped down season lows on its first two SEC opponents.
THAT’S NO MONKEY: Arkansas got King Kong off its back in Starkville by winning the first SEC road opener in the 15-year membership of the Lady Razorbacks. The Lady’Backs were 0-8 starting SEC play on the road (the first overall game) and 0-14 in the first SEC road game. Arkansas now stands atop the league standings after game one for only the fourth time in those 15 seasons with the league.
SOMETHING FOUL ABOUT THOSE TWO LOSSES: There is a single constant in Arkansas’ last two defeats — fouls. In its most recent defeat, Arkansas never shot the bonus as Florida International had six first half fouls, three in the second for a total of nine fouls. For the game, Arkansas hit 6-of-7 for one of the best percentages of the year, 85.7%. Meanwhile, FIU went to the line 22 times, making 14, off of 20 Lady’Back fouls that including fouling out Arkansas’ leading scorer, Kristin Moore. At Western Kentucky, the Lady’Backs committed a near school record 31 fouls with another almost school record three players fouling out at Bowling Green. Western made (29) more free throws than Arkansas shot (18).
OFFENSE M.I.A. IN MIAMI: Arkansas scored 51 points in the first 30 minutes at Florida International and led by 17 points. In the final 10 minutes — 9:40 to be exact — Arkansas had one field goal and a total of three points while FIU went on a 24-3 run to turn the 17-point deficit into a four-point victory. Arkansas missed 10 straight field goals, 12 of its final 13 attempts, and aggravated the situation with five turnovers over the same time frame.
RECORD DEFENSIVE PERFORMANCE: The 33 points allowed to Coppin State is the least yielded in a neutral court game in the 30-year history of the program. It surpassed 41 Hampton in the 2002 Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands and — ironically — 41 by New Hampshire in the third-place game of the 1995.
FOURTH LOWEST ALL-TIME: The 33-point game with Coppin is the least since a 31-point game against Alabama State in 1991. The all-time marks are 19 at Bartlesville Weslyan in the third game in school history (and the all-time low for a road game) then 29 points — again Bartlesville Weslyan — at Barnhill Arena in the return game. Those games come from the first year of Lady’Back basketball. Arkansas gave up 29 points the second year of the program in a home game win over Cottey College.
HOW LOW CAN YOU GO?: The defensive effort is only surpassed by the offensive limbo of escaping with victory in a game with less than 50 points scored. The last time Arkansas won with under 50 was the epic 45-43 upset of then #24 Kentucky on Jan 23, 1993, the only win in Lady’Back history without a single double digit scorer and one of only three games all-time with zero over 10. Arkansas also beat UMKC in 1988-89, 46-42; and downed Prairie View A&M 48-45 in 1978-79.
MO LOW — SCHOOL RECORD FOR LEAST POINTS, TWO-TEAMS: The Coppin State game goes into the books as the lowest scoring game in Lady Razorback history with 82 points. Arkansas and Bartlesville Weslyan combined for 86 points in 1977, while the Lady’Backs and then Ladykats of Kentucky scored only 88 points in 1993. The 88 total also was hit in the UMKC game of 1988-89 and Arkansas-Rice (53-35) in 1979.
DEFENSE SETS NEW STANDARD: Arkansas held UNO without scoring for 6:05 midway through the first half. It came on the heels of a 4:12 stretch and 4:00 to start the game — totaling up to only two field goals in 14:17.
POTO OPENS THE GAME: The Lady’Backs scored its first 17 points against UNO off turnovers to build a 17-4 lead. Arkansas forced 13 turnovers in the opening 10 minutes to take the lead. For the game, Arkansas had 32 — 11 from UNO’s point guard alone — and a turnover advantage of 15.
ANOTHER DEFENSIVE VICTORY: Arkansas forced a near -2:1 assist-to-turnover ratio from UTPA, picking up 11 steals in 27 turnovers and converting it into 34 points off turnovers. Equally impressive, on Arkansas’ 15 turnovers UTPA scored only two buckets — an opponent season low four points of UA turnovers.
A/T THE WAY WE D: Arkansas’ crushed Nicholls on the perimeter, forcing 27 turnovers and allowing the Lady Colonel offense to muster only seven assists in 17 made shots. That’s almost a -4:1 assist to turnover ratio for NSU.
MERRY SESQUICENTENNIAL, COACH GARDNER: Susie Gardner earned her 150th career victory against Nicholls State at Hot Springs.
HOPEFULLY NOT A PREVIEW: Western Kentucky’s size led to a 50-16 advantage in points in the paint and a 47-24 advantage on the backboards.
FOUR DOUBLES, BUT NO WIN: Arkansas got the offensive balance it needed at Western Kentucky with four in double figures, but the 73-point output — just shy of the season average at the time — was not enough to overcome the Lady Toppers’ inside power.
THAT’S FOUL: Arkansas had a near-miss at two of its school records at Western Kentucky. The Lady’Backs were called for 31 fouls, just three from the school record of 34 from the 1993 meeting at South Carolina. Three Lady’Backs fouled out of the game, one away from the school record of four. It seemed like Arkansas would tie or break the DQ record — one that dates to the AIAW era — as three Lady’Backs finished the game with four fouls.
WHO YA GONNA CALL? ZONEBUSTERS: UMKC wasn’t exclusively 2-3 as they were at Kansas City last year, but whenever the Kangaroos went zone Arkansas punished them from the perimeter. Kristin Peoples led the way with a new team high of four made (on six attempts). Arkansas hit a season best 9-of-17 from behind the arc.
ONE SHY OF ALL SCORING: Arkansas had another balanced scoring day with UMKC as nine of the 10 players in the game scored and four players were in double digits, two starters and two from the bench.
YOU DON’T SEE THAT VERY OFTEN: Arkansas’ shooting got worse the closer it got to the bucket against UMKC. The Lady’Backs’ shot 52.9% from three-point range, 52.2% from the field and 50% from the line.
WE ARE ALL MADE OF STARS: In five of the first six games this season, Arkansas has seen at least one player pick up a major career game: Kristin Peoples’ 21 points and Whitney Jones’ 22 at SMU, Dominique Washington pulling down 25 with Memphis, 10 rebounds for Sheree Thompson at Portland, Ayana Brereton getting 18 against Grambling, Melissa Hobbs doubling Tulsa for 19 and 11 then Jones picking up the double of 21 and 10 against UMKC.
UNFORTUNATELY, THE STARS HAVEN’T ALIGNED: With the exception of Memphis, Arkansas hasn’t had all those star performances come together in a single contest this season.
REBOUNDS TRUMP TURNOVERS: Arkansas had +9 in turnover margin and forced Tulsa into a negative assist-to-turnover ratio. The Lady’Backs also posted a 1.5:1 A:T. All for naught as the Golden Hurricane whipped up a storm of rebounds, 61-37, with almost as many offensive boards — 32 — as Arkansas had as a team — 37.
BENCH POWER: The starter shuffle against Grambling produced the most bench points of the season as the substitutes outscored the starters, 62-24. Not all of that can be attributed to former starter Kristin People’s career high 23 as the Lady’Backs got year-to-date highs from Kristin Moore (8) and Ayana Brereton (18).
COULD BE A FIRST: Arkansas had none of its starters in double digits, but three in double-digits from the bench. Three times in the 30-year history of the program Arkansas has not had anyone in double digits, but it will take some checking to verify if this was the first (or to find the last time) the double digit scorers were all off the bench.
BALANCE CONTINUES: Arkansas had 10 players available for Grambling, and everyone saw at least 12 minutes of playing time. For the third time this year the entire team scored.
THE GOOD NEWS — FAST STARTS: Arkansas was rolling at McArthur Court, hitting three of its first four three-pointers to build an 11-2 lead to begin the game against Oregon. The Lady’Backs followed with the best half shooting the ball in just over four years at Portland State. Against Tulsa, the Lady’Backs held an 11-point lead late in the game.
THE BAD NEWS — SLOW FINISHES: The Lady’Back offense stalled with only three field goals in the final minutes of the first half to allow the Ducks to catch and pass Arkansas by intermission, 33-30. Same story, second verse at Portland State as the Lady’Backs hit only 21.6% for the second half and went on a two-minute per field goal pace down the stretch. Tulsa added to the woes with a 13-0 run at the end to down Arkansas.
DEFENSE FLEXES ON VIKINGS: The defensive end gave the offensive end every chance in the world at Portland State, holding the Vikings to only five free throws in the last five minutes of the game. In fact, PSU made a single point in the last three minutes of the game.
SPUTTERS: Arkansas’ offense has developed a problem, first allowing Oregon off the mat after building a 10-point lead early, 22-12, with a 3:05 scoreless stretch leading to a 10-0 Duck run to tie at 22-22. Same with Tulsa as the Lady’Backs’ stalled for the final three minutes of the game and let the Golden Hurricane score the final 13 points of the game.
COMEBACK: A 20-6 run by the Lady’Backs down the stretch rallied 14 points off the 17-point deficit to Oregon, including an 11-2 climax on the run.
BRINGING BALANCE TO THE FORCE: In the first two games this year, the starting five has produced four scoring, two assist and one rebounding high. Four of the five have scored 20 points each. In the opener, Whitney Jones (22) and Kristin Peoples (21) took the lead at SMU. Memphis learned from that game, fronted Jones and isolated Peoples. The result? A career high for Dominique Washington (25) and a career tie for Rochelle Vaughn (22) with Sheree Thompson scoring a season high (16).
A DEFENSE SO GOOD IT LOOKS LIKE OFFENSE: Arkansas shredded regional rival Memphis with series record numbers, racking up the most points in the 15-game series (99) and largest margin (46). The offensive outburst was set up by another outstanding defensive performance in the halfcourt. The Lady’Backs were hitting high percentage shots courtesy of 32 Lady Tiger turnovers.
99 PUNKTE: Somehow, it sounds even better in German (points=punkte) as Arkansas scored the most points to date of the Susie Gardner era against Memphis. The 99 points bettered 86 in a then-runaway versus Centenary in 2004 and was one shy of the first century game since December 2001 for Arkansas.
THANK YOU VERY MUCH: Arkansas left the building after Memphis with numerous career marks. Kristin Peoples got her career high for assists with eight. Rochelle Vaughn tied her scoring with 22. Sheree Thompson broke her rebound high with eight to lead the team. Ayana Brereton got scoring (8) and rebounding (5) bests as did Dominique Washington (25p, 7 r). Whitney Jones picked up her rebound and steal highs with five each.
BE ONE WITH THE BALL: Whitney Jones said she was focused on stopping her player, SMU leading scorer Janielle Dobbs, from scoring her 17 point average, then just letting the came to come to her. At the 3:29 mark in the second half, Jones became one with the game as a series of plays set the stage for Arkansas’ win. Jones drove inside to draw Joselyn Greenard’s second foul and sink a pair of free throws to cut SMU’s lead to one, 60-59. On the ensuing inbound, Jones’ steal from Dobbs gave Arkansas back the ball. Her offensive rebound kept the possession alive, then her driving layup gave UA the lead, 61-60. After a Julie Colli’s three, Jones responded with a three-point play of her own, a layup and Greenard’s fourth foul, that put Arkansas up for good, 64-63.
WORLD VIEW ON THREES: Really, more treys isn’t that big a surprise as historically, Arkansas has produced some of the SEC’s most prolific three-point shooters. On the SEC’s career top 10, Wendi Willits is the second all-time three-point shooter with 316 in her career, and Kimberly Wilson and India Lewis tie for sixth. Christy Smith just misses the SEC top 10, and that accounts for Arkansas’ career top four. Lewis (#4) and Willits (#5) rank in the three-point attempts while Smith is the seventh most accurate three-point shooter in SEC history. The one change this year is how many big guns Arkansas’ sports outside the arc.
SIGNING DAY NEWS: The Lady’Backs picked up four high school signees on the opening day of the early National Letter of Intent period. In-state, Arkansas signed Kendra Roberts, a 5-8 guard from Fort Smith, Ark., Northside High School. Susie Gardner picked up players from three neighboring states: Charity Ford, a 5-8 combo guard from Arlington, Texas, Juan Seguin; Tanisha Smith, a 6-2 forward from Kansas City, Mo., Lincoln Prep; and 6-3 forward Ashley Wilson of Byhalia, Miss.
SIGNEES ARE ON TO STATE: Tanisha Smith and Lincoln Prep swept their conference at 12-0 and stand at 20-4 for the season heading into postseason time in Missouri. Charity Ford and Seguin HIgh in Arlington, Texas, completed a perfect season in District 7-4A this week, and are awaiting pairings for the Texas bi-district tournaments.Ashley Wilson’s Byhalia High Lady Indians swept their division at 6-0 and will host the District 3-3A regional at BHS this coming weekend. Kendra Roberts and Northside High of Fort Smith are also undefeated in district play, taking a 13-0 mark in the 5-A West into this coming week’s games and claims no worse than a share of the district title.
KENDRA ROBERTS: The 5-8 guard averaged 16 ppg, 6 rpg, 9 apg and 2 spg as a junior for Fort Smith Southside High. Roberts was an all-conference and all-region pick for the Lady Rebels. Playing her summer AAU basketball with the Arkansas Kamikazi team, The former Southside High guard will participate for Northside this season for Lady Bears head coach Rickey Smith. As a freshman, she averaged 18 ppg and 10 rpg and was the district MVP at Trinity Junior High. Her sophomore season at Southside, she averaged 12 ppg, 6 rpg, 4 spg and 2 apg and was named to the state’s top 10 sophomore list by Southern Starzz.
THE ROBERTS UPDATE: Roberts is averaging 12 ppg to led the Lady Bears to an undefeated conference mark (13-0) and 21-3 overall. Northside clinched a share of its seventh straight 5-A West title last weekend, and Roberts was in double figures by halftime as NHS won its 54th consecutive home game for Coach Rickey Smith over Russellville. Roberts finished the game with 17.
TANISHA SMITH: The 6-2 guard-forward averaged 16 ppg, 10 rpg, 2 apg and 3 spg for Coach Jeff Atkins at Lincoln Prep Academy as a junior. Lincoln finished the season in the Missouri state title game with a 26-4 record. She averaged 14 ppg and 8 rpg as a sophomore for the Tigers. Her career highs are 39 points and 17 rebounds. A three-time first-team all-district pick, Smith was also a first-team Missouri Basketball Coaches Association Class AAAA all-state selection in 2005. She led her AAU team, Kansas City Keys, to a 62-3 mark this past summer for coach Harrell Johnson. The Keys reached the AAU Final Four in Orlando this year. Smith averaging 18 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 3.5 apg and 2.0 spg in AAU play, including a 31-point game against Cincinnati Nets, to earn AAU All-America honors.
THE SMITH UPDATE: Smith can add McDonald’s All-American nominee to her resume at the end of her senior season. Smith racked up 50 points in one pre-conference game for Lincoln Prep — half the team’s 98 points in the game. Considered one of the two best players in Kansas City this season, Smith received an award for her 1,000th career point at Lincoln toward the end of the regular season. She heads into the postseason averaging 27 ppg, 14 rpg, 5 apg and 3 spg.
CHARITY FORD: Ranked the No. 13 prospect in the state of Texas by TexasHoops, Ford averaged for Arlington’s Juan Seguin High. The co-MVP of District 7-AAAA, Ford averaged 18 ppg, 4.5 apg and 2.3 spg for the Lady Cougars last season she racked up 596 points as half of one of the strongest backcourts in the state of Texas.
THE FORD UPDATE: Now ranked as the No. 13 prospect in the state of Texas by TexasHoops.com, Ford is averaging 17.9 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 3.7 apg. 4.0 spg off 53.6% from the field through the first 25 games of her senior season. For the regular season, Ford ranked ninth in scoring among all 4A players in the North Dallas region with 17.2 ppg for the year. Seguin closed the regular season at 30-4 overall, sweeping through District 7-4A with a 14-0 mark. Seguin has the No. 1 offense in the DFW metro area averaging 68.5 ppg, more than five points per game better than No. 2 Seagoville and one of only three Class 4A teams averaging over 60 ppg. Defensively, Seguin is sixth in the region for the regular season giving up only 39.2 ppg. Ford finishes her SHS career undefeated in district play. Bi-district tournament play begins this weekend for Texas 4A schools.
ASHLEY WILSON: One of the top prospects from the state of Mississippi, Wilson did not participate in high school basketball last season while she was living in Ohio. The 6-3 swing post player currently attends Byhalia High School in Byhalia, Miss. The Indians’ leading scorer as a sophomore, Wilson is currently starting at point.
THE WILSON UPDATE: As the point guard, Wilson was name MVP of one of the Indians’ preconference tournaments. In a do-all roll for hte Lady Indians, Wilson recently pulled down seven rebounds as BHS moved to 21-6 overall to clinch the top seed and host role for the Region 3-3A tournament next week in a 50-49 win over Water Valley. Wilson is the team’s leading scorer with 12 ppg. Byhalia swept its division with a 6-0 mark.
PFEIFER OUT FOR THE SEASON: One day after being voted by the league’s coaches and media to the preseason all-SEC second team, returning leading scorer Sarah Pfeifer tore her ACL in her left knee during the opening minutes of the Red-White Game. Pfeifer had surgery on the knee in early November 2005 to begin the rehab process. The 2005 SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year, Pfeifer has already used a redshirt season in 2003 after a traumatic shoulder injury at the Loyola Marymount tournament. Regrettably, this marks the fourth major surgery (2003, left shoulder arthroscopic; 2004, left shoulder full cut; 2005, right shoulder full cut) in her Arkansas career.
LADY’BACKS VOTED PRESEASON 10TH AT SEC MEDIA DAYS: The Arkansas Lady Razorbacks were voted in a tie for 10th place with Mississippi State by the media assembled for this year’s basketball media days in Birmingham. The media seconded the endorsement of the coaches by voting Sarah Pfeifer to the preseason all-SEC second team. Prior to media day, the league coaches picked Pfeifer preseason second team. Defending champion LSU and Tennessee split most of the first-place votes, with UT getting the nod on points in the poll with 251, followed by LSU in second at 248 but one more first-place vote (11 to 10 for UT). Georgia was third with one first-place vote and 224. Vanderbilt rounded out the top four. Ole Miss, Auburn, Florida, Alabama and Kentucky were next before Arkansas and Miss State. South Carolina was voted 12th.
LUNCH WITH SUSIE: Arkansas head coach Susie Gardner’s final luncheon is Monday, Feb. 27. The luncheons begin at 11:30 at the Clarion Hotel. Cost is $8.50 for the buffet. For more questions, contact Lady’Back marketing at 575-7312.
LIVE LADY’BACKS: Arkansas will provide all games from Bud Walton Arena not available on cable television via LADYBACKS.COM video streaming, plus the Arkansas road game from Oregon via a shared feed in the XOS system. This means that 19 of Arkansas’ 27 regular season games can be viewed live by cable or internet.



Sports Category : Basketball (W)