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Arkansas heads to Starkville for return game with Lady Bulldogs

BY ANDRES FOCIL
Arkansas heads to Starkville for return game with Lady Bulldogs

ABOUT THE LADY BULLDOGS: Miss State has experienced its share of injuries and up-and-down play since beating Arkansas, but the Lady Bulldogs are riding very high after a last second game winner at Ole Miss on Sunday. If the starting lineup holds, MSU will start no seniors and only one player over six-foot against the Lady’Backs. It is a team effort with a short rotation of nine players.

TV TIME FOR ARKANSAS: The Lady’Backs are live from Starkville on Thursday night, the first midweek game for Arkansas in the SEC package. Tip off is 8:00 PM as this is the second game of a double-header night on Fox Sports Net. Leah Segundo and Van Chancellor will have the call.

NOT A GOOD SIGN: If memory serves, Arkansas is oh-for-Van on Fox. Back in the day, the Lady’Backs were also winless against the former head coach of the Ole Miss Lady Rebels in Oxford.

SINCE WE LAST VISITED: Miss State was 9-5 when the Lady Bulldogs visisted Walton Arena, and Arkansas was still ranked 20th at 15-2 overall. MSU is 3-3 after beating Arkansas, while the Lady’Backs are 3-3.

STARTING CHANGE MAKES A DIFFERENCE: Alexis Rack is in the starting five now for Miss State, and the freshman tore into Ole Miss with 18 points.

CONFERENCE RACE HITS MIDPOINT: This week marks the first all-up six-by-six game week in the SEC (counting Monday’s TV game between Georgia and Tennessee as a part of Sunday’s games). Fates and seeds begin to be cast. Five of the teams are stuck within a half-game of each other at the midway point of the season, but that will change by next Monday with several key matchups.

WINS CLOSE; LOSSES, NOT SO MUCH: Arkansas and Miss State share that in common, in particular in the last week. Arkansas dropped back-to-back SEC games to ranked teams by wide margins while Miss State pulled out a pair of last minute games on the road, including a double-OT win at Kentucky and a last-minute shot at Ole Miss. The previous week? Role reversal as Arkansas got a pair of road rally wins while Ole Miss dropped wide margins to LSU and Tennessee.

GOOD NEWS WITH VANDY?: Well, yes. Arkansas becomes only the second team to hold Vanderbilt under 40% from the field, and severely kinked one of the nation’s top offenses by keeping the Commodores to only 61 points.

THAT LEFT A MARK: Arkansas reset several lows for SEC games against Vanderbilt, including low points, low field goals and low field goal percentage. Arkansas tied marks for low points in a half and low field goals in a half. The effort also reset several Walton Arena low marks.

AND THAT’S PROBABLY A RECORD: Arkansas missed its first 14 shots of the game, 16 if you add the two missed field goals to start with Vanderbilt. The 16-0 start set the wrong tone for the game as the Commodores were able to play keepaway the rest of the game.

UNFORTUNATELY, ONE MORE: Arkansas had season lows for field goal percentage, three-point percentage and free throw percentage against Vandy, plus the least points by the starting five — 15.

VERSUS MISS STATE: Arkansas leads the series with the Lady Bulldogs, 13-10, but had a four-game winning streak snapped at home. At Starkville, the Lady’Backs trail 6-3 to State.

NO LEAD IS SAFE: In the series, never say never. The last meeting saw Miss State come back from a 10-point second half deficit to a nine-point victory — a 19-point swing. No big deal as Arkansas made one of its greatest comebacks ever — and one of the largest in NCAA history — by rallying from down 17 to MSU at the 2005 SEC Tournament for a seven-point win — a 24 point swing.

DIRTY LITTLE SECRETS: In Arkansas’ SEC losses, Donica Cosby is the leading scorer with 14.8 ppg, but she’s hitting only 32.3% and shooting 15.5 times per game. Meanwhile, Lauren Ervin can barely get to the ball with only eight shots per game in the four losses. She’s hitting 50% — the top percentage among the regulars — but isn’t getting to take the shots — plus her rebounds are only half her season average at 6.8 rpg. Brittney Vaughn dominates the minutes in the four losses with a 32 minute average — the only player over 30. You’d expect Vaughn to be high in turnovers and she is with 20, but a close second is Cosby with 14 (and only five assists).

NOT SO SECRET: Arkansas is hitting only 32.6% in SEC losses and just 34.5% in all SEC games. For the last five games, it is 33.7% with only Lauren Ervin over 56.6%. Of course, in the last two games it is a mere 27.6% with no regular player over 45%. Ayana Brereton is at 66.7% off just 2-of-3 and Danielle Allen at 50% with 1-of-2. The notables: Ervin at 42.1%, Donica Cosby at 33.3% and Sarah Pfeifer at 21.4%. But the most shocking is Dominique Washington at 0-of-10.

LAST MEETING WITH MSU: The Lady Bulldogs scored only their second win ever at Walton Arena with a tenacious offense that rallied from a late 10-point deficit to victory. The Lady’Backs were up 44-34 at the 18 minute mark of the second half, only to see the lead slowly dribble away as the starters went flat for Arkansas. Sarah Pfeifer came off the bench for a season high 21 points and Mississippi native Donica Cosby added 19. With 49 from the bench, Arkansas had only one starter in double digits as Lauren Ervin managed 12 points and seven rebounds in only 23 minutes due to early foul trouble. Marneshia Richard had 23 to lead four Lady Bulldogs in double-digits.

POWER IN THE PAINT?: Even though Arkansas enjoys a height advantage with the Lady Bulldogs, Miss State took it to the Lady’Backs inside with a 48-40 advantage on points in the paint. State also doubled up Arkansas on second-chance points, 18-9. State also was +13 rebounds for the game and +9 on the offensive glass.

LAST TIME AT MSU: It proved to be a game for the ages as Arkansas won its first-ever SEC road opener. Arkansas pounded State with a 20-9 advantage in points off turnovers and 19-4 on second-chance points as the Lady’Backs led by as many as 25 before coasting home for a 21-point win. Kristin Moore ruled the lane with a double-double, but Arkansas had a total effort from the offense with every player but one scoring. Dominique Washington came off the bench for 14 points in 21 minutes.

SOMETIMES, IT CAN BE A SIMPLE GAME: Arkansas is 12-0 when it outrebounds the opponent; 6-5 when not.

NEVER-NEVERS: So far this year, Arkansas is undefeated when it holds the opponent under 60 (12-0) and holding the opponent under 40% from the field (13-0).



Sports Category : Basketball (W)