ABOUT THE COMMODORES: Familiar faces fill the starting lineup with point guard Dee Davis leading the way. She has a pair of favorite targets with post Carla Thomas and wing Caroline Williams. The Commodores are very accurate on offense — over 50% from the field, 40% from three and 75% at the line. Vanderbilt pounded Arkansas in the first meeting, and tries to get the sweep. Last season, the teams split home-and-home.
SINCE WE LAST VISITED: Arkansas has won three of the last five SEC games while Vanderbilt has lost three of its last five league contests.
ONE EXTREME TO ANOTHER: After facing one of the nation’s best defenses, Arkansas now gets one of country’s most accurate and prolific offenses. Vanderbilt as a team is almost hitting 50% from the field to rank fourth in the nation, and certainly had no problem with that against Arkansas in early January. The Commodores cranked out 61.7% from the field, doubling Arkansas’ 30.4%. Vandy is 8th in points scored, 5th in assists and No. 1 in three-point percentage.
MISLEADING REBOUNDING: Don’t get happy about the rebounding stats for Sunday as the Commodores average only 34.9 rpg and a +0.5 rebound margin. If you don’t miss many, you don’t have many to rebound.
THE GAMES ARE GETTING IMPORTANT: As we close January, there is a large crowd in the middle that is about to be separated. Two of the three teams tied at fifth meet this afternoon — Arkansas and Vanderbilt.
THE QUEENS OF THE MIDWAY MEET: The top two assist-makers in the SEC face off once again. Vanderbilt’s Dee Davis leads the SEC and is sixth in the nation at 6.5 apg, while Arkansas’ Brittney Vaughn is second and eighth in the nation at 6.4 apg in the most recent NCAA statistics (1/21/07).
AS VAUGHN GOES, SO GOES ARKANSAS: Not very often you can find a clear, compelling single statistic, but the performance of point guard Brittney Vaughn is about as close to that as you will get. In Arkansas’ 18 victories, Vaughn is 1.8:1 for assists to turnovers with 6 apg and only 3.3 turnovers. She also shoots 44% from the field for 7.6 ppg with 4.2 rpg and 2.4 steals. In the four losses, she is 1.1:1 for assists to turnovers, hits only 28.6% from the field and averages six turnovers per game. At LSU, Vaughn had one of her least productive games with a single assist and three turnovers.
BUT DON’T OVERLOOK THE OTHER GUARDS: In Arkansas’ 18 wins, Donica Cosby hits 38.6% from the field and 37.8% from the arc. Dominique Washington is 34.4% and 38.7% on treys. In the four losses, Cosby drops to 32.3% but a mere 23.5% from range. Washington improves on threes to 42.9%, but her overall scoring drops to only 5.2 ppg from 8.4 ppg. Cosby’s scoring actually goes up in the losses from 11.3 ppg to 15 ppg. So do her turnovers — Cosby has 4.3 per game in the losses and only 2.0 in the wins.
THE CONSTANT?: Win or lose Lauren Ervin averages 12.8 ppg. However, Ervin’s rebounding is the indicator here — 11.4 in the wins and only 7.5 in the losses.
AS SIMPLE AS BAD SHOOTING: Arkansas and LSU both shot 59 times, but the Lady’Backs hit only 32.2% while the Lady Tigers were 44.1%. Actually, maybe two problems as Arkansas usually shoots more than its opponents.
HEY, IT WAS BETTER THAN AVERAGE: While 32.2% might sound bad, consider that’s more than LSU’s opponent average — which is No. 2 in Division I at 30.7%. Even though it was a season low for Arkansas with 53 points, again consider that LSU is the No. 1 team in the country in scoring defense.
IF YOU BELIEVE IN TRENDS: Dominique Washington will be due with Vanderbilt. The senior has alternated double-digit games with single digit frustration since the start of 2007.
TWO BAD INDICATORS: It may not be your night when the 6-4 center is the leading three-point shooter and the 5-7 guard has about as good a chance at a double double as the 6-4 center. Lauren Ervin was 1-of-4 from behind the arc in her 16 points with eight boards. Meanwhile Donica Cosby was only 1-of-5 from three-point range, but also had eight rebounds — and got their in less time than Ervin.
MAYBE IT’S THE RIMS: Arkansas had one of its best free throw shooting nights of the year with 13-of-14 at LSU. Unfortunately, so did LSU hitting a highly uncharacteristic 17-of-20.
THAT ISN’T GOING TO CUT IT: Arkansas had only 20 points from the starters at LSU, and 16 of that came from Lauren Ervin. Charity Ford and Dominique Washington were scoreless, and Danielle Allen and Brittney Vaughn contributed only two each.
THERE’S GOOD AND BAD FROM THE BENCH: Donica Cosby brought 15 points from the bench in only 29 minutes played. But, the freshman had only 4-of-11 from the field with 1-of-5 from the arc. Where Cosby made up ground was at the line as she forced three fouls and converted all six free throws.
CLOSING ON A NCAA SWEEP: For the first time in a long time, Arkansas has players ranked in most of the individual top 100 stats for Division I, and two that are top 20. In the Jan. 21 stats, Brittney Vaughn continues at 8th in assists and now joins in at 88th in steals. Lauren Ervin is 11th in field goal percentage, 12th in rebounds and 26th in blocked shots. In spite of two poor games, Dominque Washington holds in the rankings at 37th for three-point percentage and 66th for three-pointers per game. Points per game and free throw percentage are the only two areas without a Lady’Back. Interestingly, Vanderbilt has only five areas — points and field goal percentage ofr Carla Thomas (73rd and 30th), assists for Dee Davis (6th) and three-pointers for Caroline Williams (4th on pct, 13th on production).
INCOMING!: As you might expect from Commodores, Vanderbilt has mastered long range artillery. Caroline Williams is the big gun, bringing the three-pointer 2.8 times per game with a 47.5% accuracy. As a team, Vanderbilt is No. 1 in the nation in three-point percentage and 34th in production.
STAY AT 26 IN THE AP: Lady’Backs held their spot as the top of the also receivings. It is the same spot Arkansas had last week and seven weeks ago just before moving into the poll at 25. While Arkansas commands the 26th spot by a wide margin, the 2-0 run of the SEC’s bottom teams did not impress the voters enough to move the Lady’Backs ahead of Nebraska, who slip into the poll this week at 25th.
VERSUS VANDERBILT: The Commodores lead the series 14-5, but Arkansas snapped a five-game streak in the first meeting of the two teams last season. The return game in Nashville saw Vandy pull out the win last year.
LAST TIME WITH VANDY: OK, this was record bad at Nashville as the Commodores blindsided Arkansas in the SEC opener for both teams, resulting in the largest margin of victory and the most points scored by Vandy in the series. For more notes, see the game-by-game section.
LAST TIME IN FAYETTEVILLE: Brittney Vaughn scored only five points against Vandy, but they proved the most important as Arkansas held off the Commodore rally to win in OT. Leading by five at half, Vandy took a late lead that Vaughn erased with a reverse layup in the final seconds then a halfcourt buzzer-beater to send the game to overtime. Arkansas trailed in the OT, but clutch shots sealed the win. Defense dominated as Arkansas held Vandy to 37% from the field for the game — 32% while building the lead and giving up only 19 first-half points then 16% in OT.
SOMETIMES, IT CAN BE A SIMPLE GAME: Arkansas is 12-0 when it outrebounds the opponent; 6-4 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).
THE BEST THINGS ON THE COURT ARE FREE: Arkansas has made a dramatic turnaround at the line to start this season. The Lady’Backs continue to force the game offensively on opponents, and have made almost as many free throws — 300 — than opponents have shot — 337. Arkansas is shooting just over 70% at the line for the year. Every Lady’Back has been to the line and hit throws.
FAST PACE TO EARLY SCHEDULE: The Lady’Backs play three games in five days starting with Lipscomb, a good simulation for the three-straight they will face at the Rainbow Wahine next week in Hawai’i. At the end of the Wahine, Arkansas had a fourth of its schedule finished with eight games in the first 17 days of the season. As a result, Arkansas has more game days — 8 — than practice days — 7 — in the early schedule. By the last game before the final exam break — Texas Southern — Arkansas played 10 games in 25 days.