ABOUT THE LADY RAZORBACKS: Arkansas heads into the final stretch with new starters to make a push for the SEC tournament seeding. Lauren Ervin is the leader, the first double-double player on average for Arkansas since the late 1980s. Offensive consistency haunts Arkansas in SEC play, and has stressed a solid defensive team to its limit.
ABOUT THE LADY VOLS: Tennessee arrives at Walton Arena as the 2007 SEC regular season champions after eliminating the final mathematical possiblity with LSU on Monday. Candace Parker leads an all-star parade that includes one of the league’s best three-point shooters in Sidney Spencer.
SENIOR NIGHT AT ARKANSAS: The Lady Razorbacks say farewell to four senior players with tonight’s game with Tennessee: Dominique Washington, Danielle Allen, Leslie Howard and Sarah Pfiefer.
COSBY TO MISS UT GAME: Freshman Donica Cosby is suspended from participation in the Tennessee game following a violation of UA Women’s Athletic Department policy. This is a one-game suspension. She continues to practice, but will not dress for Thursday’s game.
IF THE TOURNAMENT WERE HELD TODAY: Arkansas is the 10 seed, facing the seventh seed. Heading into this final week, the 7 is Kentucky. That’s one of the eventual scenarios, but oh my are there possibilities.
BUT IT’S SENIOR NIGHT: Turning our attention for the time being to the final game in the Cardinal and White of our four senior basketball players.
DOMINIQUE WASHINGTON: A transfer to Arkansas from Pensacola Junior College, Dominique Washington leaves Arkansas with one of the greatest game in SEC play, her school-record breaking 37 point effort at Ole Miss in the final game of last season. It remains the most points in a SEC regular season game. As a senior, Washington has 12 starts — including tonight — and has been Arkansas’ best three-point shooter for the season. Her seven three-pointers at Auburn was one of the best efforts in school history for a single game, and the best since all-time leader Wendi Willits in a conference game. She currently ranks eighth all-time in three-point goals made and 10th in attempts.
DANIELLE ALLEN: Completing her comeback from knee surgery last season, Allen played in all but one game this season for the Lady’Backs, and started 16 contests for Arkansas. The teams’ leading rebounder her sophomore season, she missed the start of her junior year with the birth of her son, Caden. Returning to lineup at the end of 2006, she suffered a torn ACL that ended the year. As a senior, she had 14 points and eight boards in Arkansas season-opening upset of Clemson on the road. Allen is set to graduate on-time this spring with her degree in communications.
LESLIE HOWARD: One of the top three-point shooters in recent years, Howard transfered to Arkansas from Colorado. A mid-term transfer, Howard jumped almost immediately into SEC play and was one of the top three-point shooters in league games last year with 49. Howard as Arkansas’ leading scorer in SEC games last year with 11.2 ppg. She played in 27 games this season, starting eight times. She has struggled to regain her shooting form from last season, but has produced big shots in Arkansas wins over Auburn and Alabama.
SARAH PFEIFER: The eternal senior plays her final official game at Walton Arena (yes, she can appeal for reinstatement of her original sophomore year). Arkansas’ nominee for numerous post-graduate awards include the SEC Boyd McWhorter Scholar-Athlete, she is on the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America ballot and a finalist for the Lowe’s CLASS Award. On the court, she has returned to a starting position after missing last year with a torn ACL to become Arkansas’ third rebounder and scorer this season. In spite of her three shoulder surgeries, she continues to be one of the top rebounders, picking up a career-tying 12 at Miss State for only the third double-double of her career. She ranks 26th all-time in scoring with 753 points so far in her career and is three rebounds away from breaking into the career top 30 at 347.
MEANWHILE, BACK AT THE TOURNAMEN — HERE’S WHAT WE KNOW TODAY: Tennessee is the No. 1 seed of the 2007 SEC Tournament. Florida and Alabama must play the night games on the first day. Arkansas must play the day games on the first day. Georgia is a lock for a first day bye.
AND THE FUN BEGINS, TOP HALF: Vanderbilt and LSU meet in Nashville Thursday to cast the fate of the other two opening round byes for the tournament. The winner has tiebreaker and goes to 10 wins. Loser drops to four wins and awaits Sunday’s outcome plus the result of Ole Miss vs. Auburn for Lady Rebel senior day. Guess who has tiebreaker in either a LSU or Vandy tie with Ole Miss — that’s right, Carol Ross.
AND THE FUN BEGINS, DAY ONE: Seven of the eight teams to play on the first day of the tournament are set. With three game spacing in the win column and two left to play, all teams with six and less losses are out of the bye mix. One of LSU, Vanderbilt or Ole Miss falls out of the byes into the five seed.
FOR ARKANSAS: The only way out of the 10 seed is victories this week, and that will only carry Arkansas as far as the 8-9 game thanks to lacking tiebreaker advantage over South Carolina.
VAUGHN CLIMBING ASSIST LADDER: How improved in this area is the junior? Beginning the season, she had 169 assists in her career. So far this season, Vaughn has 159. That brings her to 329 and jumps her from possible entry all the way to No. 8 all-time at Arkansas. Her seven with Carolina moved her past Juliet Jackson. Four more will put her past Arkansas’ 2007 SEC Tournament Great Honoree, Kimberly Wilson, and Donna Wilson in sixth.
VERSUS TENNESSEE: The Lady’Vols enjoy an 18-1 lead in the series, but the one victory for Arkansas came in Fayetteville back in 1996.
LAST MEETING WITH UT: The Lady’Backs stifled the Lady Vol offense in the first half, holding UT to only 37% from the field and frustrating the much taller home team. Arkansas cut into Tennessee’s halftime lead in the second half, and had a 10-point game at Knoxville in the early second half. Moments later, Arkansas looked up after a torrential UT attack producing a near 30-point run at a 40-point deficit.
LAST TIME IN FAYETTEVILLE: After Vandy, a rematch with #6 Tennessee seemed daunting. It followed a script similar to the first meeting, but this time Arkansas’ second-half rally came much closer before the Lady Vols put the game away. Again thwarted by a poor shooting first half — only 21.4% — Arkansas tore into Tennessee for a 49-45 second half off 56.3% from the field. Sarah Pfeifer and Sheree Thompson each had 17 and Danielle Allen added another double-double.
PFEIFER NAMED ESPN THE MAGAZINE ACADEMIC ALL-DISTRICT: Senior Sarah Pfeifer was voted by the membership of CoSIDA to the first team all-district squad last week, which puts the 5-11 post on the national ballot for ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America. Pfeifer joins rare company with her honor — only two other Lady Razorbacks have made the national ballot. Her coach, Amber Nicholas Shirey, was a two-time academic all-American, while her former teammate, Kristin Peoples, made the third team all-America last season. Pfeifer was a second-team all-district selection as a sophomore, missing last year for injury. She is only the fourth player to ever make the all-district team. Trivia time: who was the fourth? Sally Moore in 1991.