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Gators visit for Sunday SEC showdown

BY ANDRES FOCIL
Gators visit for Sunday SEC showdown

SALUTE TO SWEAT HAWGS DELAYED: With the ice storms, wide-spread power outages and elementary schools out for almost all of this week, the special Sweat Hawgs promotion originally set for Sunday’s Florida game is rescheduled for the Alabama game on Feb. 22. All vouchers issued for the Florida game will be honored on Feb. 22, and the originally scheduled Sweat Hawg halftime will take place that day.HEY, YOU LOOK FAMILIAR: Not only is Florida the Eastern Division rotating partner for Arkansas, the Razorbacks and Gators shared a tournament this season in the Bahamas. While both teams were at Junkanoo Jam, each SEC team was in their own four-team division. Arkansas was the consolation winner of its division while Florida swept its division.SUPER SUNDAY: Today’s game marks XIIIth time Arkansas has played on Super Sunday. Overall, the Razorbacks are IV-VIII on the day the Super Bowl is played. Last season, Arkansas was on the road at USC. While Arkansas is home today, the Razorbacks have toured the league on Super Sunday with stops at Columbia, Starkville, Tuscaloosa, Auburn, Lexington (II) and Knoxville. Since joining the SEC, Arkansas has only been off once — a bye week from IV years ago. The practice of Sunday games did not start until Arkansas joined the SEC, which moved its women’s league games to a regular Thursday-Sunday rotation starting in 1999. Previously, the weekend game was optional, but often was played on Sunday. Two of the Super Sunday games were non-conference — the first at West Virginia in 1992 and Iowa at home in 2000. The Southwest Conference never played Sunday conference games, and Arkansas rarely if ever scheduled non-conference games on Sunday prior to joining the SEC.WHEN THE RAZORBACKS WIN . . . : Well, not exactly the last minute predictor for your Super Sunday wagers. Arkansas is no predictor for any team, but does have a trend for leagues. The AFC team is 3-5 when Arkansas loses its game on Super Bowl Sunday, 3-2 when Arkansas wins.COMMON GAMES: Both teams defeated Miss State and both teams lost to Auburn. The only other common game was a split — Florida defeated Kentucky in their last contest while the Razorbacks fell at Lexington two weeks ago. In non-conference, both teams pounded Stetson.WAKE UP THE ECHOES?: If the SEC tournament were played today, Florida would be back in the byes.WHO KNOWS WHAT HAPPENS NEXT: For three straight fact sheets, we’ve had something along the lines of “Ashley McCray posts a career high . . .” In only 28 minutes at Vanderbilt, McCray dominated the ‘Dores with 20 points and 15 rebounds, resetting both numbers set in the previous two games.YOUR CEIRA RICKETTS NOTE DU JOUR: With her 17 points at Vanderbilt, Ceira Ricketts has averaged more points against SEC opponents — 14 ppg — than non-conference opponents — 13.7 ppg. And who was the last Razorback women’s basketball player to score more points against the SEC competition than non-conference — that would be the freshman year of future SEC Player of the Year, AP All-American and WNBA first-round draft pick Shameka Christon. Neither of Arkansas’ previous SEC Freshman of the Year — Christy Smith or Karyn Karlin — could achieve that statistical feat.SCHOOL RECORD FOR LEAGUE GAME: The 58 rebounds against Vanderbilt broke the mark for SEC games by five (twice Arkansas hit 53). The 28 offensive boards tops the SEC game mark by six. The 58 boards also bests the most in a Southwest Conference game (57 against TCU in 1989), thus giving this team the best effort in a conference game. If you were wondering, the 58 boards isn’t even close to the school mark. That would be 77 boards against Mississippi Valley State in 1989.JONES GETS SEC GAME MARK: Whitney Jones pulled down nine offensive rebounds, breaking Lauren Ervin’s mark of seven set against Florida two years ago. Her career and team-season best 17 rebounds was three off the overall record set by Ervin in the same game.WHAT’S HOT: In the last three games: WHITNEY JONES is pulling down 10.3 rpg ASHLEY McCRAY is hitting 71.4% FG CEIRA RICKETTS is scoring 17.3 ppg and the best at the line with 86.7% REBOUNDING — Arkansas is +9.3WHAT’S NOT: In the last three games: TURNOVERS — Arkansas is -5.7 per game FOULS with 17.3 leading to opponents shooting almost twice as many free throws (36 UA vs. 71 for opps)DOGS AND CATS LIVING TOGETHER: About as likely as Arkansas outrebounding Vanderbilt, but the Razorbacks doubled the Commodores with a historic +30 rebound margin. Along with the school record for rebounds in a conference game with 58, Arkansas also dominated the lane with a 34-26 scoring advantage in the paint.DOUBLING DOWN: Arkansas had a pair of double-double performances at Vanderbilt with 20 points and 15 boards from Ashley McCray and 10 points and 17 rebounds by Whitney Jones. The Razorbacks almost had a triple with 17 points from Ceira Rickets with seven rebounds.TURNOVER WORST: Arkansas’ boards at Vanderbilt were undone by a -14 turnover margin.A WEEK (AND A HALF) TO REMEMBER: Ashley McCray came into the third week of January with 40 points on her stat sheet, only three points in SEC games and averages of 2 ppg and 2.2 rpg. The junior college transfer turned it up against Tennessee with 12 points, but floored it at Miss State and Vanderbilt. McCray scored a a then season/career high 14 points to lead Arkansas to its first win over a SEC team. She backed it up with a career double with 20 points and 15 rebounds at Vanderbilt. For the last three games, McCray shot 71% from the field and 67% at the line. She averaged 15.3 ppg and 9.3 rpg for the week.TOP FROSH: It seems that 2009 is the year of the freshman in the SEC with huge recruiting classes playing significant roles at several schools. Of all the freshman, Arkansas’ Ceira Ricketts has established herself as the statistical leader of a talented class. POINTS: 13.6 ppg (#1 Freshman, 7th overall) REBOUNDS: 6.4 rpg (#2 Freshman, 14th) FG %: .469 (#1 Freshman-4th) ASSISTS: 3.4 apg (#1 Freshman-9th) STEALS: 2.9 spg (#1 Freshman-1st) ASST-TO RATIO: 1.5 (#1 Freshman-5th) DEF. BOARDS: 4.6 (#1 Freshman-8th)DID WE MENTION: At 12th in the SEC for rebounding, it should be noted that everyone ahead of Ceira Ricketts is taller than the 5-9 guard, and nine of the 11 are 6-0 or above.SERIES: The Gators lead the series, 18-6, and have an 8-3 lead in games at Fayetteville. Florida swept the two-game set last year, but since the turn of the 21st century neither team had won three straight. Florida went on a nine-game run in the late 1990s, but since Arkansas dispatched the Gators in Chattanooga in 2001 to end the run, the series is 4-3 in favor of Arkansas.BEWARE THE DEAD ZONE: For the Arkansas Razorbacks, the second media time out (the under 12:00 break) marks the start of an offensive black hole for the five game losing streak. Roughly around the 12 to 9 minute mark, Arkansas has suffered game-deciding runs. The hallmark of the runs are a lack of Arkansas offense, not an outpouring of opponent production. Throughout, the Arkansas defense is holding teams to “walks” rather than runs. Consider the two most recent losses. Tennessee held Arkansas scoreless for almost seven minutes starting at 8:33, but could only manage 11 points. Auburn limited Arkansas for almost five minutes starting at 11:50, but could only advance the margin eight points (11-3). Still, the second half stall has cost Arkansas five straight — Tennessee (11-0), Auburn (11-3), Kentucky (10-2), LSU (8-0, after an earlier 12-0 to start the half) and Texas Tech (15-1). To Arkansas credit, in every game, the Razorbacks made comebacks to narrow the gap, and played even basketball the final four minutes of each game. However, the damage was done by the final media time out near the 4:00 mark.DEFENSE DOWN THE STRETCH: Opponents must exploit the Dead Zone, because if they don’t, Arkansas defense will clamp down hard at the close of the game. The pressure is stronger on the road as the Razorbacks have allowed only one field goal in the final five minutes of the last three road conference games. Vanderbilt needed overtime to escape the 7:14 vise. Kentucky used free throws to overcome a 6:33 close without a field goal.PASTRY PROBLEMS: The Razorbacks are 1-7 when they force less than 15 turnovers from opponents, and a similar 1-7 when they commit more turnovers than the opponent.NOW 31ST IN TREYS: In spite of a string of lower than average three-point games (three, of course), Arkansas has stayed in the national top teams for three-pointers made per game. The Razorbacks are sinking 6.8 in the national stats to rank 31st, down two spots from last week’s 29th. In the SEC, Arkansas continues to lead the league. JUST WHEN YOU THINK YOU’VE GOT IT FIGURED OUT: Georgia throws the top of the table into turmoil by downing undefeated Auburn. Two missed field goals and one overtime allowed Vanderbilt to stay in that three-way tie for first. Tennessee needed a last moment three-pointer to stay a half-game back of the leaders. Only Florida had an easy time among the teams in the bye-zone. The results leave Arkansas only one game from eighth, and has tie-breaker if they can reach Miss State in seventh. In other words, nothing is decided with the stretch run starting for February.HOWDY PARTNERS: Auburn is the Razorback’s SEC West rotating partner for this season. Arkansas returns to Auburn on the final day of the regular season. Florida is Arkansas’ Eastern rotator, but will be at Gainesville in just over two weeks.LET’S EXPLAIN THIS, FOR THE LAST TIME: The SEC women’s teams do not play the divisional schedule as the men’s teams, and have a 14-game schedule that breaks down this way: once against the entire conference plus home-and-home with the rival/travel partner, home-and-home with a rotating Western Division member and home-and-home with a rotating Eastern Division team. For Arkansas, that means home-and-home with LSU (rival), Auburn (West rotator) and Florida (East rotator). Why the last time? The league voted to begin a 16-game schedule next season; however, the exact format is now being decided.



Sports Category : Basketball (W)