FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. –- Home games with Texas and Oklahoma highlight the non-conference portion of Arkansas’ men’s basketball schedule, which was released on Thursday, but the Razorbacks also play host to a tournament and play 22 games inside the state this season.
The Jim Thorpe Classic is being played in Bud Walton Arena where Arkansas faces a pair of conference champions in Austin Peay on Dec. 17 and Stephen F. Austin on Dec. 20. ASU and SFA play on Dec. 19 with no charge for admission to that game. Austin Peay won the Ohio Valley Conference title last year while SFA won the Southland Conference regular season title.
Texas visits Fayetteville for the first time since 1991 on Jan. 6 and Oklahoma returns to Bud Walton Arena for the first time since 2002 on Dec. 30.
“Arkansas is once again playing a good non-conference schedule,” second-year head coach John Pelphrey says. “Texas is back on and we’re playing Oklahoma for the second year in a row. We also have three non-conference games against defending conference champions (Austin Peay, South Alabama, Stephen F. Austin) and another against a team that was in the NCAA Tournament two years ago and won 20 games last season (North Texas).”
The Razorbacks are coming off a 23-12 season, which included advancing to the finals of the Southeastern Conference Tournament and reaching the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Pelphrey’s team lost four of five starters and returns just three lettermen, but this year’s recruiting class is ranked No. 11 in the nation by ESPN.com, No. 13 by CBSSports.com, No. 16 by Rivals and No. 24 by Scout.
“This will be a very challenging schedule for us,” Pelphrey says. “The SEC is always competitive. We have early road games at Missouri State and South Alabama, but we get a couple of extra home games with the Jim Thorpe Classic. I’m also looking forward to going back to North Little Rock (UNT). Counting that game, we have a stretch of 10 home games from the end of November through the start of conference play. We are young, but this schedule will be good for us.”
Arkansas begins the year with the Red-White Game on Oct. 24. This year’s Red-White Game is a doubleheader with the women’s team.
Exhibition games against Campbellsville University (Nov. 3) and Dillard University (Nov. 6) follow before the Nov. 14 season-opener against Southeastern Louisiana, which was 17-13 a year ago.
Arkansas plays host to California-Davis on Nov. 20 before road dates at Missouri State (Nov. 22) and at Sun Belt champion and NCAA Tournament qualifier South Alabama (Nov. 26).
Three straight home games against Florida A&M (Nov. 29), Texas Southern (Dec. 3) and North Carolina Central (Dec. 10) lead up to the Jim Thorpe Classic.
Northwestern State visits Fayetteville on Dec. 27, and between the Oklahoma and Texas games, the Razorbacks face North Texas in North Little Rock’s Alltel Arena on Jan. 3.
The SEC portion of the schedule gets started Jan. 10 with a home game against Mississippi State. Auburn (Jan. 24), Alabama (Jan. 29), Tennessee (Feb. 4), Kentucky (Feb. 14), LSU (Feb. 18), Georgia (March 1) and Ole Miss (March 4) complete the conference home schedule. UA’s league road schedule includes games at Ole Miss (Jan. 14), Florida (Jan. 17), LSU (Jan. 31), Mississippi State (Feb. 7), Auburn (Feb. 11), South Carolina (Feb. 21), Alabama (Feb. 25) and Vanderbilt (March 8).
The Georgia game at 3:05 p.m. on Sunday, March 1, concludes “Celebration of a Championship” weekend in which the 1994 national championship team is scheduled to be honored.
The SEC Tournament is March 12-15 in Tampa, Fla. The NCAA Tournament first round is March 19-20.
The home schedule includes seven games against NCAA Tournament teams from last year (Austin Peay, Oklahoma, Texas, Mississippi State, Tennessee, Kentucky and Georgia). It also includes two games against teams earning a spot in the post-season NIT (Stephen F. Austin, Ole Miss) and one other against a 20-game winner (North Texas, 20-11).
Overall, Arkansas plays 10 games against teams playing in last year’s NCAA Tournament and four against teams advancing to the NIT.
The Razorbacks are scheduled to appear on ESPN or ESPN2 three times (Northwestern St., Texas, Alabama home game), and on CBS once (Kentucky). Raycom is airing seven regular season games and FSN two. The ARSN schedule will be announced at a later date.