Arkansas (10-5, 0-3 SEC) vs. No. 7/9 Tennessee (13-2, 3-0 SEC)
|DATE||Sunday, Jan. 11, 2015|
|LOCATION||Bud Walton Arena | Fayetteville, Ark.|
|WATCH LIVE||ESPNU (Roy Philpott, Brooke Weisbrod)|
|LISTEN LIVE||Razorback Sports Network (Phil Elson, Erin Gatling)|
|LIVE STATS||Arkansas Game Center|
|GAME NOTES||Arkansas | Tennessee|
|STATISTICS||Arkansas | Tennessee|
|PRESS CONFERENCE VIDEO||Coach Dykes|
The University of Arkansas women’s basketball team concludes a difficult three-game stretch of facing three consecutive top 15-ranked opponents on Sunday when it welcomes No. 7/9 Tennessee to Bud Walton Arena. Arkansas has faced one of the most challenging schedules in the entire country to open its conference play. In fact, Arkansas is one of only two schools – Vanderbilt being the other – to open conference action with three of its first four games coming against opponents ranked inside the top 15. The last time Arkansas faced three ranked opponents in a row came in early January of 2012 when it played No. 17/15 Georgia, No. 11/9 Kentucky, and No. 6/7 Tennessee.
IN CASE YOU MISSED BERNA’S BUCKET
Senior Calli Berna swished a three-quarter court shot as time expired in the first half against Mississippi State Thursday night. Berna’s bucket was shown on SportsCenter’s Top 10 as the No. 1 play for the night. Relive her shot here.
BE ARKANSAS DAY
Sunday’s game is Be Arkansas Day as the first 200 fans in attendance will receive a Be Arkansas t-shirt. The shirts are unique in that the last names of those individuals who purchased Arkansas women’s basketball season tickets will be featured on the back of the shirt. Shirts will be passed out at the North, South, and West entrances. Hear Coach Dykes talk about Be Arkansas Day.
RAZORBACK BASKETBALL FIRST FIVE
1. “RELENTLESS” SCHEDULE
Sunday’s matchup with No. 7/9 Tennessee marks the last game of a brutal three-game stretch for the Razorbacks in SEC play as Arkansas has faced three-straight top 15-ranked opponents. In fact, Arkansas is one of only two teams in the entire country – Vanderbilt being the other – to begin conference play with three of its first four games coming against top 15-ranked opponents. Arkansas is 0-2 in the first two games of the stretch, losing on a buzzer beater to then-No. 5/8 Texas A&M Jan. 4 and dropping a 72-57 decision at No. 14/15 Mississippi State Jan. 8. This stretch of games marks the first time Arkansas has played three consecutive opponents ranked in the AP Top 25 since 2012 when the Hogs played No. 17/15 Georgia, No. 11/9 Kentucky, and No. 6/7 Tennessee in a row in early January.
“I want our players to be relentless and right now our schedule is relentless,” – head coach Jimmy Dykes.
2. CONFERENCE CALL FOR JACKSON
A 2014-15 Preseason All-SEC first team selection, sophomore Jessica Jackson seems to find an extra gear when it comes to competing in the nation’s toughest conference. During her freshman season, Jackson averaged 16.2 points and 6.2 rebounds per game and was named to the 2013-14 All-SEC freshman team and an All-SEC second team selection. In three conference games this season, she is averaging 14.7 points and 6.0 rebounds per game. Jackson has played in 20 career conference games and has scored in double figures in 15 of those games. In fact, she is averaging 16.8 points per game in 20 career SEC games compared to 14.1 points in 26 non-conference games, an uptick of 2.7 points per game.
3. BANK ON BROOKS
After appearing in all 30 games as a true freshman last season, sophomore Kelsey Brooks has inserted herself as a dynamic option for the Razorbacks this season. The Olathe, Kan., native is twice already this season a recipient of the SEC Player of the Week honors (Dec. 1 and 15) and leads the team and the conference in scoring with 16.5 per game. She also leads the team in steals per game (1.9), is second in assists per game (2.7), and is fourth on the team in rebounds per game (5.5). Brooks has started all 15 games and scored in double figures in 14 of them. In fact, she has led the team in scoring in nine games and has been over the 20 point-plateau three times. Brooks has made significant improvements in every statistical category from last season. Her biggest jump, however, is in scoring, where she is averaging 10 points more this season – 6.4 last season compared to 16.5 this season.
4. SCORING SOPHOMORES
Arkansas has received solid play from a pair of sophomores. Kelsey Brooks and Jessica Jackson lead the team in scoring, averaging 16.5 and 14.5 points per game, respectively. In fact, Jackson and Brooks have combined for 31.0 points and account for 47.0 percent of the team’s total scoring, the most of any duo in the SEC. Eight times this season the Jackson and Brooks duo have combined for over 30 points and twice this season they have combined for over 40 points in a game (46 vs. Iowa, 47 vs. Oklahoma).
5. HOGS CLEAN THE GLASS
Under first-year head coach Jimmy Dykes, rebounding the basketball has become a calling card for the Razorbacks. Arkansas possesses a +10.4 edge on the boards, ranking third in the SEC and 12th in the country. In fact, Arkansas has outrebounded 11 of 15 opponents this season, registering a 9-2 (.818) mark in those games. The four games in which the Hogs have been outrebounded are by a combined 19 boards. Arkansas has limited opponents’ second chances, ranking first in the SEC in defensive rebounding percentage at 73.0 percent.
• The Lady Volunteers enter Sunday’s game ranked No. 7/9, owning an overall mark of 13-2 and 3-0 in SEC play. Tennessee knocked down No. 9/8 Texas A&M, 81-58, at home on Jan. 8 to push its winning streak up to nine games.
• Tennessee ranks fourth in the SEC in scoring offense, averaging 75.1 points per game, while ranking third in scoring defense allowing 51.9 points per game.
• The Lady Vols rank first in the SEC in rebounding, with an advantage of +11.4
• Tennessee shoots 42 percent from the field, sixth in the SEC, and allows opponents to shoot 35.2 percent, seventh in the SEC.
• Ariel Massengale and Isabelle Harrison lead the team in scoring, averaging 12.0 and 11.4 points per game, respectively.
• Holly Warlick (Tennessee, ’81) is in her third season as head coach of the Lady Vols, with a record of 69-16 (.812). She is in her 30th season overall on staff at Tennessee as she was an assistant coach under the legendary Pat Summit from 1985-2012. Tennessee captured the SEC regular-season championship in Warlick’s first year (2012-13) and won the SEC Tournament championship in her second season.
• Arkansas trails the all-time series with Tennessee, 2-25, including a 1-12 mark in games played in Fayetteville. During each of those 27 meetings, Tennessee has been ranked inside the AP top 11. The last win for the Razorbacks in the series came Feb. 23, 2012, as Arkansas upset the No. 6/7 Lady Vols in overtime on the road, 72-71.
PREVIOUS GAME: NO. 14/15 MISSISSIPPI STATE 72, ARKANSAS 57 (Jan. 8, 2015)
The Razorbacks lost their third consecutive game to open conference play, losing 72-57 on the road to undefeated Mississippi State. Arkansas held a one-point lead at the under eight media timeout, but the Bulldogs answered with a 10-0 run over the next two minutes to take a nine-point lead and full control of the game. The starting backcourt of senior Calli Berna and sophomore Kelsey Brooks paced the Razorback offense, combining for 28 points and 13 rebounds. Berna gave Arkansas the lead at the half, after she swished a three-quarter court shot as time expired. The play was SportsCenter’s No. 1 play on Thursday night.
POSTGAME NOTES (Mississippi State, Jan. 8, 2015)
• Sophomore Kelsey Brooks scored 16 points today, the 14th time in 15 games she’s been in double figures. She scored 12 in the first half, the sixth time this season she’s been in double figures at the break.
• Senior Calli Berna scored 12 points, one shy of her season-high of 13.
• Arkansas was outrebounded for just the fourth time all season, losing the battle of the boards 41-34.
• Arkansas shot 60.9 percent from the field in the first half, a season-high percentage for any half this season
• The Razorbacks shot 18-21 (.857) from the free throw line, the highest percentage its shot this season
Arkansas Basketball Notes
The Razorbacks have demonstrated a balanced offensive attack this season, with three players averaging double-digit points (Brooks 16.5, Jackson 14.5, Bowen 11.1) and a fourth narrowly missing the threshold (Wolff 9.4). In fact, Arkansas is one of five teams in the SEC (Kentucky, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vanderbilt) to have at least three players averaging in double figures. Arkansas has received double digit scoring from at least three players in 12 of 15 games this season, with a record of 9-3 (.750) in those games.
A WOLFF ON THE BOARDS
Coined the “heart and soul” of the team by Coach Dykes, junior Melissa Wolff has been a key Hog in Arkansas’ rebounding numbers as she is averaging nearly a double-double with 9.4 points and 8.9 rebounds per game. In fact, Wolff has tallied four double-doubles already this season, the most on the team. Wolff has six career double-doubles, and Arkansas is 6-0 in games when she records a double-double. The Cabot, Ark., native very well could have had five more double-doubles added to her resume as she has been a double-double threat in just about every game this season. She nearly finished with a double-double against Iowa (9 and 10), South Dakota State (9 and 16), Rutgers (11 and 8), Missouri State (10 and 9) and Texas A&M (8 and 10). Wolff’s 8.9 boards per game leads the team and ranks third in the SEC.
Arkansas has shown an ability to put the clamps down defensively this season. In fact, the Razorbacks are holding opponents to 34.8 percent shooting from the field, ranking fifth in the conference while also holding opponents to 56.1 points per game. Furthermore, Arkansas owns a defensive efficiency rating of 85.3, holding its opponents to just 0.853 points per possession.
The Razorbacks have gotten after it on the defensive end of the floor and have held their opponents to without a field goal for large chunks of time. Through 15 games, 23 times the Razorback defense has held their opponent to without a field goal for over four minutes. Additionally, 16 times this season Arkansas has held their opponent to without a field goal for over five minutes. Arkansas held Tulsa to without a field goal for a 9:22 minute stretch on Dec. 14, a season-best for Arkansas’ defense.
Arkansas has recorded nine double-doubles from four different players. In comparison, Arkansas tallied 10 double-doubles all of last season. Junior Melissa Wolff has accounted for four double-doubles this season, giving her six for her career, as she went for 17 and 13 against Nicholls, 14 and 10 against Savannah State, 15 and 11 against Richmond, and 12 and 10 against Grambling. In fact, she’s recorded six double-doubles in 16 career starts. Senior Jhasmin Bowen has tallied two this season, going for 12 and 10 against Nicholls and 17 and 12 against Tulsa, giving her five for her career. Sophomore Jessica Jackson has seven career double-doubles, including two this season (19 and 12 vs. Savannah State, 18 and 10 vs. Texas A&M) while sophomore Kelsey Brooks recorded her first career double-double Nov. 23 against Northwestern State.
DISHING IT OUT
Along with one of the top point guards in all of college basketball in Calli Berna, the Razorbacks have distributed the ball effectively this season. Arkansas has assisted on 56.8 percent of its made field goals this season, including a season-best 78.9 percent (15 assists on 19 field goals) in a road win against MTSU Nov. 20. Berna ranks seventh in the conference with an individual assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.0:1. Berna ranks second in the conference, averaging 4.9 assists per game.
DON’T TAKE IT PERSONALLY
Arkansas’ relentless team defense has resulted in a number of defensive stat lines, but the one thing it has not resulted in is personal fouls called against them. Arkansas is averaging just 17.5 personal fouls called against them a game, resulting in opponents averaging 17.9 free throw attempts per game. In fact, Arkansas has committed less fouls than 10 of 15 opponents this season.
TOUGH ON THE ROAD
In non-conference play, the Razorbacks played away from Bud Walton Arena in six of their 12 games. Arkansas has established a perfect 6-0 (3-0 away, 3-0 neutral) mark in away/neutral site games, tied with South Carolina among SEC teams for the most wins coming away from home during the non-conference schedule.
The Razorbacks have grown accustomed to winning while donning the traveling red jerseys, having won their last 12 true non-conference road games in a row dating back to the 2009-10 season.
Senior Calli Berna stands in second place all-time in program history for assists with 574 career assists. Amy Wright (1998-02) owns the school record with 717 assists. In addition, Berna’s 574 career assists ranks her seventh for current active assist leaders in the NCAA.
HOME SWEET ARKANSAS
With a large portion of Razorback supporters scattered across Arkansas, the Hogs have a history of playing games throughout the state. Facing Oklahoma Dec. 21, the Razorbacks made their first appearance in Little Rock and Verizon Arena since 2009 and the program’s 10th overall trip to Little Rock, where the Hogs have tallied a 6-4 (.600) all-time record. The Oklahoma game also marked the 23rd overall game played in the state of Arkansas for the Razorbacks, owning an all-time record of 16-7 (.700). The 2015 SEC Women’s Basketball Championship will be held in Verizon Arena March 4-8, 2015.
700 PROGRAM WINS
Arkansas defeated Tulsa 64-53 on Dec. 14, giving the Razorbacks their 700th program win. Arkansas joins nine other SEC schools (Tennessee, Georgia, LSU, Auburn, Vanderbilt, Ole Miss, Kentucky, South Carolina, Texas A&M) that have 700 or more program wins.
As the 2014-15 campaign continues, Arkansas is in the midst of its 39th season of women’s basketball, owning an overall program record of 702-440 (.615). In those 39 years, Arkansas has advanced to postseason play a total of 21 times, including 10 trips to the NCAA Tournament.
“FINE WITH NINE”
It is no secret Arkansas will have one of the smaller roster sizes across the country. In fact, with only nine players the Razorbacks have the smallest roster in the SEC. However, head coach Jimmy Dykes has embraced each and every player on the roster and has continued his daily preaching of “Be Arkansas,” saying he is “fine with nine.”
“I’m fine with nine. That’s where we are,” Dykes said while addressing the media Nov. 7. “With only nine players, the first 23 practices, we didn’t back off one second because we have to be in top physical condition. If we only have nine going into the season, those nine have to be ready to play a lot of minutes … That term ‘Be Arkansas’ has helped me in recruiting, but it’s also helped me define who we are as a basketball team. Being Arkansas is being a great teammate, being tough, being coachable, working your tail off every day, understanding what it takes to be a legit program at this level. I only want players who want to ‘Be Arkansas’ and I have nine of them right now who want to ‘Be Arkansas.’”
BERNA WALKS IN COMMENCEMENT
Senior Calli Berna has truly exemplified what it means to be a student-athlete at the University of Arkansas and participated in commencement exercises on Dec. 20 inside Barnhill Arena. Graduating with a bachelor of arts in broadcast journalism, Berna will move on to graduate school at UA where she will pursue sports management. The Fayetteville, Ark., native has earned academic distinction from the SEC three times (SEC First-Year Academic Honor Roll 2011-12, SEC Academic Honor Roll in 2012-13 and 2013-14) and from the university six times (Arkansas Athletic Director’s List Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Spring 2014 and Arkansas Honor Roll Spring 2013). Berna joins Joey Bailey as the second graduate on the team as Bailey graduated with a degree in journalism and is pursuing her MBA.
JACKSON NAMED TO PRESEASON ALL-SEC COACHES FIRST TEAM
Sophomore Jessica Jackson was named to a Preseason All-SEC First Team selection by the coaches as released by the conference Nov. 5. As a freshman last season, Jackson led the team and ranked seventh in the conference in scoring, averaging 16.2 per game.
DYKES SIGNS FIVE IN FIRST RECRUITING CLASS
In his first full recruiting class, first-year head coach Jimmy Dykes added five players to his 2015 class during the early signing period in November. Two ESPN Top 100 nationally ranked players highlight the class and three of the five players are from the state of Arkansas, continuing Dykes’ promise to “Be Arkansas” and keep top in-state talent at home. Jordan Danberry (G, 5-7) is a five-star recruit ranked No. 47 in the 2015 class by ESPN out of Conway, Ark. She was named the 2014 Arkansas Gatorade Player of the Year after averaging 15.7 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 6.5 assists as a junior. North Little Rock’s Malica Monk (G, 5-5) is a four-star prospect ranked No. 64 in the 2015 class by ESPN. Monk was the first player to commit to Dykes and Coach says she is one of the fastest players baseline-to-baseline with a basketball in her hand in the entire 2015 class nationwide. Bailey Zimmerman (G/F, 6-1) is a three-time all-state tournament team selection out of Hattiville (Arkansas) High School and listed as a three-star prospect. Keiryn Swenson (G/F, 6-1) was a member of the 2014 6A All-State team out of Maize (Kansas) High School and is listed as a three-star prospect. Swenson had Division I offers in basketball, volleyball, and track and she will throw the javelin for Arkansas’ track and field team in the spring. Briunna Freeman (G, 5-9) has scored over 1,500 points in her career at Pelham (Georgia) High School and is a two-time AA All-State first team selection. Dykes notes her incredible athleticism, adding in that Freeman can dunk a tennis ball.
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