comscore script

Rematch in Baton Rouge for women’s hoops

BY ANDRES FOCIL
Rematch in Baton Rouge for women’s hoops

FROM ONE EXTREME TO ANOTHER: Florida is one of the more prolific offenses in the SEC, and hung an opponent season high 96 on the Razorbacks. Arkansas heads on the road to face LSU, a team that has become notorious for defensive power.REMATCH OF SEC OPENER: LSU and Arkansas started league play with a defensive showdown on Jan. 8.YOUR CEIRA RICKETTS NOTE DU JOUR: With her 17 points at Vanderbilt and 14 versus Florida, Ceira Ricketts has averaged more points against SEC opponents — 14 ppg — than non-conference opponents — 13.8 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.THE TECHNICAL TERM IS WHIPLASH: Arkansas might feel that way in Baton Rouge coming off one of the highest scoring teams — Florida — to one of the most defensive teams — LSU. The Tigers are allowing a conference leading 52.1 ppg.DOWN WITH THE D: Along with the No. 1 spot for scoring defense, LSU is third in the SEC for field goal percentage defense and second in three-point percentage.DIDN’T EXACTLY WORK AS PLANNED: Arkansas went with its big lineup, starting Ashley McCray against Florida. McCray came into the game on a roll with a 71.4% field goal mark and averaging double digits the past five games. She replaced Lyndsay Harris. Instead of another McCray outburst, it was Harris that got on a roll.A CAREER IN A GAME: Prior to Jan. 1, 2009, Lyndsay Harris was hot from behind the arc. The freshman had a rough start in SEC play, hitting only 7-of-37 in the first six games. With Florida, Harris almost equalled her SEC total with five made on nine attempts, scoring all her field goals from three-pointers. Since Miss State, Harris has been hot once again from the arc, shooting 9-of-19 for .474 (compared to her first four SEC games — 3-of-27).SEASON SCORING HIGH FOR LEAGUE: Arkansas got a season high for a SEC game with 78 points against Florida. Unfortunately, the Razorbacks gave up a season high for all opponents with 96 points to the Gators.SERIES: LSU leads with 24-9 and rides a 13-game winning streak over the Razorbacks. In Baton Rouge, LSU has a 12-3 lead.HOME SEC WOES: Arkansas and LSU share losing home marks against league opponents — the Lady Tigers are 1-2 with Alabama as the only win while Arkansas is 0-4 (three of four ranked).TV TIME: The Razorbacks make the final of three straight road appearances on Fox Sports South. Arkansas was on Fox with Miss State, then the second half of the Thursday night double-header at Vanderbilt on Jan. 29 at 8 p.m. central. The string closes at LSU on Feb. 6, also the night-cap at 8 p.m.RUBBER GAME FOR FOX: The Razorbacks are 1-1 so far on FSN.MUST SEE TV?: Both of Arkansas’ appearances on Fox Sports Net in the SEC package have been last minute thrillers. The Razorbacks held off a comeback by Miss State in a three-pointer, 65-62, then rallied themselves to force overtime at Vanderbilt.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: 13.8 ppg (#1 Freshman, 6th overall) REBOUNDS: 6.4 rpg (#2 Freshman, t13th) FG %: .459 (#1 Freshman-4th) ASSISTS: 3.6 apg (#1 Freshman-9th) STEALS: 2.8 spg (#1 Freshman-1st) ASST-TO RATIO: 1.4 (#1 Freshman-7th) DEF. BOARDS: 4.3 (#1 Freshman-9th)LSU HAS SOME PRETTY GOOD ONES, TOO: The Lady Tigers reset their roster this season after seeing seven starters depart, and one freshman in particular, LaSondra Barrett, put on a clinic in Fayetteville with 27 points to lead LSU to a 20-point runaway. MIGHT WATCH BARRETT: LaSondra Barrett’s 12-of-18 from the field makes her one of the most dangerous opponents for the Razorbacks — tying for most field goals scored against Arkansas this season and one point shy of Amber Simmons of Pacific’s 28 points. One important difference: Barrett did her damage in just 30 minutes played and with eight rebounds.LAST CHANCE FOR JONES: Senior Whitney Jones has a familial tie to the Lady Tigers as her older sister, Wendlyn, played for LSU on one of the Sue Gunter era Final Four teams. Whitney’s Razorbacks are winless against the Lady Tigers, and baring fortunate seeding in North Little Rock, Thursday is her last meeting with LSU.BAD MEMORIES: Not to be morose, but the Razorbacks have mixed feelings when they visit Baton Rouge — not just because of the series record. Arkansas has twice left the PMAC with players on crutches. Overall against the Lady Tigers had the misfortune of two starting centers (Ruby Vaden, Lauren Ervin) blowing ACLs.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 that started just after New Year’s Day. 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). Florida had a 12-0 run in the zone to push to its largest lead. The Razorbacks took one at Vanderbilt (10-1) that also gave the Commodores their largest lead of 15; however, the Razorbacks returned the favor with a 19-4 close to overtime. Proof in the pudding? Arkansas one win in January had no Dead Zone — a 9-4 UA advantage in the time slot at Miss State. 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. Miss State had two free throws but no field goals in the last 4:02.PASTRY PROBLEMS: The Razorbacks are 1-8 when they force less than 15 turnovers from opponents, and a similar 1-8 when they commit more turnovers than the opponent.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.HOWDY PARTNERS: LSU is the “rival” or travel partner for Arkansas. 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.FORD GAME-TO-GAME UNTIL MSU: Charity Ford missed the Auburn game, and was a game-time decision until Miss State. She came off the bench for a season-high at Kentucky. The junior guard had been out with a leg injury that she suffered during the holidays. She missed the Stetson game, back in the boot on her left leg. A new series of scans revealed an acute stress fracture, and she will be on the sidelines for a while. Originally, she missed the game with Missouri, and did not dress after her leg injury against Dartmouth. As dramatic as it appeared when Ford collided with a Dartmouth player and landed awkwardly on her left leg, the junior guard got a clean bill of health at the doctors. She returned to the court for Western Illinois, turning in 24 minutes. However, pain returned and MRIs were ordered, revealing the fracture.ONCE, TWICE, THREE TIMES FRESHMAN OF THE WEEK: Ceira Ricketts was named the SEC Freshman of the Week for the second consecutive week. The freshman from Louisville, Ky., averaged 18.5 ppg and 6.5 rpg for the past week, including a near double versus then No. 10 Tennessee with 22 points and nine rebounds, then 13 points as Arkansas’ top-scoring starter at Miss State for the Razorbacks first conference win of the year. The freshman also led all players in the game with six assists and three steals vs. UT. At Miss State, Ricketts had 13 points and four steals as the top scoring starter for the Razorbacks. Ricketts led the team in assists in Arkansas first win against a SEC opponent. The win at State broke a five-game losing streak dating back to the Jan. 3. For the week, Ricketts exceeded her season averages and SEC-game only averages with 18.5 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 4.5 and 3.5 spg. She becomes the first Razorback to win three SEC weekly honors in the same season.RICKETTS MAKES HISTORY: Freshman Ceira Ricketts became the first women’s basketball player in Arkansas history to record a triple double in a regular season game. We’ll make the caveat of known triple as the early year box scores are sketchy or nonexistent. Nevertheless, since modern NCAA era, only a handful of Razorbacks have come close. Most notable — Sally Moore was within an assist in 1990 against Oklahoma (18p/13r/9a) and Brittney Vaughn was within a rebound in 2006 against St. Louis (13p/9r/10a). Research continues to confirm, but the search of the likely suspects and old records Sunday evening turned up no evidence to not give the mark to the freshman.RICKETTS TIES ASSIST RECORDS: Ceira Ricketts’ 12 assists tied the Arkansas freshman class record for most assists in a game. Amy Wright held the mark with 12 against LSU in 1999. Ricketts also shares the UA mark for most assists in a regular season SEC game with Wright and Rochelle Vaughn, who had her 12 against Georgia in 2004. For the game, Ricketts had as many assists as #6 Auburn had as a team.AND, RICKETTS GETS FRESHMAN OF THE WEEK: In recognition of the above notations, freshman Ceira Ricketts was selected the SEC Freshman of the Week. It is her second FOTW honor (Nov. 26), and makes her the first repeat freshman honoree in Razorback history. Additionally, she’s only the third Arkansas player to pick up two “of the week” awards from the SEC for women’s basketball. Two seasons ago, Lauren Ervin had a pair of player of the weeks and Shameka Christon had one player of the week and a co-player back in 2004.RICKETTS BACK TO NO. 1: Freshman Ceira Ricketts leads the league with 2.8 steals per game. During non-conference play, Ricketts was the leader or No. 2 most of the early weeks. Her 48 total steals is also the most in the league. Nationally, Ricketts is 28th, up two spots from 30th last week.FIRST TIME — RICKETTS NAMED SEC FRESHMAN OF THE WEEK: After a week that saw her move from sub to starter to team’s leading scorer, Ceira Ricketts was named the SEC Freshman of the Week for Nov. 24. Ricketts had double digits in all three games for the week, notching then career highs in points (18, SMU), rebounds (9, Northwestern), assists (4, High Point) and steals (5, High Point). Ricketts was Arkansas leading scorer on average for the three-game run, and emerged as the team’s overall leading scorer with 13 ppg for the season. She averages 4 steals per game to start the season. Ricketts is the third Razorback named freshman of the week. The last time was Donica Cosby from Nov. 2006. Her teammate, Whitney Jones, was the first-ever SEC freshman of the week back in December 2005.FRESHMEN STARTERS: Lyndsay Harris got the nod to start against La-Monroe, making her the first freshman to start on opening day since Tanisha Smith in 2005 as the Razorbacks tipped off the year at Clemson.MILLIONTH FAN FOR TENNESSEE: In 33 years of women’s basketball at Arkansas, to date, 999,286 fans have attended Razorback games in Fayetteville. The season-high 3,916 for Tennessee brought the millionth fan to Razorback women’s basketball at home. Arkansas entered the season with 984,206 total recorded fans (attendance records prior to 1985 are incomplete), and registered 18,996 so far in 2008-09 for 14 home games.2008-09 SIGNEES:DARSHAE BURNSIDE: One of the West Coast’s best rebounders, Darshae Burnside of San Bernadino, Calif., was the first women’s basketball player of the early period to sign a National Letter of Intent with the University of Arkansas. The 6-3 center-forward from Cajon High School in San Bernadino is ranked top 100 by most of the prep prospect services. She was singled out by ESPN.com as one of the top players at the Nike Regional Skills Academy in May. Burnside is the second California prep star to sign with Arkansas under Collen. Last fall, Arkansas signed Jamesha Townsend from the San Diego area. Arkansas’ recent star junior college transfer, Lauren Ervin, was from the Los Angeles area, and last spring was a draft pick of the Connecticut Sun. Last season, Burnside averaged 15.5 ppg and 16.1 rpg for the Cajon. The Cowgirls to the California Interscholastic Federation Southern Section 2A title with a 30-4 overall record. In the state title game, Burnside had 12 points, 14 rebounds and three blocked shots as CHS defeated Ayala, 51-47. Only two teams held her to single digits, with a season high of 33 points against Ontario (Calif.). As a sophomore, Burnside was first-team all-state as one of the top rebounders in the country and the No. 4 shot-blocker in the state of California.SARAH WATKINS: Forward Sarah Watkins is one of the nation’s top 50 players. The 6-3 Watkins gives Arkansas a pair of top-flight post players in the 2009 recruiting class. California post player Darshae Burnside opened the early signing period for the Razorbacks last week Watkins is rated top 50 or top 100 by almost every notable girl’s basketball service. ESPN listed the versatile center as the No. 42 recruit in the country (and the No. 7 forward in the country), touting her ability to score from two feet to 24 feet. Already a 1,000-point career scorer by the close of her junior year, Watkins led Houston High in Germantown, Tenn., to the 8-AAA regional championship in basketball. Watkins averaged 23 ppg, 10 rpg and 5 blocks last season. She broke the HHS single-game scoring record last year with 43 points against rival Germantown, pulling down 18 rebounds with eight blocks. As a junior, Watkins was named MVP of the regional tournament, along with all-metro Memphis and several other tournament teams. The 6-3 post was also selected for both Nike Skills Academy and adidas Top Ten. Her AAU team, Memphis Elite, is a fixture on the national tournament scene. Along with her basketball talent, Watkins is a member of Houston High’s two-time district and regional golf champion squads. As a senior, she was a scoring member of HHS team that was third at the state Class AAA championship; seventh her junior year.



Sports Category : Basketball (W)