FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Four nationally televised home games, including a contest against Big Ten power Illinois, a road date at Missouri, a six-game homestand leading to the Southeastern Conference opener and a trip to the Virgin Islands for the Paradise Jam highlight the 2004-05 Arkansas basketball schedule released on Friday.
The Razorbacks had one nationally televised game last year, but with nine returnees and a recruiting class ranked in the top 20, Arkansas has four this year. The first is from North Little Rock where ESPN is broadcasting the Illinois game from Alltel Arena on Dec. 4. The second is another ESPN game on Jan. 11 when Alabama visits Bud Walton Arena. The third is Jan. 29 when CBS airs the Kentucky game from Walton Arena. ESPN returns to Fayetteville on March 1 to broadcast the Mississippi State game.
“That is a positive sign,” head coach Stan Heath says. “We are thrilled to be selected for several national and regional broadcasts. Our schedule has good balance to it. We enter the year with a hunger and determination to improve, and to win games.”
UA tips off the season Nov. 18-23 with the Paradise Jam at St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. The field is still being finalized, but includes Saint Louis, Troy State, Austin Peay and Winthrop. Saint Louis was 19-13 last year and reached the second round of the NIT, Austin Peay was 22-10 and also reached the second round of the NIT, Troy State was 23-7 and played in the NIT and Winthrop was 15-12.
“The Paradise Jam field is strong and provides us several challenges from recognized and underrated teams,” Heath says.
Following the tournament, Arkansas plays host to Gardner-Webb on Nov. 27 and Tulsa on Nov. 30. The Dec. 4 game against Illinois at North Little Rock is followed by the Dec. 7 contest at Missouri. UA and Missouri have not played since the 1997-98 season.
“We have a good slate of home games including a date with highly ranked Illinois in North Little Rock,” Heath says. “We also travel to Missouri in the first of a two-year series. This schedule will test us and prepare us for conference. With one senior and nine returnees, we have a good mix of youth and experience. Consistent improvement in our play along with strong chemistry will be the direction we want to move during the non-conference schedule.”
Six consecutive non-conference home games follow against Tennessee State, Prairie View A&M, Lipscomb University, Hartford University, Jacksonville State and Louisiana-Monroe before the SEC opener at home on Jan. 5 against Ole Miss. The Missouri, Tennessee State, Prairie View, Hartford, Jacksonville State and Louisiana-Monroe games are being televised by ARSN.
“The SEC is always tough,” Heath says. “It should be an entertaining year for our fans to watch.”
Arkansas plays at Florida on Jan. 8 and entertains Alabama in the ESPN game on Jan. 11 before traveling to Mississippi State (Jan. 15) and LSU (Jan. 19). Auburn visits Fayetteville on Jan. 22 and the Hogs play host to Kentucky and CBS on Jan. 29 before road games at South Carolina (Feb. 2) and Ole Miss (Feb. 5). Georgia (Feb. 9) and LSU (Feb. 12) visit Bud Walton Arena with the Hogs traveling to Alabama on Feb. 16 and Vanderbilt on Feb. 19. Arkansas closes with home dates against Tennessee (Feb. 26) and the ESPN game against Mississippi State (March 2), and the regular season finale at Auburn (March 5).