Arkansas goes for 21st straight home opening win as they host Memphis

ABOUT THE LADY RAZORBACKS: The 30th edition of the Arkansas women’s basketball team takes the floor this season with head coach Susie Gardner excited about her third Lady’Back team. Arkansas returns at least several starters from last year’s team that went 17-14 overall, reaching the second round of the Women’s NIT.
ABOUT THE LADY TIGERS: It’s a rebuilding season for Memphis which lost four starters off last seasons team. The lone returning starter is Tamika Butler, averaging 6.9 ppg last season. All totaled, 67.5% of the Lady Tiger scoring is gone from last season. Memphis opened on the road at La-Monroe on Friday, losing 80-60. The two-game road stand to start the season is the first since the 2001-02 season when Memphis dropped its first two games at the Reno Tournament.
WELCOME HOME: Former Lady Razorback star Blair Savage brings her Lady Tigers to Fayetteville for the first time. Savage becomes the first former player as a head coach to face the Lady’Backs in Fayetteville. Savage became the first former player to coach against Arkansas last year when the Lady’Backs defeated Memphis at Rohn Fieldhouse. Savage has been on the opposite bench in Fayetteville, however, during her time as an assistant for the Lady Tigers. So far, only Savage and Sytia Messer (first as an assistant at Memphis, currently an assistant at Georgia Tech) are the only former Lady’Backs to coach against Arkansas.
A C-USA OPENING WEEKEND: Arkansas won at one of Conference USA’s new members, SMU, and returns to Walton Arena to for its home opener against one of C-USA’s oldest members, Memphis.
GOING FOR 21 STRAIGHT: For the home opener, Arkansas is 29-1 all-time and brings a 20-year streak into Monday’s game with Memphis, winning every home opener in school history except one — the 1982-83 game against defending national champion and #2 ranked Louisiana Tech. Arkansas dropped that one 75-52 to also stop the school’s home win streak of 21 consecutive.
LAST GAME FOR MEMPHIS: The Lady Tigers opened the season on the road at La-Monroe on Friday evening, and despite a career high off the bench from Marie Reed Memphis stumbled, 80-60. The Lady Tigers came out of the blocks slow and never recovered against the Lady Indians. Tamika Butler was the only starter in double-digits with 11.
TIGER TO’s: Memphis had 29 turnovers at La-Monroe. The -12 turnover margin was made worse by an almost -3:1 assist-to-turnover margin (29 TOs to 10 assists).
CRY FOUL: Both teams committed over 20 fouls in their opening games, but the effect was much more profound for Memphis as the Lady Tigers fouled out two players and finished with three more with four fouls in 28 total. Arkansas managed to spread its 21 fouls more evenly, only having two players with four at the end.
10 TO DRESS FOR MEMPHIS: Adrienne Bush rejoins the roster with the Memphis game.
NOT EVEN ON THE EDGE: Arkansas did not put its new scramble trap defense on SMU, eschewing the Edge after working through the first half with the Mustangs. With only nine players dressed, Susie Gardner decided to slog it out old school in the halfcourt. The result? A whopping 31 turnovers for a +13 advantage, 12 steals and 34 points off the 31 SMU miscues.
MEMPHIS ON THE EDGE?: Adrienne Bush’s return gives Susie Gardner not only a 10-player rotation, but one of her most tenacious defensive players.
MOODY BLUES: Arkansas controlled the game through its impressive defensive power, holding SMU scoreless for two stretches of over four minutes in the first half plus a decisive 12-0 run to finish the game in the final 2:25.
WE MUST PROTECT THIS BALL: Arkansas was flawless for the final 8:48 of the game at SMU. The Mustangs? Not so much with eight turnovers — one per minute — in the final eight, leading to the decisive 12-0 run by Arkansas in the closing 2:25.
CAREER STARTS: Kristin Peoples not only got her 500th career point, the junior finally broke through the 18-point barrier. Five times, Peoples scored 18 in her first two years. Her 21 gives her a new high game, and obviously, her first 20-point game. She also tied her career high with seven assists.
FRESHMAN STARTS: Whitney Jones’ 22 points is the most for a freshman starting in the opening game since 15 points by Karyn Karlin back on Nov. 23, 1995, against Texas-Arlington. Karlin went on to a pretty good year — SEC Freshman of the Year in 1996. Jones becomes the only freshman to start her season opener and score 20 or more. In fact, many future Lady’Back superstars didn’t have very auspicious opening games — Christy Smith and Shameka Christon each started their career openers but had 0 points. Her 22 also tops the most by any freshman in the SEC era as Wendi Willits came off the bench to score 21 at Providence in 1997. Jones’ 22 is the best of the SEC and SWC eras — box scores are spotty prior to the fourth season (1980-81).
DID YOU KNOW?: That while looking up the best freshman first games, it was discovered that Whitney Jones’ 22 points was the fourth most points by a Lady’Back in the season opener and Kristin Peoples’ 21 points ties for fifth. Kimberly Wilson’s 32 versus Pitt at the UNLV Tournament in 1995 tops the list, followed by 28 by Shameka Christon at Wichita State in 2003. Amanda Holley had 25 against Kansas State in 1982.
THATS MS ANDJELKOVIC TO YOU: Kristina Andjelkovic played some of her best games at the close of last season, but wiped the slate almost clean in her senior season opener at SMU. The 6-2 Serb crushed her career rebound high with a team-leading 11 boards. She equalled her junior best with eight points, but none bigger than her super-clutch 18-footer with 1:03 left to play to give Arkansas a three-point lead, 66-63.
MORE KRISTINA: It’s an esoteric record, but 11 rebounds by Kristina Andjelkovic ties the most by a Lady’Back in the season opener. And, the 11 is more common than you’d guess as five other players (Lanell Dawson, 1985; Stephanie Bloomer, 1994; Karyn Karlin, 1996; Kamara Stancle, 1997; Shameka Christon, 2003) have pulled off the feat.
BE ONE WITH THE BALL: Whitney Jones said she was focused on stopping her player, SMU leading scorer Janielle Dobbs, from scoring her 17 point average, then just letting the came to come to her. At the 3:29 mark in the second half, Jones became one with the game as a series of plays set the stage for Arkansas’ win. Jones drove inside to draw Joselyn Greenard’s second foul and sink a pair of free throws to cut SMU’s lead to one, 60-59. On the ensuing inbound, Jones’ steal from Dobbs gave Arkansas back the ball. Her offensive rebound kept the possession alive, then her driving layup gave UA the lead, 61-60. After a Julie Colli’s three, Jones responded with a three-point play of her own, a layup and Greenard’s fourth foul, that put Arkansas up for good, 64-63.
DID WE READ THAT RIGHT?: The much shorter Lady Razorbacks outrebounded SMU, 43-37, in what became a halfcourt game which should have favored the Mustangs. Arkansas pounded the o-glass for a 21-8 advantage.
A SEASON OF ADDITION: Although the loss of Sarah Pfeifer certainly deals a blow to Arkansas, the beginning of the 2005-06 season is the opposite of a war of attrition. The bench goes to 10 with the return of Adrienne Bush next game with Memphis. Kristin Moore makes her season debut in game three to bring the roster to 11. After the close of the semester, midseason transfer Leslie Howard hits the floor. Should Danielle Allen return during the holidays, Arkansas reaches 13 on the bench.
VAUGHN MOVES UP SCORING LIST: Midway through SEC play Rochelle Vaughn became the 42nd Lady’Back to score 500 points in her career, and with 648 ends the season ranked 31st all-time. Her 17 points to open the year against SMU moved her closer to breaking into the top 30. At 665 points, she only needs 12 more to pass Shaka Massey (676) which will break Vaughn into the career top 30.
VAUGHN GOES TO ASSIST TOP 8, KNOCKING ON STEAL DOOR: With her five assists against UNLV, Rochelle Vaughn passed Juliet Jackson for eighth place all-time at Arkansas. Vaughn heads into her senior year with 321 assists, and Cheryl Orcholski next on the list at 323. On the steal list, Vaughn has 168 for her career, and is 19 away from catching 10th place Shea Henderson with 187.
PEOPLES ONLY NINE AWAY ON ASSISTS: After her team-leading seven assists, Kristin Peoples he junior is only nine assists from jumping into the career top 20 at Arkansas.
VERSUS MEMPHIS: The Lady Tigers lead the series, 8-6, and have a dominating spread in Memphis, 2-5. In fact, Susie Gardner became only the second UA coach to win at Elma Rohne Field House last year. The tables turn in Fayetteville, where Arkansas owns the series at 5-1 overall. The last time Memphis won in Fayetteville was back in 1979-80. The Lady Tigers do have the distinction of ruining one of the appearances at ALLTEL Arena, however, winning in North Little Rock in 1999 as a part of a three-game win streak.
LAST TIME WITH MEMPHIS: Arkansas needed a second-half outburst from former Lady’Back Ruby Vaden to build a commanding second half lead. Holding the halftime lead at Memphis, Arkansas got several second-half surprises on the way to a 59-53 win. Ruby Vaden came off the bench to score 14 points almost at will with 7-of-9 from the field as Arkansas built a 21-point lead. Then Victoria Crawford started her run, bringing the Tigers back to within two points. A driving layup from Sarah Pfeifer stopped the run. Rochelle Vaughn had her first traditional, second overall, double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Vaden led all with 14. Sheree Thompson rounded out the double-digit scorers with 11.
LAST TIME IN FAYETTEVILLE: Arkansas 79, Memphis 75. Four Lady’Backs were in double digits led by Shameka Christon with 19, but it was the Kristins that held the key. Kristin Peoples had six unanswered points to open the game, the freshman guard had 17 off 6-of-10 from the field. Kristin Moore came on in the second half with 16 points, all in the final period. Arkansas allowed Memphis to rally in both halves. April Seggebruch’s three in the final moments closed the door on the last Tiger rally. Ruby Vaden also scored 15 to round out the double-digit scorers. LESS TURNOVERS, MORE EFFICIENCY: Granted, it wasn’t the 40-turnover blur of the opening exhibition game, but Arkansas forced 27 miscues by Missouri Southern and converted them into 34 points. On the flip side, Arkansas had only 14 turnovers against 19 assists and allowed only five opponent points off turnovers.
EVERYONE SCORES, EVERYONE FOULS: With only nine players dressed against Cameron and a new scrambling defense, everyone got into the scorebook last Sunday. In fact, every player on the team had at least two fouls, with one player exiting early (Dominique Washington). In fact, only Melissa Hobbs had a mere two fouls. On the plus side, every player scored in the game as each player saw at least 10 minutes of playing time. Everyone had over five points (Whitney Jones, Hobbs at five).
RECORDS FALL IN FIRST EXHIBITION: Arkansas broke the school records for opponent turnovers against Cameron, forcing 40 miscues from the visiting Lady Aggies. As a function of the 40 turnovers, Arkansas also set a new exhibition record with 20 steals.
SISTERS VAUGHN TIE, BREAK MARK: Five steals in an exhibition game was the record at Arkansas, held by three players. Rochelle Vaughn tied that with five against Cameron, but her younger sister Brittney broke the record with six.
TREYS WAY AWAY: The impact of the experimental distance of 20-6 was unquestionable against Cameron. The two teams combined for only two made three-pointers off 19 attempts.
BUT SPOT ON WITH MSSU: Maybe it took a game to get use to, but Arkansas shot 40% from experimental three-point range (6-of-15) against Missouri Southern.
SIGNING DAY NEWS: The Lady’Backs picked up four high school signees on the opening day of the early National Letter of Intent period. In-state, Arkansas signed Kendra Roberts, a 5-8 guard from Fort Smith, Ark., Northside High School. Susie Gardner picked up players from three neighboring states: Charity Ford, a 5-8 combo guard from Arlington, Texas, Juan Seguin; TaNisha Smith, a 6-2 forward from Kansas City, Mo., Lincoln Prep; and 6-3 forward Ashley Wilson of Byhalia, Miss.
KENDRA ROBERTS: The 5-8 guard averaged 16 ppg, 6 rpg, 9 apg and 2 spg as a junior for Fort Smith Southside High. Roberts was an all-conference and all-region pick for the Lady Rebels. Playing her summer AAU basketball with the Arkansas Kamikazi team, The former Southside High guard will participate for Northside this season for Lady Bears head coach Rickey Smith. As a freshman, she averaged 18 ppg and 10 rpg and was the district MVP at Trinity Junior High. Her sophomore season at Southside, she averaged 12 ppg, 6 rpg, 4 spg and 2 apg and was named to the state’s top 10 sophomore list by Southern Starzz.
TANISHA SMITH: The 6-2 guard-forward averaged 16 ppg, 10 rpg, 2 apg and 3 spg for Coach Jeff Atkins at Lincoln Prep Academy as a junior. Lincoln finished the season in the Missouri state title game with a 26-4 record. She averaged 14 ppg and 8 rpg as a sophomore for the Tigers. Her career highs are 39 points and 17 rebounds. A three-time first-team all-district pick, Smith was also a first-team Missouri Basketball Coaches Association Class AAAA all-state selection in 2005. She led her AAU team, Kansas City Keys, to a 62-3 mark this past summer for coach Harrell Johnson. The Keys reached the AAU Final Four in Orlando this year. Smith averaging 18 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 3.5 apg and 2.0 spg in AAU play, including a 31-point game against Cincinnati Nets, to earn AAU All-America honors.
CHARITY FORD: Ranked the No. 13 prospect in the state of Texas by TexasHoops, Ford averaged for Arlington’s Juan Seguin High. The co-MVP of District 7-AAAA, Ford averaged 18 ppg, 4.5 apg and 2.3 spg for the Lady Cougars last season she racked up 596 points as half of one of the strongest backcourts in the state of Texas.
ASHLEY WILSON: One of the top prospects from the state of Mississippi, Wilson did not participate in high school basketball last season while she was living in Ohio. The 6-3 swing post player currently attends Byhalia High School in Byhalia, Miss. The Indians’ leading scorer as a sophomore, Wilson is currently starting at point.
PFEIFER OUT FOR THE SEASON: One day after being voted by the league’s coaches and media to the preseason all-SEC second team, returning leading scorer Sarah Pfeifer tore her ACL in her left knee during the opening minutes of the Red-White Game. Pfeifer had surgery on the knee in early November 2005 to begin the rehab process. The 2005 SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year, Pfeifer has already used a redshirt season in 2003 after a traumatic shoulder injury at the Loyola Marymount tournament. Regrettably, this marks the fourth major surgery (2003, left shoulder arthroscopic; 2004, left shoulder full cut; 2005, right shoulder full cut) in her Arkansas career.
DEJA VU ALL OVER AGAIN: Last year, Danielle Allen was the break-out player in the Red-White. This year, it was another post player Whitney Jones. Allen lit up the 2004 Red-White for 23 points and 12 rebounds which proved to be the sign of things to come for the sophomore.
LADY’BACKS VOTED PRESEASON 10TH AT SEC MEDIA DAYS: The Arkansas Lady Razorbacks were voted in a tie for 10th place with Mississippi State by the media assembled for this year’s basketball media days in Birmingham. The media seconded the endorsement of the coaches by voting Sarah Pfeifer to the preseason all-SEC second team. Prior to media day, the league coaches picked Pfeifer preseason second team. Defending champion LSU and Tennessee split most of the first-place votes, with UT getting the nod on points in the poll with 251, followed by LSU in second at 248 but one more first-place vote (11 to 10 for UT). Georgia was third with one first-place vote and 224. Vanderbilt rounded out the top four. Ole Miss, Auburn, Florida, Alabama and Kentucky were next before Arkansas and Miss State. South Carolina was voted 12th.
MOORE, BUSH SUSPENDED FOR PRESEASON: Senior returning starters Kristin Moore and Adrienne Bush are suspended for the three preseason games and opening games of the season. Moore will not play in the season opener at SMU or the home opener against Memphis due to violations of University policies. Bush will not play the opener at SMU due to violations of team and Women’s Athletics Department rules. Both continue to practice.
TICKETS ARE ON SALE: Season tickets for the 2005-06 season are on sale. Prices are $90 for reserved, $80 for student/senior citizen reserved and are available by calling 877-LADYBACK or 57-LBACK, or for new season ticket sales available on-line at LADYBACKS.COM. All season ticket renewals must be processed by the Lady’Back Ticket Office, but the season ticket form for renewals can be downloaded from the website.
LUNCH WITH SUSIE: Arkansas head coach Susie Gardner’s next luncheon is Monday, Nov. 28. The luncheons begin at 11:30 at the Clarion Hotel. Cost is $8.50 for the buffet. For more questions, contact Lady’Back marketing at 575-7312.
LIVE LADY’BACKS: Arkansas will provide all games from Bud Walton Arena not available on cable television via LADYBACKS.COM video streaming, plus the Arkansas road game from Oregon via a shared feed in the XOS system. This means that 19 of Arkansas’ 27 regular season games can be viewed live by cable or internet.
FIGHTING RAZORBACKS: Arkansas’ two great comebacks last season from double-digit deficits. Suspected to be the greatest rally in a conference game at Arkansas, the 17-point comeback versus Mississippi State ranks in a tie for the fourth largest deficit overcome in Division I history. The Lady’Backs were down 42-25 with 4:38 left in the first half, and turned the game around to an 11-point lead with less than 30 seconds left before the final 80-73 score. Arkansas’ other rally, from 15 points down against Western Kentucky on Nov. 28, 2004, (28-13, 6:57 in the first half) to win 83-79, is just one point from tying the fifth largest — 16 points.
CALL HER THE QUEEN OF COMEBACK: Susie Gardner may have two entries on the greatest comeback list. While at Austin Peay during the 1999-2000 season, her Lady Govs trailed Tennessee State by 20 points, 61-41 with 7:32 left to play. Gardner pushed APSU to a 32-4 finish to win, 73-65. This would give her the second largest rally in NCAA history — two shy of the record of 22 — but perhaps the quickest comeback of all time. In the 22-point rally by Oregon over Arizona, the peak deficit was with 16:20 left in the game. The only other recorded 20-point rallies took longer. The first was by Florida in 1992. The Gators trailed Alabama with 11 minutes left and needed overtime to win. The other was when Southern Miss came back from a first-half 20-point deficit to Mississippi College in 1999. APSU is reporting in the 2000 game for addition to next year’s record book.
STEALS LEAD SEC: For only the fifth time in Arkansas’ 13 seasons in the SEC, the Lady’Backs led the league in a statistical category. The school-record 388 steals marks the first time since 2000 for the Lady’Backs to lead the SEC.