The Lady Razorbacks arrived for a late game at Reed Arena on a 3 game winning streak, having dispatched Auburn (0-11 in SEC play), Alabama (1-9), and #24 Georgia. The home win vs the Georgia Dogs was on Monday night, since our last WBB update. It was a game I watched only a little, since then #1 S. Carolina was at then #2 UConn starting around the time the Hogs and Dawgs went to halftime, and I was listening to Coach Blair's radio show during the first half. The Arkansas win involved building a 30-16 halftime lead, and then withstanding a Georgia comeback with some help from Georgia coach Andy Landers, who got two technical fouls and an ejection down 3 with 9 seconds to go (and the ball). Even with 3/4 late FTs on the Ts, Arkansas was outscored 32-24 in the second half, by a Georgia team that lost its best player a few weeks ago when Shacobia Barbee was lost for the year with an injury.
On the Ags side, Jordan Jones was on the sidelines but was not available due to a stomach bug. Tori Scott had to go to New Orleans to tend to an emergency of some kind involving her mother.
The Ags started Khaalia Hillsman, Achiri Ade, Courtney Williams, Courtney Walker, and Curtyce Knox in place of jones at the point. Arkansas countered with their usual starters. Unlike the game in Fayetteville, where I expected the Hawgs to play man D but they came out in a zone, Jimmy Dykes decided to go man-to-man on Thursday night.
Arkansas started the game shooting exceptionally well. At the first media timeout I looked up at the scoreboard and it showed them a 71% from the field. They had hit 5 of their first 7 shots, two from beyond the arc to take a 12-8 lead. Jhasmin Bowen used a couple of free throws to make it 14-8 before the Ags started clamping down and whittling away at the lead. The Razorbacks would make only 4 more field goals before the intermission. Rachel Mitchell subbed for Hillsman for 7 minutes in the first half and had 3 boards and 2 blocks as well as intimidating those who ventured into the paint. Chelsea Jennings has some good minutes in the first half as well. During the week, Coach Blair had talked about practicing Taylor Cooper at PG. Cooper gave Knox a 1 minute rest in the first half and was not seen on the floor again after she reinjured her shoulder.
The Ags shooting wasn't much better, but 11-28, combined with an edge from the FT line was good enough to take a 7 point lead into the intermission.
The Ags outrebounded Arkansas 26-23, and had 14 points in the paint vs 4.
Halftime score 30-23
Arkansas scored first, but then the Ags built the lead to 10. Arkansas started getting into the paint as Hillsman appeared to be getting fatigued at around 6 minutes onto the period. At 12:55, Coach Dykes called a timeout for Arkansas and when the teams went back out, Coach Blair had subbed Chelsea Jennings in for Hillsman. Ade moved to the post and Williams and Jennings played the 3 and the 4 while Walker and Knox stayed in the back court.
Arkansas cut the lead to 2 on a 3 pointer from the left side by Kelsey Brooks with 11:31 to go. Williams stretched the lead to 4. Jennings fouled Jessica Jackson going into the lane and Jackson made it 43-41 with a pair of FTs. The Hawgs had a chance to tie when Walker turned the ball over trying to make a move at the top of the key, but Knox stole the outlet pass and Walker got a hoop and a FT. At first it looked like Callie Berna was going to get the foul, as she tried to flop for a charge, but the second contact by Melissa Wolff was called instead. The Ags had chances to stretch the 5 point lead to a larger margin as neither team could capitalize on turnovers. After Curtyce, who was starting to look tired to me, missed a pair of FTs, Jackson cut the lead to 46-43. Another Jackson layup after Walker went 1 of 2 from the FT line got Arky within 2 again. Again neither team could capitalize for a couple of possessions. With 5:51 left, Walker rebounded a miss by Callie Berna and hit Jennings streaking downcourt. Jennings missed the layup, but 5-7 Curtyce Knox, of all people, got a tip-in from the right side, drawing a foul on Joey Bailey in the process. Tyce hit the FT to make it 49-45. Berna answered with a layup driving across the lane off a shot fake from the right side, but then Williams hit a short jumper off a nice screen in the left block by Jennings. After an Arky turnover, Ade made a strong move for a layup to give the Ags a 7 point lead at 54-47 with 4:28 remaining.
But the Hogs fought back. After Knox missed a pair of FTs after the 3:57 media timeout, the Lady Razorbacks went on a 6-0 run to make it 54-53 with 2:02. Once again, the Ags kept the lead. Walker's jumper made it 56-53. Jackson answered to make it 56-55 with 36 seconds left. Arkansas had to foul intentionally. Knox hit 1 of 2 FTs to give the Ags a 2 point lead with 28 seconds to go.
With the shot clock off, Arkansas got the rebound and went to set up. Knox used the foul to give earlier than she should have, far from the bucket and the Hogs reset with 21 seconds left. Arkansas ran a weave to set up Jackson, who was having a great second half. A switch put the 5-7 Knox guarding the 6-3 Jackson on the right side of the key, well within Jackson's range. But instead of just shooting over Knox, Jackson tried to pass the ball back to Kelsey Brooks at the top of the key. Jennings filled the passing lane and ran into the front court where she was fouled by Jackson with 2.8 seconds to go. Jennings, who had not taken a FT in SEC play before Thursday's game and had missed her first two chances calmly drained both despite Dykes burning his last two timeouts to try to ice her. Jennings put an exclamation point on her performance by intercepting the final desperation inbounds pass.
Final score: Ags 59, Bacon 55
Everyone around me in the stands was wondering the same thing: why did we go with the small lineup for so much of the second half
In the second half I thought the best way to guard them was to go small. Rachel and Khaalia played very well in the first half. It hurt us on the defensive boards some but at the same time Chelsea Jennings was doing a tremendous job on Jessica Jackson.
- Gary Blair
Khaalia did need a break by the time she came out, and Jennings did a great job. But with Arkansas' comeback largely based on getting in the paint, the rationale for not playing Mitchell and Terry at all in the second half escapes me. Coach stayed with the small lineup from 12:55 to the last few seconds. But I guess that's why I'm a biochemist, not a basketball coach.
- Walker and Williams 14 and 15 respectively. Neither of the Courtneys had a great % night: 6-18 and 6-15, but moth made some clutch buckets. Hillsman finished with 9 points and 7 boards in just 20 minutes of PT. Ade led the Ags in rebounding with 8. Achiri was 3-4 from the field and 1-3 from the FT line.
- Knox and Jennings both had career highs in minutes played. Jennings, Mitchell, and Ade each blocked 2 shots.
- After leading on the boards at half, the rebounding ended up even. As Blair said, going small hurt us on the defensive boards.
- Jackson led all scorers with 19 points. Bowen and Brooks each had 13 points.
- Elsewhere in the SEC, Kentucky took sole possession of 3rd place by beating Mississippi State in double OT. The Ags are currently alone in 6th, but 3-6 are separated by 1 game. The Ags still have a good shot at getting the #3 seed in the SEC tourney. 3rd place UK probably has the toughest remaining schedule: @Tenn, TAMU, @Miss, @Arky, and S. Carolina. Miss State is a half game up on the Ags and has the tiebreaker with us from head to head, but still has @S. Carolina. LSU is also half a game up on A&M. We end the regular season at their place.
- Monday Feb 16, 2015 6PM CST
- Reed Arena
- SEC Network; KZNE 1150 AM
The Tide got their second SEC win on Thursday, knocking off Mizzou on a late 3-pointer. The Tide had some preseason turmoil on the WBB side when they were jerks about a transfer situation, and they're a young team. Coach Kristy Curry is in her second year with the Tide, but is a familiar face to Ags, as she coached at Texas Tech before moving to the SEC. Bama has only 2 seniors on their roster. Both started vs Missouri. The lineup is likely to be
- #13 6-2 Jr F Nikki Hegstetter scores 5.6 ppg and grabs 5.7 boards/game. She leads the team in blocks
- #20 6-0 So F Ashley Williams leads the team in minutes (29.4/g), points (13 ppg), and rebounds (6.3 rpg).
- #25 6-1 Sr F Briana Hutchen
- #22 5-7 RS Fr G Karyla Middlebrook leads in assists
- #33 5-3 Sr G Sharin Rivers has only started 3 games, but plays 15.5 min/g overall.
#15 5-8 Fr G Meoshonti Knight comes off the bench but is 3rd in minutes played. The Tide are aveaging 60.4 ppg and giving up 61.2. Those are the overall numbers, where wins vs some weak teams are balanced by a 50 point loss to Duke. Bama's best performances are probably an upset win vs Nebraska (#30 in RPI) in December and beating Kansas (#75 RPI) at Kansas. This should be a win for the Ags.
The pregame will involve puppy adoptions, and there will be performing dogs at halftime.