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Eleven tournament teams highlight hoops schedule

08/17/2012
Jeri Thorpe, Athletic Media Relations
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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The University of Arkansas women’s basketball team faces 11 teams who participated in the postseason a year ago in this year’s 2012-13 schedule released today.

Head coach Tom Collen and the Razorbacks face the always tough and recently expanded Southeastern Conference maintaining a 16-game league schedule this season.  Arkansas adds in trips to Tulsa, Okla.; Honolulu, Hawai’i; and Furman, S.C., this year as well.

“I’m really excited about our schedule this season,” Collen said.  “We will make short trips to Tulsa twice to play Oral Roberts and the University of Tulsa. These renewed regional rivalries give our fans an opportunity to travel a short distance and watch us play.  Playing Missouri twice every year gives us a chance to begin a great regional rivalry and of course our home game early in the season with Texas A&M will draw a lot of attention.”

Arkansas, who returns senior starter Sarah Watkins, sophomore point guard Calli Berna and juniors Kiera Peak and Dominique Robinson, opens the regular season hosting Elementary Day Nov. 9 against Jackson State at 11 a.m.

The Razorbacks then hit the road for five consecutive away games to start the year.  The road stretch begins at Tulsa Nov. 15, and then at Oral Roberts Nov. 19, before the team departs for Honolulu, Hawai’i, where they face the host Rainbow Wahine, Oklahoma and Oregon.   ORU was a WNIT participant last year while the Sooners reached the NCAA second round.

“The players are obviously excited about our trip to Hawai’i,” Collen said. “We will have three great games there with the host school, Pac 10 opponent Oregon and national powerhouse Oklahoma.”

Arkansas follows up hosting seven of the next eight heading into SEC play.  The Razorbacks welcome Texas Southern Nov. 29, Pepperdine Dec. 2 and Kansas Dec. 6.  The Jayhawks reached the NCAA Regionals a year ago.

“Our home game with Kansas will be a great matchup with a team that made it to the Sweet Sixteen last season,” Collen noted.

The Razorbacks travel to Furman Dec. 16, followed by home games with Mississippi Valley State Dec 19 and Northwestern State Dec. 21 before breaking for a couple of days for the holiday.

A home game with Coppin State Dec. 28, serves as the final tune-up before Arkansas embarks on the grueling 16-game SEC slate that includes a new travel partner in Missouri this season.

Arkansas opens the Southeastern Conference schedule at Auburn Jan. 3, followed by the much-anticipated renewed rivalry with Texas A&M in Bud Walton Arena Jan. 6.  The Aggies and Razorbacks got a jump-start on the series when they met in College Station in the second round of the NCAA Tournament last season.

The Razorbacks then host LSU in the only meeting between the Tigers and Razorbacks in 2013.  Arkansas faced the Tigers three times last year with LSU reaching the NCAA Tournament second round under first year head coach Nikki Caldwell.

NCAA Tournament teams Vanderbilt in Nashville, Tenn., and Georgia at home lead the Razorbacks into the first meeting with new border rival Missouri in Columbia, Mo., Jan. 24.  It is the first meeting since 2008, a game the Tigers won by a point.

Arkansas next welcomes South Carolina Jan. 27.  The Gamecocks made their first NCAA Tournament appearance under head coach Dawn Staley reaching the Regionals last year.

The Razorbacks then have back-to-back road games for the only time in 2013 traveling to Ole Miss, Jan. 31, at Mississippi State Feb. 3.

Elite Eight participant Kentucky comes to Bud Walton Feb. 7, followed by a road contest at Alabama Feb. 10, as teams reach the mid-point of the grueling SEC schedule.  Fans will get their first look at Missouri on Arkansas’ home court Feb. 17, and the Razorbacks travel to NCAA Tournament participant Georgia Feb. 21.

The see-saw schedule continues with a home game against national powerhouse and Elite Eight participant Tennessee Feb. 24, a road trip to tournament team Florida Feb. 28 and a final home game with Ole Miss March 3.

“The always challenging SEC schedule is the best we have had in years in terms of balance and off days,” Collen said. “We have a tough five-game stretch to open the season and it is a similar start for us as it was last year.  We expect that in the SEC and we are looking forward to the early challenge.”

This year, the SEC Tournament returns to Duluth, Ga., and expands to five days to welcome two newcomers to the event.  The Razorbacks conclude the regular season with a final home game with SIU-Edwardsville, March 14, before awaiting a possible postseason bid.

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