Hog fans are sick of the mantra “Wait till next year.”
That line has been an annual rite of passage in both football and men’s basketball for more than a decade, it seems. Sure, things seemed to be changing earlier in Year 1 of the Eric Musselman era, but even that has unraveled with the loss of Isaiah Joe to injury.
For once, though, rises a Hogs team that makes fans and coaches alike ready to see what it can do the rest of this season. These 2019-2020 Lady Razorbacks are special, y’all, and they’re heating up at the right time of year.
In their last three games, all wins, they hung 103 on No. 15 Kentucky at home, scored 108 points at Ole Miss and, tonight, handled a salty Tennessee team by the score of 83-75.
This is only the fifth time that the Hogs have beaten Tennessee since the Arkansas program joined the SEC in 1991. It also happens to be the second straight time that Arkansas has won. Yes, the Lady Vols are not the powerhouse they once were, but they still entered this game with a 7-5 SEC record.
This win in Fayetteville is yet more evidence that Mike Neighbors has the program headed toward its best regular season in the program’s SEC history.
With an SEC record of 9-4 (and 21-5 overall), Neighbors’ Hogs are just one SEC win away from matching the program record with three regular season games left to play. This is only the second time ever the Hogs have won nine or more SEC conference games.
These Lady Razorbacks have their own version of a Big Three in a great all-around player in Chelsea Dungee and two “Splash Sisters” in Alexis Tolefree and Amber Ramirez who have the ability to long-distance firebomb opponents into smoldering heaps.
Ramirez was especially devastating against Tennessee.
Because it’s always a good time to rag on Louisiana….
The junior guard rung up a season-high 29 points, going 11 of 20 from the field and five of nine from deep. Her game against the Vols was her fifth 20+ point game during the 2020 conference season, tied for the most on the squad. Tolefree, a 5’8″ senior guard from Conway, had another big outing for Arkansas, going for 22 points and seven rebounds, leading the team on the glass once again.
The Hogs had the Lady Vols down by as much as 16 early in the fourth, and it looked like they may coast to their third straight win. Tennessee responded with a 18-8 run over six minutes in the final frame to make it a six-point game with 3:59 to play. The teams would go back and forth from there, before Arkansas would ice this one away at the free throw line.
The Lady Vols cut it even closer with 15 seconds to play, as the Hogs held a narrow 79-75 lead. However, Ramirez and Tolefree, along with a key defensive stop, buried Tennessee late. That duo went a perfect four for four on free throws to keep the game out of reach.
Arkansas is currently tied with Texas A&M and Kentucky for No. 3 in the SEC, behind national No. 1 South Carolina and Mississippi State. If the Hogs can finish in the top four in conference standings, they will get a double-bye entering the SEC Tournament (where they shocked South Carolina last year).
This time around, Arkansas isn’t sneaking up on anybody in conference.
These Razorbacks are consistently getting opponents’ best shots, and they’re making Arkansas proud in how they are responding.
Fans can’t wait to see how they keep it up in the coming weeks.
This team has next-level camaraderie among its stars. Just watch what Tolefree does at the :18 marker below:
- Arkansas’ defense forced 23 turnovers.
- Ramirez tallied a team-high three steals to go along with her team-high 29 points.
- Tolefree recorded her fifth game this season with seven or more rebounds.
- Chelsea Dungee stuffed the stat sheet, going for 16 points, three assists, two steals, and two rebounds.
- A’Tyanna Gaulden once again led the Hogs in assists, dishing four of them.
Watch the highlights here!