Jan. 16, 2009
AUBURN - Off to a 2-0 start in Southeastern Conference play for the first time since the 1995-96 season, the No. 6 Auburn women's basketball team (17-0) will put its perfect record to the test Sunday as it travels to Arkansas (11-6, 0-2 SEC).
Tipoff is slated for 2 p.m. at the Bud Walton Arena. A live video Webcast and live stats are available at ArkansasRazorbacks.com. Tiger fans can listen to the game live on WMXA 96.7 FM with play-by-play from Andy Burcham and color commentary from Arnika Edwards. Audio Webcasts will also be available at www.AuburnTigers.com.
Auburn is coming off an 81-65 win over No. 18 Florida last weekend in Auburn. The victory was the second over a ranked team this season and kept the Tigers undefeated, a distinction only Auburn, North Carolina (16-0) and Connecticut (16-0) can make.
Auburn and Arkansas both had a week to prepare for the game, with neither team playing a mid-week game. With the extra practice time, Auburn head coach Nell Fortner said she used it to work on her team's defense.
"We want to work on our defense all the way around and learn to hold people to less than 65 points," said Fortner. "Our focus is defense this week. I feel like we are scoring the ball pretty well, but we need to do a better job of mixing up our defenses and doing a few more things within that."
The Auburn defense will have to be ready as the Tigers take on a Razorback team still looking for its first conference win. Undefeated Auburn, coming in with the top-10 ranking, will definitely have a target on its back, but Fortner said the pressure of being hunted by other teams has not been a factor.
"There really isn't added pressure, I feel like we are playing well and we just keep going out and playing hard," said Fortner. "We just do all the little things like finish a play out, box out, finish things out on each end of the floor. I don't feel any pressure and neither do they, we are just going out and playing and having fun."
The game against Auburn will be Arkansas' 11th home game of the season with the Razorbacks posting an 8-2 record in the Bud Walton Arena so far this season. The only losses have been a one-point decision to Missouri and a 20-point loss to LSU in the SEC opener.
Leading the team so far this season is freshman guard Ceira Ricketts, who is averaging 13.1 points per game and 5.9 rebounds per game. Three other Razorbacks are averaging double figures with Ayana Brereton (10.2), Lyndsay Harris (10.2) and Whitney Jones (10.1) following Ricketts. Jones is also the team's leading rebounder at 7.5 per game.
Arkansas enjoys shooting the three as the team has a 30.4 three-point percentage on 118-of-388 shooting. Arkansas' 388 attempts are more than double the number of attempts Auburn has put up this season as the Tigers have hit 64-of-145. Harris takes the most 3-pointers, averaging 1.7 makes and 6.2 attempts per game. Brereton and Shanita Arnold also average at least one 3-pointer per game.
As a team, Arkansas is shooting 39.4 percent from the field on 425-of-1,079 shooting. The Razorbacks hit 64.9 percent of their free-throw attempts and average winning by 8.8 points per game while being out-rebounded their opponents by 0.4 per game.
Leading Auburn so far this season is senior DeWanna Bonner, the SEC Preseason Player of the Year. She is averaging a SEC-best 20.0 points per game while pulling down 8.5 rebounds per game. She ranks 15th nationally in scoring and is one of seven players in the country ranked in the top-20 in scoring and the top-100 in rebounding.
Behind her is sophomore Alli Smalley, who will have her high school jersey retired Friday night at Arab (Ala.) High School. She is averaging 12.9 points per game and 2.3 three-pointers per game. Senior Sherell Hobbs, who moved into the top-20 all-time at Auburn in career scoring against Florida, is on Smalley's heels with 12.8 points per game and 4.8 rebounds per game.
Running the Auburn offense is senior Whitney Boddie with her 9.8 points and SEC-best 7.7 assists per game. Her assist output also ranks second in the nation.
The game will be the 25th meeting all-time between Auburn and Arkansas with the Tigers holding the 15-9 series advantage. The Razorbacks lead when playing in Fayetteville, Ark., holding a narrow 6-5 lead. Auburn has won the last three meetings, all coming during the 2007-08 season.
Auburn is in its 38th season of women's basketball and sports an all-time record of 752-325... AU has made 17 NCAA Tournament appearances, two WNIT appearances and three Final Fours in the program's history... Head Coach Nell Fortner is in her fifth season at Auburn with a 105-64 career record and an 88-53 record on the Plains... The Tigers are coming off a 20-12 season in 2007-08 with their firs NCAA Tournament appearance since 2004.
This will be the 25th meeting between Auburn and Arkansas with Auburn holding a 15-9 series advantage. Auburn has won five of 11 meetings in Fayetteville and has won seven of the last 10 meetings. The Tigers have won three in a row against the Razorbacks, tying their longest win streak.
LAST TIME VS. ARKANSAS
The Auburn women's basketball team advanced to the second round of the SEC Tournament after a 74-51 victory over Arkansas March 7, 2008. The Tigers, who shot 62 percent in the first half, were led by DeWanna Bonner's 14th double-double and Jordan Greenleaf's career best 17 points.
Three Tigers scored in double figures led by Bonner with 26 points. Bonner also added a team-best 14 rebounds. Greenleaf posted a career high 17 points followed by Alli Smalley with 12 of her own. Brittney Vaughn led Arkansas with 16 points while Sarah Pfeifer added 13 points and a team-best seven rebounds.
The Tigers shot 55 percent for the game, while Arkansas was limited to 34 percent shooting. Auburn shot 38.7 percent from beyond the arc with the Lady'Backs netting just 1-of-14 for 7 percent. Auburn dominated the boards, outrebounding Arkansas 40 to 20.
Nell Fortner VS. TOM COLLEN
This will be the fourth meeting between Nell Fortner and Tom Collen after Auburn and Arkansas met three times last season. Fortner is 3-0 against Collen, sweeping the two regular-season meetings and the SEC Tournament game. Fortner is in her fifth season at Auburn and sixth overall as a collegiate head coach, holding a 105-64 career record. Collen is in his second season at Florida, 11th overall as a collegiate head coach, and owns a 235-89 career record.
LAST TIME OUT FOR ARKANSAS
In a game of runs, the University of Arkansas came up just short as the Kentucky Wildcats managed to hold off the Razorbacks, 72-63, at Memorial Coliseum in Southeastern Conference women's basketball action on Jan. 11.
Freshman Lyndsay Harris led four Razorbacks in double digits with 15 points. Along with Harris, the Razorbacks got double-digit scoring from Charity Ford with 14, Ceira Ricketts with 13 and Whitney Jones with 10.
The Razorback defense held Kentucky without a field goal for the final six and a half minutes of the game, but free throws allowed the Wildcats to keep their lead over the final minutes. On the day, UK hit 26-of-36 at the free throw line while the Razorbacks were 14-of-15.
LAST TIME OUT FOR AUBURN
The ninth-ranked Auburn women's basketball team continued its unbeaten streak with an 81-65 win over the No. 18 Florida Gators in front of an energized crowd Jan. 11 at Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum. The Tigers are 2-0 in SEC play for the first time since the 1995-96 season.
Senior DeWanna Bonner put up her fifth double-double of the season and 36th of her career, leading all Tigers with 29 points and 11 rebounds. Senior Whitney Boddie registered her fourth double-double of the season with 14 points and 11 assists.
Senior Sherell Hobbs added 23 points of her own, shooting 10-of-12 from the field and a perfect three-of-three from beyond the arc. Hobbs led the team with 15 points at halftime on 7-of-7 shooting from the floor.
The crowd of 6,090 was the seventh-largest in Auburn women's basketball history and the largest since 6,614 saw Auburn host Tennessee on Jan. 27, 2002.
Auburn finished 56 percent from the floor and an even 50 percent from three-point range. Florida shot 35 percent from the field and was 10-of-26 from beyond the arc for 39 percent.
The Gators were led by senior Marshae Dotson with 13-points and eight rebounds while leading scorer Sha Brooks was held to just 11 total points.
NEXT UP FOR THE TIGERS
Auburn returns home for two of its biggest games of the season. The Tigers open with an 8 p.m., Thursday game against in-state rival Alabama before taking on defending national champion Tennessee at 2 p.m., Sunday. Both games will be at the Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum.
Relying on the state of Alabama for its strength, Auburn is the only team in the AP top-25 whose entire starting lineup comes from its home state. The Tigers normally start Whitney Boddie (Florence, Ala.), DeWanna Bonner (Fairfield, Ala.), Sherell Hobbs (Huntsville, Ala.), Trevesha Jackson (Auburn, Ala.) and Alli Smalley (Arab, Ala.).
HANGING IN THE RAFTERS
Auburn sophomore Alli Smalley will get her high school jersey retired at a ceremony at Arab (Ala.) High School on Friday, Jan. 16. Smalley, who wore No. 5 in high school, finished her career as the school's all-time leading scorer and is the first basktball player, male or female, to have their jersey retired. The ceremoney will take place between the Arab vs. Ft. Payne girls' and boy's games.
COME ON IN
In Auburn's 81-65 win over No. 18 Florida, 6,090 fans came out to see the game - the seventh-largest crowd ever to see a women's basketball game at the Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum. It was the biggest since 6,614 saw Auburn take on Tennessee on Jan. 27, 2002. It was also the largest crowd to see a basketball game, men's or women's, to that point in the 2008-09 season.
17-0 AND COUNTING
Auburn has started its season with a perfect 17-0 record, marking the fourth time in the team's history, and first time under Nell Fortner, for the Tigers to start the season 17-0. AU last did it during the 1988-89 season, rattling off a perfect 28-win regular season. Auburn did not lose that season until facing Tennessee in the SEC Tournament.
QUICK START IN THE SEC
The Tigers are off to a 2-0 start in SEC play for the first time since the 1995-96 season. It is just the 10th time ever for Auburn to start the season 2-0 in the SEC. Other seasons it was done were: 1982-83, 1984-85, 1985-86, 1986-87, 1987-88, 1988-89, 1989-90, 1992-93 and 1995-96.
A win at Arkansas would put the team in more exclusive company as only four Auburn teams have ever moved to 3-0 in the league.
PICKING UP SOME CHARITY
While she struggled from the field in Auburn's 79-56 win over Stephen F. Austin, hitting only 4-of-12 shot attempts, senior Sherell Hobbs made good when she stepped up to the free-throw line, setting two Auburn records in the process.
Hitting all 11 of her attempts in the game, Hobbs tied Con Sparrow (1998) and Lori Nero (2000) for the Auburn record in free-throw percentage. All three went a perfect 11-of-11, Sparrow hitting the mark on Jan. 17, 1998 vs. Georgia while Nero did it on March 17, 2000 vs. Southwest Missouri State. Hobbs' mark also set a new Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum record, breaking the mark of 9-of-9 set by Renae Halbrooks on Dec. 2, 1981 vs. Troy State.
SWEET HOME. . . MIAMI
With the completion of the Miami Holiday Classic, Auburn has played as many games in city of Miami as it has on its home court this season. After playing in the FIU Thanksgiving Classic, the Tigers added two games from the Miami Holiday Tournament for a total of four.
AU had played only four home games at that point in the season, coming against Temple, Ohio State, North Carolina A&T and Sam Houston State.
ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS NO. 100
Auburn head coach Nell Fortner got a nice gift before the team broke for the Holidays. AU's 74-46 win at Coppin State on Dec. 21 was the 100th of her six-season career as a collegiate head coach. Five of Fortner's six seasons have come at Auburn with 17 of the wins coming from her one-year stint at Purdue.
She was be recognized for reaching the mark prior to Auburn's Jan. 11 game against Florida.
THE PLAINS 100
With 17 wins so far this season, head coach Nell Fortner is within striking distance of reaching another 100 plateau - her 100th win as Auburn's head coach. She currently has an 88-53 record on the Plains.
With 12 regular-season games remaining on the schedule, Fortner could reach the mark at home against Arkansas with an undefeated regular season.
AGAINST THE RANKED
Auburn holds a 2-0 record against teams ranked in the top-25 this season after its 87-80 overtime win over No. 17 Ohio State and 81-65 defeat of No. 18 Florida. Auburn is now 86-144 all-time against ranked teams and 49-45 when playing at home. The game against Tennessee will be Auburn's third against a ranked team this season.
The Auburn women's basketball team is logging some miles in the early part of the season as the Dec. 5 game against Sam Houston State was only the fourth home game among the first nine games of the season. Out of 15 non-conference games on the schedule, only five were played at the Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum.
Three Tigers are currently ranked in the top-25 in the nation in a statistical category. Senior point guard Whitney Boddie is at the top of the list as she is ranked second in the nation in assists per game with 7.7. She also has one of the best assist-to-turnover ratios in the country, ranking fifth at 2.6. SEC Preseason Player of the Year DeWanna Bonner is also in the rankings, coming in at 15th in the nation in scoring with 19.4 points per game. Sophomore guard Alli Smalley is one of the top 3-point shooters in the country, ranking seventh with a .476 three-point shooting percentage.
As a team, Auburn is ranked in the top 25 in the nation in nine categories. The Tigers are fifth in scoring (80.9), third in field goal percentage (48.1), 10th in scoring margin (+21.3), 21st in turnover margin (+5.2), 21st in steals per game (11.5), 20th in personal fouls per game (14.2) ninth in blocked shots per game (6.0), 22nd in assists per game (16.3) and 14th in assist-to-turnover ration (1.05).
GETTING THEIR SECOND WIND
One of the areas Auburn head coach Nell Fortner stressed in the off-season was conditioning and being able to out-last teams down the stretch. It has paid off as Auburn has dominated teams in the second half, averaging 11.2 points per game more in the second half.
On five occasions, the Tigers have turned a narrow or non-existant halftime lead into a blowout. Against Temple, AU was up by three at the break, but eneded with a 19-point victory. A halftime tie at UAB resulted in a 29-point Tiger win and a three-point advantage over North Carolina A&T at the half resulted in a 21-point victory. Auburn took a one-point halftime deficit at Liberty and turned it into an 11-point win. Most recently, the Tigers took a two-point halftime deficit at Miami and turned it into a 15-point win. In all, Auburn has scored 699 second-half points, compared to 509 from its opponents.
IN THE RANKINGS
The Auburn women's basketball team is in its ninth week of the season ranked in both the AP Top-25 poll and the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Top-25 poll. The Tigers are currently ranked sixth in the AP poll and eighth in the coaches poll. AU has been ranked sixth in the AP poll a total of seven weeks since 1980 with the last coming on Dec. 6, 1999. The ranking is the highest for Auburn since being ranked fifth on Jan. 5, 2000.
SETTING THE MARK
With Auburn's 119 points in the 119-54 win against Sam Houston State on Dec. 5, the Tigers set a new Auburn record for points in a game. It broke a 22-year-old record of 116 points, set on Dec. 2, 1986 (before anyone currently on the Auburn roster was born) with a 116-56 victory over Alabama State.
Auburn's 62 first-half points against Sam Houston State also came one point shy of the school record for first-half points. The record total of 63 points was set on Jan. 17, 1987 against Florida Southern.
Senior point guard Whitney Boddie picked up the first triple-double of her career during the Dec. 5, 119-54 win over Sam Houston State. She posted 13 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds in the game.
She becomes just the second Auburn player ever, on either the men's or women's teams, to earn a triple double. The only other player to ever reach the feat was Marita Payne on Feb. 3, 2005 vs. Arkansas with 15 points, 12 rebounds and 13 blocks.
CHASING THE RECORD
Auburn senior DeWanna Bonner is within reach of Auburn's all-time scoring record and could hit the mark during the regular season. Currently holding 1,786 career points, Bonner is chasing down Becky Jackson (1980-84) and her 2,068 career points. Needing 282 points to tie Jackson, Bonner would need to average 23.5 points per game in the remaining 12 games on the schedule.
Making postseason play would make the feat easier as the average drops almost an entire point per game for each SEC or NCAA Tournament game the Tigers play.
AUBURN VS. THE SEC
Auburn is 164-137 all-time in Southeastern Conference Games. Head coach Nell Fortner holds a 26-33 record in the conference.
ON THIS DATE. . .
When playing on Jan. 18, Auburn has a 6-3 all-time record. The last time AU played on Jan. 18 was in 2007 with a 74-69 win at Florida. Head coach Nell Fortner is 1-0 when coaching on Jan. 18.
Auburn is 174-89 all-time in the month of January, including an 11-18 mark under Nell Fortner (records begin in 1978-79 season, not all dates provided prior to or during that season).
OFFENSE WINS GAMES
Auburn is 61-1 when scoring 70 or more points in the Nell Fortner era. The only time Auburn has lost when scoring at least 70 points was on Jan. 20, 2005 vs. No. 7 Tennessee, 71-81. When scoring less than 70 points, Auburn is 23-52 during the Fortner era.
TALLYING THE POINTS
With Auburn's 119 points against Sam Houston State on Dec. 5, it marked the fifth time this season for the Tigers to break the 90-point barrier - a first for the Nell Fortner era and the first time for AU since the 1999-2000 season.
It marks just the sixth season since 1971 for Auburn to put up at least five 90-point games. The most for Auburn in a single season is 14 games, coming during the 1986-87 season.
Three Tigers are currently leading the SEC in a statistical category this season. Senior DeWanna Bonner leads the conference in scoring with 20.0 points per game, edging out Florida's Sha Brooks and her 14.9 points. Fellow senior Whitney Boddie leads the SEC in assists with 7.7 per game, leading Ole Miss' Shantell Black (5.4) by two assists per game.
Alli Smalley holds the top spot in the SEC in 3-point percentage, knocking down 47.6 percent of her attempts.
LAST OF THE UNBEATEN
Auburn is the last time in the SEC to hold an undefeated record after Mississippi State lost to Maryland on Dec. 30.
The Tigers are also one of only three teams in NCAA Division I women's basketball that are still undefeated. Current undefeated teams are: Auburn (17-0), North Carolina (16-0) and Connecticut (16-0).
Auburn's fast-paced offensive does not just result in more points, but overflows onto the defensive end as the Tigers have averaged 11.5 steals per game in their first 17 games, forcing 20.8 opponent turnovers per outing. AU has had double-digit steals in 11 of its 17 games.
Three current Tigers are also ranked among the most prolific theifs all-time at Auburn. hobbs_sherell00.html" >Sherell Hobbs ranks sixth with 210 career steals while DeWanna Bonner is ninth with 186. Whitney Boddie is chasing down the list as well with 161 steals, needing nine more to make the list.
Auburn's 17-0 start has been a team effort with every active player averaging more than 10 minutes played per game. Seniors Whitney Boddie and DeWanna Bonner are the only players averaging more than 30 minutes per game, barely breaking the barrier at 31.1 and 30.4 minutes, respectively.
It marks the sixth time ever for two 1,000-point scorers to be in the same class. The others are Debra Larkin & Brenda Hill (Class of 1985), Mae Ola Bolton & Sharon Stewart (Class of 1988), Vickie Orr & Ruthie Bolton (Class of 1989), Monique Morehouse & Samantha Williams (Class of 1996) and Conswella Sparrow & Tiffany Krantz (Class of 2000).
AN EARLY FAVORITE
According to RealTimeRPI.com, the Auburn women's basketball team currently ranks 13th in the country in the Ratings Percentage Index that factors in strength of schedule and other factors into a computer ranking.
As a conference, the SEC is ranked fourth on RealTimeRPI.com with the Big 12, ACC and Big East ahead of it.
Once again this season, the Tigers roster boasts a pair of sisters in sophomore Reneisha Hobbs and senior Sherell Hobbs of Huntsville, Ala. Prior to last season, the last time an Auburn team featured sisters was 1988-89 when Mae Ola and Ruthie Bolton played together.
In Auburn's 91-62 win at UAB, Sherell and Reneisha not only played together in the game, but it marked the first time in their collegiate career that they both started in the game.
Fans this season will notice a large lineup for the Tigers - one that has an average height of 72.00 inches (or approximately 6-0). With 11 players on the roster, six are 6-0 and above.
SWEET HOME ALABAMA
The 2008-09 roster includes six members who call the state of Alabama home. Whitney Boddie (Florence), DeWanna Bonner (Fairfield), Reneisha Hobbs (Huntsville), Sherell Hobbs (Huntsville), Trevehsa Jackson (Auburn) and Alli Smalley (Arab) all hail from Alabama.