Feb. 11, 2012
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AUBURN - The Auburn women's basketball team (11-14, 3-9 SEC) will return home Sunday for a 1:30 p.m., meeting with Arkansas (18-5, 7-4 SEC). The game is Auburn's WBCA Pink Zone game for breast cancer awareness and will air live on ESPN2.
"The Pink Zone game is an important day in terms of bringing awareness to a disease that affects everyone today, and that is breast cancer," said Auburn head coach Nell Fortner. "I think we have all been touched by a family member or friend or co-worker that has had to fight their battle with this. So, this `Think Pink' is just a total awareness to continue raising funds for research and total awareness of the importance of early detection.
"Being women's basketball, having one of our strong leaders in Kay Yow having passed away from breast cancer a couple years ago has been the forefront of our profession in battling it and bringing awareness to early detection and fundraising. It's an important cause, important day."
Auburn's Pink Zone Breast Cancer Awareness Day is presented by Alfa Insurance. All fans are encouraged to wear pink to the game and Alfa Insurance will donate $1 for each of the first 5,000 fans in attendance to benefit the Montgomery-based Joy to Life Foundation. Alfa will also give away pink t-shirts to the first 500 fans through the door.
"ALFA Insurance is proud to sponsor Auburn's Pink Zone game which will benefit the Joy to Life Foundation," said Carol Golsan, ALFA's Senior Vice President, Marketing Services. "I know from first-hand experience what this foundation can do and we are proud to be a major contributor."
The Joy to Life Foundation is a non-profit organization providing free mammograms for medically underserved women under 50 years of age in 28 counties in South Central Alabama. The organization was founded in 2001 by Joy and Richard Blondheim of Montgomery, Ala. Joy Blondheim, a breast cancer survivor, along with her husband, Richard, are dedicating their time and efforts to women who are fighting to win the battle against breast cancer.
"The Joy to Life Foundation is absolutely thrilled to be a part of the `Pink Zone' game this year," said Joy Blondheim. "We want to thank ALFA Insurance and Auburn University for offering support of our mission - funding mammograms for the medically underserved women in South Central Alabama. We are truly grateful."
Since playing Auburn on Jan. 15, Arkansas has been on a roll, winning a school-record seven consecutive SEC games. The Razorbacks were winless in SEC play before downing the Tigers, 59-39. That victory was the first in the seven-game streak.
"Arkansas shot the ball well when we played at their place, and usually it starts with that," said Fortner. "When you start shooting the ball well, all of a sudden everything else kind of falls in to place. It just gives you great confidence. They started out shooting the ball well and it gave them great confidence. Then, they started turning into the team they always thought they were going to be, and they have carried that on."
Six of the seven wins have been by double digits while four have been by 20 or more points. The only close game in the run has been a 73-72 overtime win against Florida. Five of the seven games have been at home, giving the Razorbacks a 3-3 record on the road this season, 2-3 in SEC play.
C'eira Ricketts, the only player ever to notch a triple-double against Auburn, leads the team in scoring and assists with 11.0 points and 4.3 assists per game. Also averaging double figures is Sarah Watkins with 10.8 points and 4.7 rebounds per game. Ashley Daniels has been a force in the post for the Razorbacks, averaging 8.0 points and a team-high 6.3 boards per game.
Arkansas primarily uses an eight-player rotation with five of the eight players averaging more than 7.0 points per game.
"Arkansas is playing really well right now," said Fortner. "They are playing with great confidence and playing with a purpose, firing on all cylinders. Their seniors have really stepped up, and they're on a roll right now. We've got to be ready to really work hard to guard them, they will be tough."
Auburn has struggled since downing Ole Miss, 67-54, on Jan. 29. Similar to Arkansas when the Tigers and Hogs last played, Auburn enters the game on a three-game losing streak, falling to Vanderbilt, Tennessee and Florida.
One bright spot has been the play of junior Blanche Alverson, who is averaging 12.0 points per game over the last six games. She currently ranks second in the SEC, shooting 41.8 percent from 3-point range and is shooting 50.0 percent over that six-game stretch with 14 treys.
"Blanche is shooting the ball really well, a very confident shot and shooting it strong," said Fortner. "Our team is doing a better job of finding her and knowing that she needs to touch the ball."
Leading the team is sophomore Tyrese Tanner with 10.5 points per game, good enough to rank 24th in the SEC. Mostly coming off the bench, Tanner has led the Tigers in scoring in five of the last 11 games. Right behind her is the long-range duo of Alverson and Camille Glymph, who are averaging 9.4 and 9.3 points per game, respectively. The pair is averaging 3.7 treys per game, shooting at a 37.4 percent clip.
Also nearing double figures is Hasina Muhammad with 9.1 points per game, good enough for second in the SEC among freshmen. Senior Parrisha Simmons leads the team in rebounding with 5.4 boards per game, including four double-digit rebound games this season.
Holly Rowe and Abby Waner will call the game on the ESPN2 and WatchESPN.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. A live audio Webcast and GameTracker will also be available at AuburnTigers.com.