March 13, 2002
GAME: No. 11 Clemson (17-11) vs. No. 6 Arkansas (19-11).
REGIONAL: Mideast, First Round.
TIME: Friday, 7 p.m. EST.
SITE: Bramlage Coliseum, Manhattan, Kan.
A couple of teams from power conferences meet in what should be a fairly even first-round game when Clemson meets Arkansas.
Clemson, a perennial NCAA tournament participant, finished third in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Arkansas was seventh in the Southeastern Conference, but heads into postseason play with more momentum.
The Lady Razorbacks have won nine of their last 12 games and reached the semifinals of the SEC tournament before falling to eventual champion Vanderbilt. The No. 6 seed is their highest since getting a No. 5 in 1995.
“I think we were rewarded for what we did in the last month of the season,” Arkansas coach Gary Blair said. “I think the bracket is extremely fair.”
Clemson didn’t finish as well. The Lady Tigers only split their last six games, including a loss to North Carolina State in their opening game of the ACC tournament.
Still, the Lady Tigers have an edge over many teams in NCAA tournament experience. Clemson is in the tournament for the seventh straight year and for the 14th time in the last 15.
“Clemson could have been a higher seed, but they lost in the first round of their tournament,” Blair said. “Their seed is a little misleading. They are a veteran NCAA team that’s probably been in the tournament 13 (actually 14) of the last 15 years, and they always pull upsets this time of year.”
The Lady Tigers are led by the trio of Chrissy Floyd, Krystal Scott and Marci Glenney. Floyd averages a team-high 17.8 points, Scott adds 10.5 and Glenney chips in 10.0 per game.
Shameka Christon is the top player for Arkansas, averaging 15.9 points and 6.1 rebounds. She scored 40 in the SEC semifinal loss to Vanderbilt, nearly helping the Lady Razorbacks erase a 22-point deficit.
Christon and the Lady Razorbacks will be trying to deal the Lady Tigers another early loss. Clemson reached the regional final in 1991, but has since made it to the round of 16 just once, in 1999.
“Obviously it is going to be tough,” Clemson coach Jim Davis said. “Arkansas is a well-coached team and they have played so well and improved so much during the course of the season.”
The winner advances to face No. 3 Kansas State or No. 14 Kent State in the second round.
PROBABLE STARTERS: Clemson – F Glenney (10.0 ppg, 3.8 rpg), F Lakeia Stokes (6.0 ppg, 3.3 rpg), C Tia Andrew (1.0 ppg, 3.1 rpg), G Scott (10.5 ppg, 3.2 rpg), G Floyd (17.8 ppg, 3.7 rpg). Arkansas – F Christon (15.9 ppg, 6.1 rpg), F Kiesha Beard (3.4 ppg, 5.3 rpg), G India Lewis (14.2 ppg, 2.2 apg), G Dana Cherry (13.4 ppg, 4.8 rpg), G Amy Wright (6.3 ppg, 6.1 apg).
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Clemson – At-large bid, Atlantic Coast Conference. Arkansas – At-large bid, Southeastern Conference.
ALL-TIME TOURNAMENT RECORD: Clemson – 14-14, 14 years. Arkansas – 7-10, 7 years.
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