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Arkansas to face Baylor SEC-Big 12 challenge WM’s BSKB

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas Women’s Basketball will host Baylor in this year’s edition of the SEC/Big 12 Challenge, the league office announced today. The Razorbacks will play in the Challenge for the seventh time, and currently sport a 3-3 all-time record after defeating Kansas State at home last season.

 

“Being the reigning and three-time National Champion pretty much sums it up,” Head Coach Mike Neighbors said.  “And then on top of it all, you have Hall of Fame Coach Kim Mulkey coming into Bud Walton. If that doesn’t get our fans excited, we need to check on them. We promised this group of kids they would play against the best if they would come to Arkansas, and playing against a national power like Baylor helps us deliver on that promise. This is a reflection of what they have done the last three years. We know it’s an incredible challenge that early in the season, but this game will prepare us for what promises to be the toughest SEC gauntlet there has been in the last decade. It’s also a reflection of the fan support over the last three years.  This game isn’t even an option if our fans had not been supporting us in the way they have the last three seasons.”

 

The matchup between Baylor and Arkansas is one of several high-profile contests in this season’s Challenge, as Baylor is coming off of a season in which it finished third in both the AP and Coaches Polls. The season before, Baylor won its third National Championship, all of which have come since the turn of the century. Arkansas, meanwhile, is coming off its best SEC season ever, and was poised to return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in five years before the COVID-19 pandemic cut the season short. The Hogs finished tied for third in the final SEC standings.

 

Arkansas holds a decisive edge in the all-time series, owning a 21-7 advantage, including a 10-2 record in Fayetteville. However, Baylor won the most recent matchup between the teams, as the Lady Bears eliminated the Hogs from the 2015 NCAA Tournament in Waco, 73-44.

 

The Lady Bears will be down Lauren Cox, as the senior First Team All-American has moved onto the ranks of the WNBA, Te’a Cooper, who was picked in the second round of the WNBA draft, and Juicy Landrum, who was also selected in the WNBA Draft, but the team will return plenty of firepower in 2020-21. Mulkey’s lineup features several prominent returners, including rising senior DiDi Richards, the reigning Naismith and Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, and rising junior NaLyssa Smith, who was a WBCA and AP All-American Honorable Mention, and a First-Team All-Big 12 performer in 2020. The Lady Bears will also add freshman Hannah Gusters, the No. 2 center in the nation, and freshman Sarah Andrews, the No. 2 point guard in the nation. 

 

Ten teams from the SEC participate while every team from the Big 12 takes part in the Challenge each season. The format features five home games on campus sites for each conference per year. The inaugural challenge was held in 2014 with the first 10-game slate in 2016. The SEC edged the Big 12, 6-4 that year, with the conferences splitting the challenge, 5-5, in 2017, 2018. The Big 12 took home the trophy last season.

 

Official game information and start times will be announced at a later date.

 

2020 SEC/Big 12 Women’s Basketball Challenge Matchups

 

South Carolina @ Iowa State

 

Kentucky @ Kansas State

 

Alabama @ Oklahoma State

 

Texas A&M @ Texas

 

Tennessee @ West Virginia

 

Baylor @ Arkansas

 

Kansas @ Ole Miss

 

Oklahoma @ Georgia

 

TCU @ Missouri

 

Texas Tech @ Vanderbilt

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