FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The Arkansas men’s basketball will make a trip to Iowa State during its non-conference schedule in 2014-15, as the matchups for the SEC/Big 12 Challenge were unveiled on Wednesday. The Razorbacks will head to Ames, Iowa on Thursday, Dec. 4, with the contest being televised on one of the ESPN platforms (ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPNU).
The game will mark Arkansas’ first appearance in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge while it will be the fifth meeting between the two programs and the first since 1999. A game time will be released at a later date.
Arkansas returns eight players, including six of its top seven scorers, from its 2013-14 squad that went 22-10 overall and advanced to the NIT second round, good for the program’s first 20-win season and postseason berth since 2008. The Razorbacks finished with a 5-1 record against teams that advanced to the NCAA and NIT Final Four, and put together their second straight winning season in SEC action (10-8), a program first since 1997-98 and 1998-99.
In their third season under head coach Mike Anderson and his #Fastest40 style of play, the Razorbacks led the SEC in scoring (80.1), assists (15.3), assist/turnover ratio (1.3), turnover margin (+5.5) and steals (8.4). Looking further, Arkansas was one of just three programs and the only BCS team to rank in the top 30 nationally in scoring (16th), assists (28th), steals (12th) and blocks (18th).
Led by head coach Fred Hoiberg, Iowa State finished the 2013-14 campaign with a 28-8 overall record, winning the Big 12 Tournament and advancing to the Sweet Sixteen. Making their third straight NCAA Tournament appearance, the Cyclones were the No. 3 seed in San Antonio, defeating North Carolina Central in the second round and North Carolina in the third round. Iowa State ended the year ranked No. 11 in the USA Today Coaches Poll.
The trip to Ames will be the second in program history for the Razorbacks and their first since 1970. Iowa State owns a 3-1 all-time series lead, while the last two meetings between the programs have come in Hawaii. Arkansas’ lone win over Iowa State came in 1984 at the Rainbow Classic behind 41 points and eight rebounds from junior Joe Klein. The 41 points scored by Klein are the seventh-most by a Razorback. Arkansas first trip to Iowa State came on Dec. 14, 1970, the year before Hilton Coliseum opened.
Matchup To Watch
The Dec. 4th meeting will feature two of the best big men in the country as Arkansas sophomore Bobby Portis and Iowa State junior Georges Niang will occupy the pant at the Hilton Coliseum. Portis is coming off a rookie campaign in which he earned All-SEC second team honors after finishing second on the team in scoring (12.3) and tops in rebounding (6.8). Portis, a three-time SEC Freshman of the Week, was the only freshman in the nation in 2013-14 with 50 assists and 50 blocks. Niang suffered a broken foot in the NCAA Tournament, missing the Cyclones’ third round win over North Carolina and their Sweet Sixteen game against eventual champion UConn. An All-Big 12 third team honoree, Niang averaged 16.7 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.6 assists as a sophomore.
The trip to Iowa State is one of three true road games on Arkansas’ non-conference schedule. The Razorbacks will return games to ACC foe Clemson and American Athletic Conference member SMU after both teams visited Bud Walton Arena in 2013-14. Both Clemson and SMU played in the NIT. The full non-conference schedule will be available at a later date.
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