FAYETTEVILLE, AR – University of Arkansas head coach Jimmy Dykes and the Razorbacks women’s basketball team face Oklahoma as one of two games in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge this fall, the league office announced today.
The event was created to showcase both of the league’s conference tournaments and spans at least two years beginning this year. Two teams from each league will participate in the initial two years to assist in the promotion of the 2015 SEC Women’s Basketball Championship to be played in North Little Rock, Ark., and the 2016 Big 12 Women’s Basketball Championship scheduled in Oklahoma City, Okla.
“We couldn’t be more excited to be a part of the first two years of what we hope will be a long-standing matchup between two great women’s basketball conferences,” Dykes said. “Both the SEC and the Big 12 have always supported their member institutions well and the women’s teams have flourished in these leagues. It will be great to have some conference matchups that, in this case, are also regional matchups for fans to enjoy.
Oklahoma, Texas and Texas A&M are some of the best teams in the women’s game with outstanding history and tradition,” Dykes continued. “I think this will be the beginning of some exciting games for fans, players and a television audience.”
Arkansas faces Oklahoma in Verizon Arena in North Little Rock, Ark., Dec. 21 and Texas meets Texas A&M in the other game in the doubleheader. The opponents will rotate with Arkansas facing Texas Dec. 20, 2015, in Cheaspeake Energy arena in Oklahoma City, Okla.
The Razorbacks return a solid corps of players including four of the five starters from last year’s 19-win team. Point guard Calli Berna returns leading a veteran squad that includes fellow senior Jhasmin Bowen, redshirt junior Joey Bailey and junior Melissa Wolff.
The sophomore class will have to provide major contributions as well for the Razorbacks. Those five players, including McKenzie Adams, Kelsey Brooks, Jessica Jackson, Bria Pitts and Khadijah West, will have to play even bigger roles this season as Arkansas looks to return to the NCAA Tournament.
Oklahoma has made three Final Four appearances, 13 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances and won 11 conference titles. They are coming off a first round exit in the NCAA Tournament last year after posting 18 wins and nine victories in league play.
The Sooners’ 2013-14 roster had three seniors who were three of the top four scorers for OU last season. Despite the loss in scoring, the Sooner’s won’t miss a beat after the addition of another strong recruiting class that includes 6’-4” center McKenna Treece, the No. 16 post player according to ESPN HoopGurlz 100.
Dykes and the Razorbacks hope to announce the remainder of the non-conference schedule late this summer.