UNLV Game Notes

Arkansas hosts UNLV in a rematch of Las Vegas Bowl IX as both teams open the 2001 campaign at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock, Ark. The Rebels won the first meeting between the two squads 31-14 on Dec. 21, 2000 at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas, Nev.

THE RECORDS: This is the opener for each club. Arkansas was 6-6 last year, 3-5 and tied for fifth with Alabama in the SEC's Western Division. UNLV was 7-5 overall and third in the Mountain West Conference at 4-3.

THE RANKINGS: Arkansas and UNLV are each receiving votes in the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today preseason polls. In the ESPN/USA Today rankings, the Rebels earned 12 points and would rank 43rd while Arkansas has seven points to tie for 47th. In the AP poll, the Razorbacks have 22 points to rank No. 35 while Vegas has 12 points to tie for 37th.

COVERAGE: The game is being televised nationally by ESPN. MIKE TIRICO will provided the play-by-play while LEE CORSO and KIRK HERBSTREIT will fill the color commentator duties. DR. JERRY PUNCH is the sideline reporter.
The game marks Arkansas' first appearance on ESPN since Nov. 6, 1997, when the Razorbacks dropped a 19-9 decision at Ole Miss. That edition of the Hogs and the Ole Miss Rebels was also a Thursday night telecast.
Since that time, UA has appeared on ESPN2 seven times, including twice in each of the last three years.
PAUL EELLS will call the action on the 67-station Arkansas Razorback Sports Network. Eells is in his 24th season handling play-by-play for the Razorbacks. Former NFL tight end and Little Rock, Ark., native KEITH JACKSON is the analyst while former Hog quarterback QUINN GROVEY is the sideline reporter.

THE SERIES: UA and UNLV meet for just the second time, and it happens to be in consecutive games. The Razorbacks and Rebels played in last year's Las Vegas Bowl with UNLV posting a 31-14 victory.

QUICK REMATCH: Arkansas and UNLV are meeting for just the second time, but those two meetings are coming in consecutive games. The two clubs met in last year's Las Vegas Bowl with the Rebels claiming a 31-14 victory.

This marks the third time in school history UA has played the same opponent at the end of one season and the beginning of the following campaign. Arkansas played Fort Smith High in its only game in 1895 and opened the 1896 season against FSHS with both games played in Fayetteville. The Razorbacks closed the 1953 season and opened the 1954 season against Tulsa, again with both games played in Fayetteville.
This is the first time in UA history that the Hogs have faced a team in a bowl game and opened with the same foe in the next year's season opener.

AGAINST THE MOUNTAIN WEST: Arkansas is 6-1 all-time against teams that form the Mountain West Conference. The Hogs are 3-0 vs. Colorado State, 2-0 vs. New Mexico, 1-0 vs. Air Force and 0-1 vs. UNLV.

AT WAR MEMORIAL STADIUM: Beginning its 53rd season playing at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock, Ark., UA is 126-51-3 (.700). The Hogs have won all nine games played at War Memorial Stadium under head coach Houston Nutt.
In addition, Arkansas is 145-63-4 (.693) all-time playing in the city of Little Rock.

SEASON OPENERS: Arkansas is 82-21-4 in season openers for a winning percentage of .785. The Razorbacks have won their last four openers.
Arkansas is playing its home opener in Little Rock for the 35th time since 1948. Counting the 40-6 win over Abilene Christian in '48, the Hogs have opened the home portion of their schedule in Little Rock 34 times in 53 years and enter the 2001 opener with a 25-8-1 (.750) record in those games. Last year, Arkansas beat Southwest Missouri State, 38-0, in the opener.
Arkansas is opening its season in Little Rock in consecutive seasons for the first time since the Razorbacks played six straight openers at War Memorial Stadium from 1974-79.

UA has won four straight season openers. The last loss was in 1996 to SMU, 23-10.

HOME OPENERS: Arkansas' winning percentage in home openers is even better. In the first home game of the year, the Razorbacks have an all-time mark of 84-19-4 for a winning percentage of .804.
UA has won four straight home openers. The last loss was in 1996 to SMU, 23-10.

AUGUST GAMES: This year's Aug. 30 start date marks just the second time Arkansas has played a game in August. In its only other August contest, the Razorbacks dropped a 31-3 decision against Miami (Fla.) on Aug. 31, 1991, in Little Rock.

BOWL FOES: UNLV is the first of eight 2001 opponents which advanced to a bowl game last year. UNLV was Arkansas' opponent in the Las Vegas Bowl, Tennessee lost to Kansas State in the Cotton Bowl, 35-21; Georgia beat Virginia in the Oahu Bowl, 37-14; South Carolina beat Ohio State in the Outback Bowl, 24-7; Auburn fell to Michigan in the Florida Citrus Bowl, 31-28; Ole Miss lost to West Virginia in the Music City Bowl, 49-38; Mississippi State defeated Texas A&M in the Independence Bowl, 43-41, in overtime; and LSU downed Georgia Tech in the Peach Bowl, 28-14.
Only three teams (Alabama, North Texas and Central Florida) on the Hogs' schedule didn't make postseason play in 2000.

LAST YEAR'S SEASON OPENER: Quarterback ROBBY HAMPTON completed 17 of 22 passes for 227 yards and two touchdowns in his debut as Arkansas shut out Southwest Missouri State, 38-0, in front of a crowd of 53,946 in Little Rock. I-AA SMS had just 98 yards of total offense. FRED TALLEY ran for 72 yards on 10 carries and CEDRIC COBBS had 57 yards on 18 rushes. Each scored a touchdown. Boo Williams had four receptions for 111 yards, including a 79-yard touchdown.

ARKANSAS HEAD COACH HOUSTON NUTT: In his fourth year as head coach at Arkansas, HOUSTON NUTT (Oklahoma State, 1981) has compiled a record of 23-13 with a record of 13-11 in Southeastern Conference play.
Following back-to-back 4-7 campaigns, Nutt came in and in his first three years he posted records of 9-3, 8-4 and 6-6, and joined former coaches LOU HOLTZ (1977-83) and KEN HATFIELD (1984-98) as the only Razorback coaches to lead the Hogs to bowl games in each of their first three seasons. Holtz and Hatfield each coached Arkansas to six consecutive bowl appearances.
In his first season, 1998, Arkansas was 9-3 and shared the SEC's Western Division championship with Mississippi State. The Razorbacks played Michigan in the Florida Citrus Bowl and The Football News named Nutt National Coach of the Year.
In 1999, Arkansas beat No. 3 Tennessee and No. 12 Mississippi State during the regular season, and then dominated Texas, 27-6, in the Southwestern Bell Cotton Bowl as the Hogs went 8-4.
Last year, UA finished 6-6, but rallied with two wins over No. 13 MSU and No. 24 LSU in the final two regular season games to earn a trip to the Las Vegas Bowl.
Nutt's bloodlines are in Arkansas. He grew up in Little Rock, signed with the Razorbacks in 1976 and played a year for FRANK BROYLES, then a year for Holtz as a quarterback. He started four games as a freshman. Nutt also lettered as a guard on Arkansas' basketball team in 1976-77, which went 26-2. Following his sophomore year, he transferred to Oklahoma State where he also played football and basketball.
He returned to Fayetteville as a graduate assistant on Holtz's staff in 1983 and was wide receivers coach for the Razorbacks in 1990-92. He became head coach at Murray State where his last two teams won conference championships and played in the I-AA playoffs. He led the Racers to their first-ever playoff victory.
In 1997 he moved to Boise State and posted a 5-6 record in his only year at BSU. The Broncos were 2-10 the previous season and Sports Illustrated had ranked BSU last among the 112 I-A schools in its preseason issue.
His parents, Houston Sr. and Emogene, spent 35 years teaching at the Arkansas School for the Deaf in Little Rock. His father, a 2001 inductee into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, also served as athletic director and head basketball coach. The oldest of four Nutt boys, Houston isn't the only one carrying on his father's coaching legacy. Dickey is the head basketball coach at Arkansas State, Danny is the running backs coach on Houston's staff and Dennis is the head basketball coach at Southwest Texas State.
In his ninth season as a head coach, Nutt owns an overall record of 59-35 (.628).

Under Nutt, Arkansas:
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has played in a bowl game each of his three seasons
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is the only SEC Western Division team to play in New Year's Day bowl games two of the last three years; only Florida and Tennessee can match that feat within the league
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is 9-0 in regular season non-conference games; UA was 6-3 in its previous nine non-league games prior to Nutt's arrival
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is 17-2 playing in Little Rock and Fayetteville
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has finished in the nation's top 20 in total defense in each of his first three seasons
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has expanded and renovated Donald W. Reynolds Stadium in Fayetteville from a capacity of 51,000 to 72,000

NUTT IN SEASON-OPENERS: In his career as a head coach, Houston Nutt is 5-2 in season openers (.714), including a 3-0 mark at Arkansas. He was 2-2 at Murray State, his opener at Boise State turned into a forfeit victory and at Arkansas he has notched victories over Southwestern Louisiana (38-17) in 1998, SMU (26-0) in 1999 and Southwest Missouri State (38-0) last season.

NUTT TOUGH AT THE ROCK: UA head coach Houston Nutt is undefeated in Little Rock. Since taking over the Razorback football program in 1998, Nutt is 9-0 at War Memorial Stadium. Nutt, who is 23-13 entering the season, is almost as tough in Fayetteville with a 9-2 mark.

NUTT'S NEW COACHING ADDITIONS: Three assistant coaches are making their debut as a part of HOUSTON NUTT's staff against the Rebels. Quarterbacks coach DAVID LEE, receivers coach and recruiting coordinator GEORGE PUGH and secondary coach DAVE WOMMACK will be coaching their first game for the Hogs under Nutt.
Although in their first game on Nutt's staff, Wommack and Lee are actually in their second stints at Arkansas. Lee was the quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator (1988) at UA under Ken Hatfield from 1984-88 while Wommack was a part-time assistant in 1981-82 under Lou Holtz.

UNLV HEAD COACH JOHN ROBINSON: John Robinson, who is 11-13 in two years at UNLV, is the nation's ninth-winningest active coach with a career record of 115-48-4 (.701). His 8-1 bowl record gives him a higher postseason winning percentage (.889) than any college coach in history with a minimum of eight games. Robinson had two stints with Southern Cal. He first became head coach in 1976 and spent seven years leading the Trojans. His teams won 82 percent of their games (67-14-2) in his original run, averaging nearly 10 victories a year, including winning the 1978 national championship with a 12-1 mark. Along the way, he coached two Heisman Trophy winners (running backs Charles White in 1979 and Marcus Allen in 1981) and a Lombardi Award honoree (guard Brad Budde in 1979).
Robinson then headed to the NFL to take over the Los Angeles Rams and in his nine years (1983-91) in pro ball produced the most victories (79) in team history. He reached the playoffs six times and twice advanced to the NFC championship game (1985 & '89). He spent 1992 as a television analyst before returning to USC for the 1993 season. His second term at USC lasted until 1997 and featured three more bowl victories, including the Rose Bowl title over Northwestern following the 1995 season.

WEALTH OF EXPERIENCE: Arkansas head coach HOUSTON NUTT has compiled a staff long on coaching experience. Of the nine assistant coaches on the Razorback staff, seven have served as either an offensive or defensive coordinator or a head coach at a secondary institution.
UA assistants DAVID LEE (UTEP), GEORGE PUGH (Alabama A&M) and JAMES SHIBEST (Butler County [Kan.] CC) have previously served as head coaches. BOBBY ALLEN (DC - Arkansas, Boise State, Drake, Murray State, South Dakota), MIKE MARKUSON (OC - Alabama A&M), JOHN THOMPSON (DC - Arkansas [current], Northwestern [La.] State, Louisiana Tech, Southern Mississippi) and DAVE WOMMACK (DC - Southern Mississippi, Southwest Missouri State, UNLV) have filled the role of coordinators.

REBEL PAST: Arkansas secondary coach DAVE WOMMACK served as the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at UNLV from 1992-93 under then head coach Jim Strong. The Rebels posted a combined record of 9-13 during those two seasons.

TOUGH "D" AGAINST POTENT "O": Arkansas led the SEC and ranked 12th nationally in total defense last season, allowing 292.1 yards per game. UNLV ranked 13th in the nation in rushing offense with 227.8 yards per game. Will those numbers hold this season? The Razorbacks lost linebackers QUINTON CAVER and J.J. JONES and end RANDY GARNER to the NFL while the Rebels lost running backs Jeremi Rudolph (1,005 yards), Kevin Brown (798) and James Wofford (189), who combined to account for 1,992 of the team's 2,734 rushing yards.

THOMPSON'S DEFENSE: John Thompson is in his first season as Arkansas' sole defensive coordinator. Last year, in Thompson's first season on the staff, he and defensive line coach Bobby Allen shared the coordinator duties. He began the transition late in the season when the Razorbacks closed the year with wins over No. 13 Mississippi State and No. 24 LSU, holding the two to a combined 13 points.
In seven years at Southern Mississippi, Thompson helped USM to six winning seasons, two Conference-USA championships and a top 20 final ranking in 1997. His 1997 and 1998 units led the league in both total defense and scoring defense. He left USM for Memphis in 1999, helping the Tigers improve from 93rd nationally in scoring and 106th in total defense to 11th and 23rd, respectively.

THREE-HEADED TAILBACK: Forced by injuries last year to play multiple tailbacks, a trio of players produced, prompting UA head coach HOUSTON NUTT to claim he has three starters in the one position with the return of sophomore CEDRIC COBBS, junior FRED TALLEY and sophomore BRANDON HOLMES. The trio combined for 1,527 yards and 16 touchdowns on 318 carries, an average of 4.8 yards per rush. Talley led the team with 768 yards on 137 rushes (5.6), Holmes had 468 yards on 111 carries (4.2) and Cobbs 291 yards on 70 carries (4.2). Holmes scored seven touchdowns, Talley five and Cobbs four.
Talley had three 100-yard games (Auburn, Ole Miss and Tennessee) while Holmes (LSU) and Cobbs (Boise State) had one each. Arkansas was the only school in the Southeastern Conference in 2000 to boast three different running backs that gained at least 100 yards in a single game.

STEADY UP FRONT: Four of five starters return on the UA offensive line in 2001 giving the Hogs some experienced brawn up front. Junior center JOSH MELTON (20), senior right guard KENNY SANDLIN (24) and senior left guard LA'ZERIUS WHITE (24) have combined to start 68 consecutive games, while senior left tackle SHANNON MONEY has totaled 22 starting nods in the past two seasons.
The foursome helped lead the league in fewest sacks allowed in 1999 while paving the way for three different UA running backs to earn 100-yard rushing games in 2000.
Sophomore MARK BOKERMANN is slated to replace departed starting tackle GARY HOBBS at right tackle.

RETURNEES: Arkansas has 17 starters and 48 lettermen back from last year's 6-6 club. Seven starters are back on offense, including five up front in guards KENNY SANDLIN and LA'ZERIUS WHITE, center JOSH MELTON, tackle SHANNON MONEY and tight end MARCELLUS POYDRAS. Also back are quarterback ROBBY HAMPTON and tailback FRED TALLEY, although Hampton is still recovering from rotator cuff surgery.
Defensively, end CARLOS HALL, nose guard CURT DAVIS and end SACHA LANCASTER are back on the line, although Lancaster has also spent some time at fullback in the preseason. TONY BUA returns at outside linebacker, KEN HAMLIN at free safety and COREY G. HARRIS and EDDIE JACKSON at cornerback.
On special teams, RICHIE BUTLER is back at punter, BRENNAN O'DONOHOE at kicker and CHUCK NALLEY returns as the deep snapper.

LOST HOGS: Eight starters are gone from last year, including receiver MICHAEL SNOWDEN, fullback ROD STINSON, tackle GARY HOBBS, defensive end RANDY GARNER, linebackers QUINTON CAVER and J.J. JONES and cornerback ORLANDO GREEN. Holder MATT BURSTEIN is also gone.

WELCOME BACK: Eight Razorbacks that saw their 2000 season come to an end prematurely because of an injury are back on the field for the Hogs in 2001. Wide receiver STEADMAN CAMPBELL (fractured left ankle), tailback CEDRIC COBBS (separated right shoulder), cornerback HAROLD HARRIS (sprained left wrist), defensive tackle PERVIS OSBORNE (left knee - ACL), defensive tackle JASON PETERS (dislocated right shoulder), tight end J. STRAIN (left knee - ACL), tailback FRED TALLEY (right knee - ACL) and wide receiver GEORGE WILSON (dislocated right shoulder) all are slated to play this season.
Harris, Cobbs, Strain and Wilson all received medical hardships from the NCAA and regained their lost year of eligibility. Peters' season counted as a redshirt campaign.


RAZORBACK OFFENSE

#4 CEDRIC COBBS (TB, 6-1,221, SO-1L)
CEDRIC COBBS returns to the field after missing a majority of the 2000 season with a right shoulder separation. He appeared in only three games last season, but still managed to gain 291 yards. He is a Doak Walker Award candidate for the nation's top running back and has been named to nearly every preseason All-SEC team.

* Returns to action after missing nine games of the 2000 season due to a right shoulder separation. He was granted a medical hardship and is listed as a sophomore once again in 2001.
* Named first-team preseason All-SEC by the league media, Blue Ribbon, Lindy's and The Sporting News.
* Earned 291 yards on 70 carries in only 11 quarters of action last season.
* Despite missing nine games, he was still the Hogs' third-leading rusher.
* Rushed for a career-high 174 yards against Boise State in 2000.
* Owns 959 career rushing yards and seven rushing touchdowns on 186 carries in his Razorback career.

#7 BRANDON HOLMES (TB/FB, 6-2, 218, SO-1L)
A versatile weapon in the Razorback backfield, BRANDON HOLMES will see time at fullback and tailback this season. He is currently listed as the starting fullback and a co-starter at tailback on the depth chart.

* Named to the Rivals.com True Freshman All-America team.
* Tallied 468 yards and a team-leading seven touchdowns on 111 carries as a freshman in 2000.
* Gained 238 yards and three touchdowns on 58 carries in the final two games of the 2000 season after earning only 230 yards on 53 attempts in the previous nine contests.
* Rushed for a career-high 143 yards and a touchdown on 42 carries in an upset win over No. 24 LSU last season.

#8 RICHARD SMITH (FL, 5-10, 184, SO-1L)
RICHARD SMITH returns to the gridiron after posting the most prolific freshman campaign at wide receiver in UA history. Smith caught a school record 33 passes for 320 yards last season. He will once again be a staple in the Hogs' wide receiving corps.

* Named to Freshman All-SEC team by league coaches in 2000.
* Set a UA record with 33 catches as a freshman last season. He earned 320 yards and one touchdown.
* Recorded at least two catches in 10 of Arkansas' 12 games last season.
* Competed for legendary UA track and field coach John McDonnell in the spring.

#57 KENNY SANDLIN (OG, 6-3, 313, SR-3L)
A mainstay on the UA offensive line for the past two seasons, KENNY SANDLIN is primed for an all-star campaign in 2001. He could see time at both guard and center depending on the rest of the UA linemen configuration.

* Selected first team preseason All-SEC by The Southeastern Post and
voted second team by league media members.
* Started 24 consecutive games at offensive guard.
* Anchored a line that produced five different 100-yard rushing games by three different UA running backs in 2000. No other SEC school featured more than two.
* Shed 17 pounds since the end of the 2000 campaign.


FRED TALLEY (TB, 5-9, 180, JR-1L)
FRED TALLEY has made remarkable progress in his effort to rehabilitate his right knee from a season-ending ACL injury last November. He sat out spring practice, but has been healthy throughout the preseason. Last season, Talley provided the Hogs a spark when he rushed for 768 yards in eight games.

* Returns to the field after surgery on his right knee (ACL) at the end of last season.
* Led Arkansas in rushing last season with 768 yards on 137 carries.
* Turned in the best three-game consecutive rushing efforts in UA history against Auburn (161), Ole Miss (214) and Tennessee (142) in 2000.
* Became first UA running back since James Rouse (1989) to earn three 100-yard rushing games in a season.

OFFENSIVE TIDBITS:
* Sophomore ZAK CLARK is scheduled to start the season opener at quarterback. Clark made two starts last season.
* Junior quarterback ROBBY HAMPTON is likely to be out until at least mid-season while recovering from offseason right shoulder surgery.

RAZORBACK DEFENSE

KEN HAMLIN (FS, 6-2, 197, S0-1L)
The only UA freshman to ever lead the Razorbacks in tackles, KEN HAMLIN returns in 2001 to anchor the Hogs' secondary. Hamlin racked up 104 tackles last season and became the first freshman and only the second defensive back to pace the Razorbacks in stops. He is a preseason candidate for the Jim Thorpe Award, recognizing the nation's top defensive back.

* Tabbed as second-team preseason All-SEC by The Birmingham News, the Southeastern Post and the league media. Preaseason candidate for Jim Thorpe Award
* Named Freshman All-America by The Sporting News and the Football News in 2000.
* Selected to both the Knoxville News-Sentinel and SEC Coaches' Freshman All-SEC squads.
* Became first UA freshman in school history to lead Arkansas in tackles with 104.
* Became only the second defensive back (Kenoy Kennedy) to lead the Razorbacks in tackles.

CARLOS HALL (DE, 6-4, 261, SR-3L)
One of the Hogs' leaders on defense, CARLOS HALL is poised for a breakout season in 2001. A preseason honorable mention All-American, he earned seven tackles for loss (-21) last season.

* Named a preseason honorable mention All-American by Street and Smith's.
* Totaled 43 tackles last season including seven for lost yardage (-21). His TFL total ranked second on the squad only to All-SEC standout Quinton Caver.

DEFENSIVE TIDBITS:
* Senior SACHA LANCASTER switched back to the defensive side of the ball and is slated to play defensive end when he recovers from a sprained ankle suffered in practice (8/23).
* Arkansas has changed its defensive terminology since last season. The rover and bandit positions have been renamed strong safety and wolf (OLB) linebacker respectively.
* Sophomore EDDIE JACKSON has spent time at both cornerback and strong safety in the preseason. He is listed as the starter at boundary corner, but will play both positions.


SPECIAL TEAMS

RICHIE BUTLER (P, 6-1, 210, JR-2L)
Arguably the Hogs' most valuable player down the stretch in the 2000 season, RICHIE BUTLER returns to the field as one of the nation's top punters. A candidate for the 2001 Ray Guy Award (nation's top punter), Butler is coming off a season which saw him earn second team All-SEC honors.

* Named to the preseason second-team All-SEC squad by members of the league's media.
* Preseason candidate for the Ray Guy Award, recognizing the naton's top punter.
* Earned second team All-SEC honors from The Associated Press, SEC Coaches' and The Sporting News last season.
* Ranked third in the SEC and 12th in the nation in 2000 with a 42.8 yards-per-punt average.
* Punted 65 times for 2,784 yards last season including 42 punts over 40 yards and 17 punts over 50 yards.
* Landed 17 punts inside UA opponents' 20-yard line including five such kicks against No. 24 LSU and three vs. Louisiana-Monroe and No. 25 Auburn.

SPECIAL TEAMS TIDBITS:
* Freshman walkon DAVID CARLTON is scheduled to handle kickoff duties for the Razorbacks this season.
* Sophomore quarterback DOWELL LOGGAINS is slated to see his first action as a Razorbacks as the holder for placements.

UP NEXT: Arkansas plays the first game in expanded and renovated Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville when the Razorbacks also open Southeastern Conference play on Sept. 8 against Tennessee. The 8 p.m. contest will be televised nationally by ESPN2.

RAZORBACK BROADCASTS ON THE INTERNET: Hog fans out of ARSN radio broadcast range can listen to Arkansas games through the services of Yahoo Broadcast.com. To get the UA football broadcasts, go to www.broadcast.com/sports/ncaa/arkansas and select "Football" from the "Arkansas Sports" pull-down menu. The broadcasts may also be accessed by going through UA's official athletic web site, www.hogwired.com.

HOGWIRED.COM: For on-line access to the latest information about Arkansas' men's athletic programs, log onto www.hogwired.com. The site features rosters, statistics, bios, etc., for all eight of UA's men's sports, along with the latest press releases and game notes from the UA Sports Information Office.

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