'Ro' Vaughn Not Surprised By Arkansas' Hot Start

FAYETTEVILLE -- No one fills out a stat sheet quite like Arkansas junior guard Rochelle Vaughn.

Heading into tonight's game against Louisiana-Lafayette in North Little Rock, Vaughn leads Arkansas in minutes played (28.8 per game), field goals made and attempted (4-of-11.4 per game) and 3-pointers made and attempted (1.4-of-4.5 per game); is second in points (11.1), steals (3.3) and turnovers (3.0); third in assists (2.6) and fourth in rebounds (3.8).

Unlike many, Vaughn is not surprised by the Lady Razorbacks' 7-1 start.

"I knew we could do it," she said. "I always expect to win. We have very competitive people on this team."

At just 5-foot-9, Vaughn asks no quarter and gives none.

"We won't roll over and die, and we won't beat ourselves," Vaughn said.

The Lady'Backs are 3-1 in games decided by six points or fewer, including a 55-51 loss to No. 21 Purdue.

"We should've beaten Purdue," Vaughn said, bristling at the memory of an offensive meltdown in the final eight minutes. "We made some bad decisions in the last two minutes."

Vaughn held herself personally responsible for one of those decisions.

"I let a girl make a 3-pointer down the stretch," Vaughn recalled. "I went for the steal and left her open."

Arkansas has put together a five-game winning streak since the Purdue game and has a chance to equal its best start ever (9-1) with wins over ULL tonight and Oregon at home next Tuesday.

The Lady'Backs went just 5-9 in the Southeastern Conference last season and missed the NCAA Tournament for the first time in four seasons. But Vaughn sees no reason why they can't return to postseason.

"If we come together, we can be one of the top five or six teams in the SEC," she said. "This conference started out with the 1-2-3 teams in the nation (Tennessee, LSU, Georgia) and Vanderbilt was up high, too, but I believe we can match up well with most teams. Our goal is to get to the NCAA Tournament, and we're not going to be denied."

The key, Vaughn said, is to improve in each practice.

Arkansas coach Susie Gardner credits senior guard April Seggebruch with helping Vaughn improve.

"April has done a lot of extra shooting and now she's got Ro doing it, too," Gardner said.

Vaughn is shooting just 35.2 percent from the field, but a team-high 82.4 percent from the free throw line.

"If I set my feet, I think the ball is going in every time," Vaughn said. "It doesn't always go in, but I've been looking to shoot more."

Vaughn has the shooting edge over her sister Brittney, a UA freshman who's hitting 31.3 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from the foul line.

Those numbers notwithstanding, Gardner has been pleased with the Vaughn sisters' interaction on the court.

"Ro is just trying to help Brittney," Gardner said. "She doesn't want Brittney to look bad."

Brittney said about her sister, "She motivates me."

The two usually play on different teams in practice.

"Brittney is usually on the White team," Rochelle said. "She gets mad because I try to beat her. But I just want her to get better. We don't get physical with each other. We make comments, but by the next play it's over with."

Vaughn's teammates voted her a tri-captain, so she has tried to fill a leadership role.

"Ro is a lot more vocal than Brittney," Gardner said. "With no games the last week we've worked with Ro a lot on fundamentals -- who to pass the ball to and when. Even at this level, players can always improve in that area."

Against Memphis, while letting a 21-point lead slip to two points in the second half, Vaughn and her teammates made some fundamental mistakes on offense that compounded their situation.

That's one reason Gardner emphasized the basics in some drills the past week.

Though the Lady'Backs are undersized compared to many SEC teams, their experience and competitiveness at guard with Vaughn and Kristin Peoples should keep them in many games.

Both Vaughn and Peoples are confident that they can make plays in the clutch.

So can 6-foot forward Sarah Pfiefer, the team's resident free spirit.

"Sarah is my roommate, and she cracks me up," Vaughn said. "I make her cook, and I do the cleaning. I can make an omelet, but she doesn't eat breakfast."

Both Vaughn sisters started playing basketball early in life. Ezekiel Vaughn, their father, is a minister who played high school sports with UA football coach Houston Nutt at Little Rock Central.

"He let us play when we were so young our jerseys were falling off," Brittney recalled. "He always knew we wanted to play, whether it was soccer, volleyball, basketball or softball. Rochelle is a good softball player."

Rochelle Vaughn is a good student, too. A communications major with a minor in Spanish, she'll graduate in three-and-a-half years, with the aid of just one summer term.

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