Arkansas-Missouri Hoops Series Back On

FAYETTEVILLE -- To paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of the death of the Arkansas-Missouri basketball series have been greatly exaggerated.

The two schools will play each other next season after all, on Nov. 30 at Mizzou Arena in Columbia, Mo., and will also play during the 2007-2008 season in Fayetteville.

"We didn't ever think the series was dead," said Missouri assistant coach Matt Zimmerman on Tuesday. "The issue was the date. Our athletic director (Mike Alden) talked to (UA executive associate athletic director) Bill Gray today and worked out a date. We felt we needed the game. Arkansas is a quality opponent and we want to play them every year."

Arkansas assistant athletic director Kevin Trainor, after indicating Monday that the series would not be extended, said Tuesday, "Missouri called back and we were able to work out a date that was beneficial. We're pleased that the series will be played the next two years."

Besides Missouri, Arkansas will also play Texas Tech of the Big 12 Conference next season in North Little Rock and will begin a four-year, home-and-home series against Big 12 member Texas next season, starting with a game in Austin.

The following season, 2007-2008, Arkansas will meet Oklahoma of the Big 12 at Norman, Okla., in the first of a four-year, home-and-home series.

"We've been looking to enhance our nonconference schedule," Trainor said, "and we've also talked to other top teams from around the country."

Zimmerman, a former UA basketball manager from 1987-1990 who assisted new Mizzou coach Mike Anderson at Alabama-Birmingham the past four seasons, said, "There's more flexibility in scheduling now. The conference tournaments will no longer be counted as one game -- they'll be counted as none -- and there's a proposal to add one game."

Zimmerman, who once hurried to the UA locker room to retrieve coach Nolan Richardson for an overtime period of an Arkansas-Texas game that the Hogs eventually won in Austin, said, "I called Arkansas' basketball staff last Thursday. We didn't want to lose the (Arkansas-Missouri) game over a date. We've got Arkansas people all over our staff."

Anderson, who assisted Richardson for years at Arkansas and served as the UA interim coach for two games in 2002, "wanted to keep the game," Zimmerman said.

Arkansas never had an objection to playing against an Anderson-coached Missouri team, Trainor said.

"We had tried to solidify the series after coach Anderson was hired there," Trainor said. "But when we finalized some other series, there was a small window for nonconference dates and a tight jigsaw puzzle for television."

The Arkansas-Missouri game, if not picked up nationally, will be shown on ARSN TV, Trainor said.

"I love the series," said Missouri basketball media relations director Dave Reiter. "I'm excited about it."

Arkansas leads the Missouri series 18-17, having won the last eight games (1992-1998 and 2004-2005).

The Razorbacks lead Oklahoma 12-9, despite losing the last four meetings (2000-2003), and lead Texas 84-64, with wins in seven of the last eight meetings in that series from 1989-1991. Arkansas is tied 38-38 with Texas Tech.

UA coach Stan Heath was out of town Tuesday and unavailable for comment.

Heath indicated last week that he would begin in earnest on May 1 his search for a new assistant coach to succeed Ronny Thompson, the new head coach at Ball State.


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