FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The Arkansas Razorbacks are ranked. With Illinois coming to town tonight, it's a good bet they're going to be rankled, too.
"Arkansas' going to meet us at the state line with police to make sure nothing happens to us so that we're ready to play," Illini women's basketball coach Theresa Grentz joked this week. "They remember what happened here last year."
What happened at Huff Hall on Jan. 9, 1996, was this: A 5-7 Illinois team minus one starter and its top reserve stunned a 14th-ranked Arkansas team 88-64. The Illini led by 19 points at halftime and held the Razorbacks 10 points below their scoring average entering the game.
"The story was Illinois tonight," unhappy Arkansas coach Gary Blair afterward said.
Blair and his Razorbacks get their shot at revenge at 7 tonight, when the Illini begin a three-game, five-day road trip.
Tenth-ranked Arkansas, 12-1 overall and 2-0 in the Southeastern Conference, has won its last eight games. Its lone loss was at Rice on Dec. 3.
Illinois, 10-3 overall and 3-1 in the Big Ten Conference, has won three in a row and 7 of 8.
Arkansas is the final nonconference team on Illinois' schedule. The Illini return to Big Ten play at 7 p.m. Friday at Minnesota. Then it's on to Michigan for a 1 p.m. contest on Sunday.
Illinois has faced one other ranked team this season, knocking off then-No. 16 Wisconsin on the road 73-67.
Senior guard Kimberly Wilson is Arkansas' leading scorer, averaging 16.8 points. UI junior forward Ashley Berggren is averaging a team-leading 18.2. Berggren and junior forward Nicole Vasey combined to score 53 against Arkansas last year.