Tom Murphy is a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of Louisiana Tech University, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and voter for the Heisman Trophy and AP Top 25 football poll. Murphy was the 2017 Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year.
UA gymnastics to face big crowd
Arkansas coach Mark Cook cheers his athletes Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019, during the Razorbacks' meet with No. 2 Oklahoma in Barnhill Arena in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE -- The No. 14 University of Arkansas gymnastics team will get its first dose of a big road crowd this season in tonight's SEC opener.
The Razorbacks will take on No. 16 Kentucky at Rupp Arena at 5 p.m. Central. The meet will broadcast live on the SEC Network.
Arkansas Gymnastics at Kentucky
WHEN 5 p.m.
WHERE Rupp Arena, Lexington, Ky.
RECORDS Arkansas 1-1, 0-0 SEC; Kentucky 2-2, 0-0
SERIES Arkansas leads 23-9.
TV SEC Network
RANKINGS No. 14 Arkansas 195.688; No. 16 Kentucky 195.538
EVENTS Vault: No. 12 Arkansas 48.988, No. 20 Kentucky 48.875; Bars: No. 17 Kentucky 48.913, No. 29 Arkansas 48.638; Beam: No. 9 Kentucky 49.05, No. 10 Arkansas 49.038; Floor: No. 13 Arkansas 49.025, No. 34 Kentucky 48.7
The Razorbacks will compete in Rupp Arena, capacity 23,500, for the first time. … Kentucky won last year’s meet 196.95 to 196.525 at Barnhill Arena. … Kentucky has won the past four meetings against Arkansas. … The Razorbacks posted the program’s first victory at Kentucky on Feb. 7, 2003. … Arkansas has a 5-3 record in Lexington, winning the first five meets there.
"They've really done an outstanding job marketing their program," Arkansas Coach Mark Cook said. "I think they've sold 12,000 tickets to this meet, so it's going to be very, very loud."
The Razorbacks (1-1) are coming off a road victory at Arizona with a crowd listed at 2,759 in attendance at the McKale Center.
They have never competed at spacious Rupp Arena before.
"So this is a new venue," Cook said. "This is going to be exciting.
"It's going to be a good test for the girls, as far as not getting distracted by such a large crowd. But that prepares us again for some of the other programs in the SEC that have large crowds as well."
Arkansas likely will put up junior Jessica Yamzon and sophomore Sarah Shaffer in the all-around competition. Shaffer is coming off an all-around title last week with a 39.15.
Junior Michaela Burton, who has a sore ankle, will compete on just two events after doing all four in the opener and three last week.
"This is the privilege of having a deeper roster than we've had in the past," Cook said. "We're able to rest some kids. We're going to keep her off the pounding events. She's only going to do bars and balance beam this week, and see how she feels on Monday."
Sophomore Sophia Carter has been the Razorbacks' top specialist through two weeks with two floor titles and one on the beam. She's tied for No. 10 nationally on the floor exercise with a 9.912 average, and she's one of three Razorbacks (Burton and Yamzon) tied for No. 62 on the balance beam with a 9.813 average.
Junior Hailey Garner and freshman Kennedy Hambrick are tied at No. 45 on the balance beam with an average score of 9.825.
Shaffer is No. 28 in the country with an all-around average of 39.15, tied with Kentucky junior All-American Mollie Korth.
The Wildcats are 2-2 after placing third with a 195.1 in a quad meet at Illinois last week. Kentucky, battling through injuries, posted its lowest score since 2017.
Sports on 01/18/2019
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