The Arkansas women's basketball team got its first victory over a top-five-ranked team in 17 years on Sunday, as the No. 16 Razorbacks upset No. 4 Baylor 83-78 in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
Arkansas' previous such victory was against No. 2 LSU on Jan. 19, 2003. That was in current Texas A&M coach Gary Blair's final season with the Razorbacks.
Arkansas' highlight as a program came under Blair in 1998, when the Razorbacks went to the Women's Final Four. But Arkansas has been to the NCAA tournament just twice (2012 and '15) since Blair left.
Under coach Mike Neighbors, who took over the program in 2017, Arkansas has been on the ascent. The Razorbacks were 24-8 overall and 10-6 in the SEC last season, and would have made the 2020 NCAA field if there had been a tournament. They got a big win on their 2020-21 résumé on Sunday, handing Baylor just its sixth loss since the start of the 2017-18 season.
It was the first time the Razorbacks have defeated a defending national champion -- which Baylor still is from 2019 -- since they beat Tennessee on Dec. 29, 1996.
"It's felt like something big was going to happen for the last couple of weeks," said Neighbors, a native of Arkansas now coaching at his alma mater. "Everybody just came together, and you've got to do that anytime you knock off a team that's got defending national champions on it.
"What it is, is validation for all of these kids [who hear], 'Hey, why are you going to Arkansas? They haven't done anything.' A win over a team like that is validation for all of us."
Arkansas was led by guards Amber Ramirez and Chelsea Dungee, both fifth-year seniors, who had 23 and 22 points, respectively.
The Razorbacks are 5-1; their only loss is to Maryland, currently ranked No. 14. The Bears fell to 2-1.
"Mike's come home; he grew up here in Arkansas, so he takes a lot of pride in wearing that Razorback shirt," Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said. "I know that he wants to turn the program around."