FAYETTEVILLE – Tom Collen and the University of Arkansas women’s basketball team return to the court hosting Oral Roberts in the first of two home games in Bud Walton Arena this week.
The Razorbacks (9-0) open the week with the Golden Eagles (5-5) in a 7 p.m. game Thursday followed by a 5 p.m. contest with No. 11/13 Oklahoma Sunday.
The games come after what will be a 12-day break from competition while the Razorbacks focused on final exams.
"We are excited to be back playing again," Collen said. "It’ll be about 12 days since our last game. We had a lot of momentum and we hope to be able to continue that beginning with ORU on Thursday."
Arkansas has gotten out to a 9-0 start, the second best start in program history. The Razorbacks continue to receive votes in a pair of national polls for the second week in a row.
Part of the reason for Arkansas’ success early this season has been the balanced play of the team. The Razorbacks are paced by juniors Lyndsay Harris and C’eira Ricketts who average 12.7 ppg and 12.6 ppg respectively.
And while guard play is traditionally a strength for the Razorbacks, Arkansas has gotten great play inside as well with sophomore Sarah Watkins averaging 12.1 ppg and junior Ashley Daniels checking in with 9.1 ppg and 7.2 rpg this year.
Finally, Arkansas has gotten great bench play from freshman Keira Peak. Peak has played significant minutes in every game and averages 9.8 ppg in her first year.
"Sarah is on track for a good year," Collen said. "Ashley has been consistent and Keira has been somewhat of a surprise for us as a fifth scorer. That type of balance makes it harder for teams to prepare for us."
The Razorbacks have spent much of the last week working on individual skills and conditioning.
"We’ve worked a lot on our team," Collen said, "not our opponents this week. The break (from competition) has been good. The question is, are we in game mode."
Arkansas will have to answer that question quickly if they are to be successful against ORU. The Golden Eagles were also idle last week but enter Bud Walton on a three-game winning streak. The average 82.5 ppg and are paced by Kevi Luper with 23.8 ppg. She is one of three players averaging double-digits.
"Our fans should not underestimate ORU," Collen said. "They ranked among the nation’s leaders in scoring last year and are strong again this year. I feel familiar with them and we know they implement the dribble-drive very well. They have had a couple of games in which they have scored more than 100 points. We know that we are probably not going to hold them to 55 points like we have our other opponents and we know that we are going to have to score more often. This will be our greatest challenge of the season."
The Razorbacks wrap up December hosting Furman Dec. 28, at 7 p.m. Arkansas begins Southeastern Conference play Jan. 2 at Florida in a game televised by SunSports.