FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — The University of Arkansas women’s basketball team puts its four-game winning streak to the test traveling to No. 18 Oklahoma Saturday.
The Razorbacks (5-1) meet their border rival Sooners (5-2) in a 2 p.m. game in Norman, Okla.
“OU is a great opportunity for us,” Arkansas head coach Tom Collen said. “There are only so many times you have a chance to play Final Four teams. We’re excited. We perform well on the road and I’m optimistic going into Norman. We are prepared and I think we can play well against them.”
Playing well will be the key against a tough Sooner team who scored 100 points in a win Thursday. Oklahoma is shooting nearly 50 percent from the floor and averages nearly 81 points a game.
The Razorbacks counter with a solid defensive team that likes to shoot the three. Senior Charity Ford leads Arkansas averaging 12.5 points-per-game and sophomore Lyndsay Harris is averaging 11.3 ppg this year.
Arkansas has won four in a row, most recently coming from behind to edge Kansas State, 60-58, in a thriller. The Razorbacks were down double figures in the second half before a late defensive surge sparked the comeback.
But Collen recognizes that Arkansas is a bit weary at this point as well. Long road trips and preparations for final exams have not gone unnoticed.
“We’re a little tired right now,” he said. “We just don’t have any time to rest. We have a young team and we lack a true vocal leader so sometimes we struggle to push through things. We have leaders on the team who lead by example.”
In addition to Oklahoma’s obvious talent, the Razorbacks face several other obstacles in Norman.
“We are going to have to handle their crowd and maintain our composure,” Collen said. “They play with the confidence level of a team who has been to the NCAA Tournament. They are also going to apply a lot of pressure and we’re going to have to take care of the ball.”
Collen noted that the Razorbacks’ schedule has increased with difficulty and challenges as the season progressed. He sees OU as the next step for Arkansas.
“I’m happy with our record right now,” Collen said. “We have some momentum going into OU. IT’s time for us to have a greater challenge on the court. We’re not at the point where we have to be ready for the SEC yet but this is the next step in getting there.”
Arkansas returns to Bud Walton Arena hosting Coppin State Tuesday, Dec. 8, at 7 p.m. in the final game before finals. The Razorbacks have a road swing to Northwestern and the Dual in the Desert in Las Vegas, Nev., Dec. 17-21, in the final games before the holiday break.