FAYETTEVILLE – Tom Collen takes his Lady Razorback basketball team on the road after an undefeated start through a flurry of four games in ten days.
Arkansas travels to San Antonio, Texas, for the UTSA Thanksgiving Classic on Friday and Saturday.
Texas-San Antonio is the host, but this is a “classic” format with the bracket preset for the Lady Razorbacks. Arkansas will not play the Roadrunners this weekend, taking on Georgia Southern on Friday at 5 p.m., then UNO on Saturday at 2 p.m. The schedule flip-flops for the Roadrunners, who play after Arkansas each day.
The Lady’Backs are led by three in double digits, and have seen career scoring highs or near highs from four different players in the first four games of the year. Senior Lauren Ervin leads the squad with 14.8 ppg and 8 rpg. Junior forward Whitney Jones (11.3 ppg, 6.7 rpg) joins Ervin on the inside. Swing guard Ayana Brereton (12.5 ppg, 4.8 rpg) is third in scoring. Guards Brittney Vaughn (8 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 3 apg) and Charity Ford (7.5 ppg, 3 rpg) round out Arkansas’ starters.
The Eagles of Georgia Southern arrives at UTSA riding the roller coaster. The Eagles have alternated wins and losses, with a huge 105-66 defeat at Georgia throwing their stats off kilter. Shawnda Atwood is the top Eagle in scoring with 14.5 ppg, but GSU has three other players hovering right around the double-digit mark led by Jessia Geiger (9.5 ppg) and sub Ashley Melson (9.5 ppg).
UNO can run its record in the Southland Conference to 4-0 with a win on Friday night before facing the Lady Razorbacks on Saturday. Unfortunately, UNO plays in the Sun Belt but has a sweep of SLC foes in its first three games. Solid offensive numbers and quality defense have guided UNO to an undefeated start. Talishia Young is coming off the bench as the team’s leading scorer and second leading rebounder.
Arkansas won its only game against Georgia Southern — a contest from the Final Four season of 1998. Interestingly, it was the first game of a Thanksgiving tournament — the old Arkansas Dial Classic. The Lady’Backs have a longer history with UNO, taking six wins including a neutral court game in the state of Texas. The last meeting with UNO is a bit more relevant than GSU’s. The Lady’Backs defeated the Privateers at Walton Arena two years ago.
Arkansas on Thanksgiving Friday is harder to handle than the 4 a.m. rush for Wii at Wal-Mart — the Lady’Backs sport a 16-5 record on this most traditional of opening round games for holiday tournaments. Arkansas won its last post-T’Day game, against Denver at the Rainbow Wahine last season. Previous, Arkansas lost two straight — one in a single game at Oregon in 2005-06 then the opening round at the TAMU-Corpus Christi tournament to nationally-ranked Purdue, 55-51, in 2004-05. Arkansas has never lost a neutral court Black Friday game to an unranked opponent (the other losses were to hosts, like Tenn. Tech back in 1981-82 or 11th-ranked Kansas State, or a road game at Missouri State).
The away games continue with the first true road game of the season at Missouri next Wednesday, Nov. 28, at 6:30 p.m. in Columbia, Mo.