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No. 22/24 Razorbacks open at Florida

BY ANDRES FOCIL
No. 22/24 Razorbacks open at Florida

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The No. 22/24 University of Arkansas women’s basketball team tests its perfect record with the start of Southeastern Conference play at Florida Sunday.

Arkansas enters the game with a 12-0 record, the second-best start in program history. They face a Florida team who is 10-4 this year but a perfect 7-0 in the O’Connell Center. The game is scheduled for a 2 p.m. central tip and will be televised by FSN/SUN.

"We are excited to see what type of team we are vs. the SEC teams," said junior guard Lyndsay Harris. "It’s a chance to prove how good we really are. We’re going in there and try to play our game and not think about what others are saying about us. Our focus is on ourselves."

Harris leads a talented and balanced group of Razorbacks onto the floor for Sunday’s game. The Hoover, Ala., native averages 13.3 ppg followed by junior C’eira Ricketts with 12.8 ppg and sophomore Sarah Watkins with 12.4 ppg.

Florida, meanwhile, has one starter in double figures in Jordan Jones. Their balance is also good and their defense and rebounding even better. The Gators out-rebound opponents by a 7.4 rpg average this year.

"We recognize there are two seasons that are important," head coach Tom Collen said. "The first is the non-conference season and we have been very successful in that. I’m happy with where we are at. Now, we start again for the conference. We want to take the confidence and momentum we have built into SEC play. This team really wants to prove they belong in the top half of the SEC."

The series between Arkansas and Florida has been dominated by the Gators, 18-7, but the Razorbacks picked up a big win in Gainesville in 2009 and lost by just six in Bud Walton Arena last year.

Harris scored 21 points against Florida last year and Ricketts added 11 but Arkansas hit just two three-pointers and struggled to get to the line, giving the Gators 10 more bonus shots in the game.

"Florida is an in-your-face, pressure, man-to-man team," Collen said. "They love to trap and to press and they have been extremely successful in their house. They have two losses this year, both on the road, against teams in the top 25 and I feel like they would have won those games if they were at home. Florida is as good as any top 25 team in the country."

Arkansas has faced some tough opponents this year as well and had its struggles in its four road games. But Arkansas has pulled out the close games and stuck together when it got hard.

"This team believes in each other and in the coaching staff," Collen said. "I know that if this team gets knocked down, they will get back up."

"It helps that our starters are mostly juniors and have more experience," said Harris. "Now we are the team with the veterans. That confidence comes from hard work and motivation. We can’t wait to play."

The Razorbacks return home for their SEC opener hosting No. 11 Kentucky Jan. 6. Fans can enjoy $1 tickets for the game. Please contact the Razorback Ticket Center at 479-575-5151.



Sports Category : Basketball (W)