FAYETTEVILLE – The 25th-ranked University of Arkansas women’s basketball team puts their 11-0 record to the test hosting Furman (6-5) in non-conference action Tuesday, Dec. 28, at 7 p.m. in Bud Walton Arena.
The Razorbacks were idle over the holiday break after a thrilling 10-point win over No. 12 Oklahoma Dec. 19. The victory and the team’s perfect record moved the Razorbacks into the Associated Press and the USA TODAY/ESPN Coaches Polls at No. 25 last week.
"Any time you can go home for Christmas on a winning streak it makes the holiday more relaxing," said Arkansas head coach Tom Collen. "But any time you take a couple days off you worry about the team’s mind frame coming back. We have two practices to get ready for Furman before we begin SEC play. This team understands that the most important season-the SEC season- is ahead."
Furman enters the contest on a two-game skid with losses at UNC-Greensboro and Wake Forest before the break. They have three players averaging in double figures led by Kelly O’Connor with 12.7 ppg.
Arkansas counters with three players of its own averaging double-digits. Junior C’eira Ricketts leads the team with 13.2 ppg closely followed by junior Lyndsay Harris with 13.1 ppg. Sophomore Sarah Watkins checks in with 12.5 ppg this year.
"We are happy to be back on campus," Watkins said. "We are ready to get back to working hard this week."
"We are coming off that OU win," Harris added, "and we’re excited to be back in the gym working hard to get ready for Furman.
"The No. 25 ranking is nice," Harris continued, "but we’ve always believed we were a top 25 team. It’s nice that the rest of the country is giving us some recognition for that. We’re just going to go out and keep doing what we are doing and take care of each game one game at a time."
Furman puts a young team out on the court against the Razorbacks. The aforementioned O’Connor is a senior as is starter Kendra Berry but the other three starters are sophomores.
Arkansas is paced by a strong junior class that includes Harris, Ricketts and fellow starters Ashley Daniels and Jamesha Townsend. That extra year of experience has been the difference for Arkansas this season.
"This is a confident team," Collen said of the Razorbacks. "Last year, we went into the break on a losing streak and it took us a while to regroup. This team is back from break ready to be intense and focus on Furman."
The Furman game is the final one before the Razorbacks begin Southeastern Conference play. The game features pom poms to cheer on the team as well as a halftime show from Williams Dance Center. Arkansas travels to Florida Jan. 2, and hosts No.11 Kentucky Jan. 6, as league play begins. The Kentucky game is $1 night and rally towels will be given away.