FAYETTEVILLE — The University of Arkansas women’s basketball team returns to the hardwood Sunday hosting Vanderbilt in Southeastern Conference action in Bud Walton Arena.
The Razorbacks (9-11, 1-6 SEC) had a bye date Thursday while Vanderbilt (14-6, 3-4) hosts Alabama.
“We got a little extra rest and a chance to focus on the details this week,” sophomore Lyndsay Harris said of the break.
“The extra time has been good,” agreed senior Charity Ford. “It was great because we got a lot of reps both on offense and defense this week. We should be prepared for Vanderbilt.”
Razorback head coach Tom Collen echoed those thoughts.
“It always helps to have four or five days to prepare,” Collen said. “You only get one bye week in the SEC schedule and we really want to take advantage of it.”
The Razorbacks are coming off their first SEC win of the season, a 66-62 overtime victory in Tuscaloosa, Ala., Sunday. Although the players insist their confidence is good, the win doesn’t hurt.
“The win was good, no doubt,” Harris said. “The energy in practice this week has been close to game speed. The win gave us a spark and helped to jump start us out of the rut we’ve been in.”
“This team practices hard every day,” Collen said. “They continue to come in and prepare for the next game with good energy and desire but there is no doubt the win helps. This team speaks of their confidence but we still get frustrated and it takes time to work through things. This win is a reward for not quitting and is a welcome boost.”
The Razorbacks continue to get solid leadership from their starters who have been pretty steady all season. Harris leads the team with 12.2 ppg followed by Ford with 11.9 ppg. Sophomore C’eira Ricketts is averaging 10.3 ppg and sophomore Ashley Daniels leads the team with 7.1 rpg.
Vanderbilt is paced by Merideth Marsh averaging 15.1 ppg and Jence Rhoads with 13.2 ppg this year. They have scored better than Arkansas this season, 773 ppg-66.9 ppg but Arkansas has the rebounding edge, 40.5 rpg-36.9 rpg.
“Vanderbilt plays hard and smart,” Collen said. “They are not a big team but they are very physical. I’ve seen them play at times with five guards on the floor against bigger teams who couldn’t take advantage of that.”
The Vanderbilt contest is the first of the final four home games for Arkansas this season. The Razorbacks hit the road for a game at Tennessee Feb. 4, and return to Bud Walton hosting Kentucky Feb. 7.