FAYETTEVILLE — The University of Arkansas women’s basketball team (14-3, 1-3 SEC) looks to get back on track and steal another SEC road win, as the team travels to face Georgia (12-5, 0-4 SEC) on Thursday at the Stegeman Coliseum in Athens, Ga.
The Razorbacks enter the matchup having dropped three of their first four SEC games in close fashion, with each loss decided by seven points or less. Arkansas lost to No. 13/12 South Carolina by four points, fell at Florida by seven points and most recently lost its home matchup with Mississippi State by four points.
"I think this has been a good challenge for our young team. They’ve got to find a way to bounce back," head coach Tom Collen said. "This is life in the SEC. You hate coming off a two-game losing streak and then have to go on the road and face a traditional, top-25 team, but that’s the challenge we face. If we can rise up and do what we need to do, then we take a huge step in the right direction."
Also looking to right its ship is Georgia, who has opened SEC play with four straight losses to Vanderbilt, No. 5 Tennessee, Missouri and most recently Texas A&M. The Lady Bulldogs have held a 9-2 record at home this season, however, and always prove to be a tough road contest.
"Every game in the SEC is a big challenge and this is going to be a great challenge for us," Collen said of Georgia. "It’s an unusual situation. I doubt that Georgia has ever been 0-4 in the SEC, so I know they’re going to be motivated and they need to get on the board. I expect them to come out and really play hard to defend their home turf."
Three Lady Bulldogs average double-digit scoring, led by Tiaria Griffin with 12.2 points per game. Shacobia Barbee (11.9) and Khaalidah Miller (11.0) also average double digits. Krista Donald has provided a spark for the team so far in SEC play, leading the team with 12.3 points and a team-best 6.5 rebounds per contest so far in league play.
Georgia has struggled to shoot the ball so far this season, particularly from distance, and will face a stiff defense in Arkansas. The Lady Bulldogs have shot 41.8 percent from the floor this season, but just 28.4 percent from three-point range. Arkansas ranks fourth in the SEC and 14th in the NCAA for field-goal percentage defense, having held opponents to 34.1 percent shooting this season.
Buying in on the defensive end all season long, the Razorbacks continue to lead the SEC and now rank second in the NCAA for scoring defense, holding opponents to just 47.9 points per game this season. In its last game, Arkansas held Mississippi State to a season-low 54 points, which marked the 10th team this season the Razorbacks have held to a season-low total.
Jessica Jackson and McKenzie Adams have paced the Razorbacks offensively during SEC play so far this season, with Jackson averaging a team-leading 15.8 points per game and Adams pouring in 13.5 points per league contest. Jackson and Adams scored 23 points each in the team’s road loss at Florida, which marked a career-high total for both freshmen.
With Jhasmin Bowen back in the starting lineup (injury), Collen is looking for more from his upperclassmen, includingCalli Berna and Keira Peak,to lead this young Razorback team through the hostile road environments of the SEC. Bowen missed two of the team’s first four SEC matchups, while Berna and Peak have combined to shoot just 23.9 percent from the floor so far this SEC season.
"This team went on the road and they beat Missouri, which I thought was a pretty good win," Collen said. "But, then they slipped up against Florida. I think this is going to be a different challenge for us. It’s a unique situation and we’ll see if we can prove to ourselves that we can be road tough."
Arkansas and Georgia are scheduled for a 6 p.m. opening tip on Thursday inside Stegeman Coliseum.
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