FAYETTEVILLE — Following a 10-day break in scheduling for final exams, the University of Arkansas women’s basketball team (11-0) returns to the court inside Bud Walton Arena for a matchup against Tennessee Tech (3-7) on Friday.
With the Razorbacks off to their best start since the 2010-11 season, the grouplooks to remain unbeaten heading into the holiday break. Tennessee Tech and Mississippi Valley State (Dec. 28) mark the final two non-conference games of the season, with SEC play set to begin Jan. 2 at home against No. 10 South Carolina.
The Golden Eagles enter having lost four straight games, most recently suffering a 90-75 loss to Arkansas State. TTU’s three wins this season have come over Tennessee Wesleyan, Valparaiso and Alcorn State.
TTU finished 19-12 overall last season, including an impressive 8-5 in road games. The Golden Eagles dominated the Ohio Valley Conference, going 12-4 and earning the top spot in the league’s East Division standings to earn a share of the regular season title. TTU advanced to the championship game of the OVC tournament, but fell to UT Martin in overtime.
Friday’s meeting will mark just the second all-time between the two programs, as TTU holds a 1-0 record after claiming a 96-75 win over UA during the 1980-81 season.
"They have some similaritiesto teams that we’ve played," head coach Tom Collen said. "They made it to their conference tournament championship game last year and lost, or they would have been in the NCAA Tournament just like some other teams we’ve already played like Tulsa and Oral Roberts. They’ve played a tough schedule and they’re definitely a team that we have to take seriously."
TTU is led by Jim Davis, who put together 18 successful seasons and 14 trips to the NCAA Tournament as head coach at Clemson before retiring in 2009. Davis has since returned to coaching and was named head coach of the Golden Eagles in 2012.
"Jim Davis is a great coach and probablyone of the winningest atClemson," Collen said."They’re going to come in here and will be well coached. They’re pretty talented and are real athletic in the post. They’ve got four players that are around 6-2 and look a little bit like SEC posts."
While not large physically, Diamond Henderson carries a big game for TTU with 18.7 points per game this season. The team’s returning leading scorer, Henderson started in 21 games last season at guard for the Golden Eaglesand shot an efficient 47.8 percent from the field. She is shooting 43 percent this season, including 42.9 percent from three-point range.
T’Keyah Williams is TTU’s leading rebounder this season with 6.8 boards per game, as her 6-2 frame has presented a challenging matchup for opposing post players.
The Golden Eagles will find a challenging test in the Razorbacks defense, as Arkansas leads the nation in scoring defense for the third straight week. Allowing just 43.0 points per contest through 11 games this season, UA also ranks third in the NCAA in field-goal percentage defense (30.6%).
The Razorbacks have allowed just one opponent this season more field goals than turnovers (Northwestern State). The largest disparity came against Oral Roberts, when Arkansas surrendered just 13 field goals and forced 36 turnovers.
Arkansas and Tennessee Tech are scheduled to tip off at 7 p.m. inside Bud Walton Arena on Friday.
Free youth general admission tickets will be available for age 17 and under. Vouchers for $2 tickets sent to all schools who participated in Elementary Day are also good for use, as parents/guardians/etc. are encouraged to use them.
Season tickets are still available for the 2013-14 season. New this year, fans can choose their seat each game when they purchase a General Admission Season Ticket for $45. Reserved Season Tickets are $90 and Family Plans are available for $100. Included in the Family Plan is two adult and two youth general admission season tickets. Additional youth season tickets can be purchased for $20 each. For more information or to purchase tickets, call the Razorback Ticket Center at 1-800-982-HOGS (4647) or go online to ArkansasRazorbacks.com.
The game will air in Northwest Arkansas on KOSM-FM 92.1; in Rogers on KURM-AM 790; in Fort Smith on KFPW-FM 94.5 and 1230 AM; and in Litle Rock on KREB-FM 103.7.
For more information on Arkansas women’s basketball, follow @RazorbackWBB on Twitter.