FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — The University of Arkansas women’s basketball team (2-0) welcomes Furman (1-1) into Bud Walton Arena on Saturday, as the Razorbacks host their third non-conference game of the season.
"Furman is going to be a good quality opponent for us," head coach Tom Collen said. "They return most of their veteran players. They had one of their better players out last year but they’ve got her back. They also signed a couple pretty good freshmen. They look like a substantially better team than last year."
Finishing 12-18 overall and 8-12 in Southern Conference play last season, Furman makes the trip back to Fayetteville after the two programs faced last season in South Carolina. The Razorbacks claimed a 73-38 victory in the previous contest. Collen is 3-0 all-time against Furman in his coaching career.
Entering Saturday’s matchup, Furman has averaged 20 turnovers a game, while the Arkansas defense has forced its opponents into an average of 30 mistakes an outing. UA forced Oral Roberts into 23 first-half turnovers alone on Wednesday. Kelsey Brooks leads all Razorbacks with eight individual steals this season.
Post play figures to be another point of emphasis in the matchup, with the Paladins averaging almost 10 rebounds more per game than the Razorbacks this season. Savonia Bryan leads Furman with 8.0 rebounds per contest through two games this season.
Reserves could play a big role for both teams as well, as Furman’s bench totaled 40 points and the team picked up its first win of the season Tuesday in a 79-31 victory over Brevard. On the other side, UA saw its bench contribute 41 points in a 91-33 route of Oral Roberts.
At the center of UA’s high-scoring offense so far this season has been Calli Berna, as the junior point guard has done her part in orchestrating a balanced and efficent Razorback offensive attack.
"Calli is the centerpiece of our offense," Collen said. "I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, she’s arguably the best point guard in the SEC in terms of distributing the basketball and doing a lot of little things right. With everything we do, the ball ends up back in her hands."
The Fayetteville, Ark., native, ranks first in the SEC in assists (10.5 apg) and is also tied for the conference lead in three-point field goal percentage (.800). Berna dished out 13 dimes and had no turnovers in UA’s season-opener against Sam Houston State, which remains the most by a player in the SEC this season.
The Paladins are led by reigning Southern Conference Freshman of the Year, Holli Wilkins. The 5-11 forward out of Atlanta is averaging 13.5 points and 6.5 rebounds through two games this season, after averaging 6.9 ppg and 3.4 rpg last season. Wilkins is the daughter of former NBA standout Gerald Wilkins and the neice of NBA Hall of Famer Dominique Wilkins.
Potential exists for a high-scoring affair on Saturday, as the Paladins enter having shot 53.4 percent from the floor in their recent win over Brevard, while the Razorbacks were 42.2 percent in their win over ORU.
Arkansas (2-0) and Furman (1-1) are scheduled to tip off at 1 p.m. inside Bud Walton Arena on Saturday.
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 on Arkansas women’s basketball, follow @RazorbackWBB on Twitter.