FAYETTEVILLE — The University of Arkansas women’s basketball team (13-0) turns its efforts to SEC play as it tips off conference play and welcomes South Carolina (12-1) to Bud Walton Arena on Thursday night.
Yet to suffer its first loss this season, the Razorbacks look to prove their undefeated start is no fluke. The Gamecocks provide a great opening test for a team with just a lone senior (Keira Peak) and seven freshmen (five true freshmen).
"This is one of the more talented teams that we’ve had," head coach Tom Collen told media on Tuesday. "We’re certainly a young team and we certainly need to get some more experience. We want it to show up right away though. On Thursday night, we want to show people that our 13-0 record isn’t a fluke."
Meanwhile, the Gamecocks enter having dropped just one game this season in a 74-66 loss to North Carolina at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
The 28th all-time meeting between the two programs, Arkansas holds a 17-10 advantage in the series history, including a 10-3 record in Fayetteville against South Carolina. The Razorbacks hosted the Gamecocks at Bud Walton Arena last season, as USC stole a 43-40 road victory. USC has won three of the last four matchups.
Four players are averaging double-digit scoring for USC, led by Tiffany Mitchell and Aleighsa Welch. Mitchell ranks eighth in the SEC (15.1 ppg) and Welch is 12th (14.2 ppg). Mitchell also leads the team in total assists (48) and steals (32). She is shooting 53.4 percent from the field, including 48.5 percent from three-point range.
Alaina Coates has also recently emerged as a scorer for the Gamecocks and enters having averaged 20 points and 91.7 percent shooting over her last two games. In addition, the 6-foot-4 center has hauled in an average of 8.5 rebounds and 3.0 blocks the last two games.
For Arkansas, Jessica Jackson is averaging 14.8 points per game and ranks 10th in the SEC. The highest-ranking freshman scorer in the conference, Jackson has reached double digits in 12 of 13 games this season.
Junior Calli Berna continues to run the show for the Razorbacks and leads the SEC with 104 assists, averaging a league-leading 8.0 dimes per game. The Fayetteville, Ark., native is also first in the conference in assist/turnover ratio (4.3). She recorded the team’s first double-double of the season with 12 points and 11 assists against SEMO (11/29).
South Carolina ranks second behind Arkansas in the SEC for assist/turnover ratio. Arkansas enters with the No. 1 scoring defense (44.6 ppg) in the NCAA, while South Carolina ranks No. 3 in the country (48.3 ppg).
Something has to give Thursday night inside Bud Walton Arena, as Arkansas and South Carolina are scheduled to tip off at 7 p.m.
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 Little Rock on KREB-FM 103.7.
The first 250 fans through the doors for Thursday night’s game will receive a FREE hot dog with purchase of a small drink.
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.
For more information on Arkansas women’s basketball, follow @RazorbackWBB on Twitter.