FAYETTEVILLE — The University of Arkansas women’s basketball team is excited about the opportunity to play at No. 5 Tennessee Thursday.
The Razorbacks (9-12, 1-7 SEC) also have the added bonus of being on television against Tennessee (19-2, 7-1 SEC) this week with FSN airing the game. It is set for a 6 p.m. central tip with Dave Neal and Debbie Antonelli scheduled to call the action.
“We got better against Vanderbilt (last Sunday),” said senior guard Charity Ford. “I feel like we can play with anyone in the league. We’re confident and we know our hard work is going to pay off. It doesn’t matter whose name is on the other jersey, we’re going in ready to play.”
Arkansas head coach Tom Collen is equally as confident but also realizes the tough challenge that lies ahead.
“Tennessee is a tough place to play,” Collen said. “It’s a challenge for everyone who goes in there but we have to view this as an opportunity and go in and see what we can do.
“We were a better basketball team at the end of the Vanderbilt game,” Collen continued. “This team continues to improve. I really believe we are capable of playing with the majority of teams in the SEC — we just don’t have the wins to show for it.”
If anything can be said about Arkansas it has to be about the steady play of the team’s leaders. Sophomore Lyndsay Harris has paced the team in scoring average for much of the season and enters the Tennessee game leading the team with 12.6 ppg. Ford is second at 11.9 ppg and sophomore C’eira Ricketts is next with 10.1 ppg.
Sophomore Ashley Daniels is a leader on the boards with 7.0 rpg.
But Tennessee is certainly a tall order — literally. The Lady Vols start four of five players who reach above the six-foot mark including 6-6 Kelley Cain in the paint.
“Tennessee is big and strong,” Collen said. “If they have a bad shooting night, they go grab 25 offensive rebounds and beat you anyway. They are aggressive and very deep. They don’t care about foul trouble and with that kind of depth, they are hard to stop. We’re not going in there with fear but we’re looking at this game as an opportunity and we want to make the most of it.”
The Razorbacks are trying to make the most of a lot of opportunities still remaining this year. Arkansas returns home hosting #25 Kentucky Sunday at 2 p.m. in Bud Walton Arena before an extended road trip to Auburn Feb. 11 and at South Carolina Feb. 14.