FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Tom Collen and the University of Arkansas women’s basketball team face the University of Kentucky in the first of two consecutive Southeastern Conference road games Thursday.
The Razorbacks (8-10, 0-5 SEC) tip off with the Wildcats (14-3, 2-2 SEC) at 6 p.m. central. Arkansas then travels to Alabama for a Sunday afternoon contest as the season continues.
The road contests are not as daunting for Arkansas as fans might think. In fact, the Razorbacks have played pretty well on the road this year.
“It doesn’t get any easier with life on the road in the SEC,” Collen said, “but this team seems to play well away from home. We enjoy the crowd and the atmosphere and you always get that in SEC play.”
Arkansas enters the weekend in need of a win in conference play with just 11 regular season league games remaining.
Sophomore Lyndsay Harris leads the team with 12.2 ppg followed closely by senior Charity Ford’s 12.1 ppg and sophomore Ashley Daniels leads the Razorbacks with 6.9 rpg.
Kentucky picked up an 88-63 win over the Crimson Tide in their last outing. The Wildcats are led by Victoria Dunlap averaging 17.4 ppg and 8.8 rpg this year.
“Kentucky got a great start in the non-conference schedule and they are mentally strong,” Collen said. They are in the midst of a three-game home stand and they are highly motivated. We have to go in there mentally tough and play in control.”
Control is something the Razorbacks have talked a lot about in recent weeks. Arkansas has managed to limit its turnovers and has done a good job of holding SEC opponents in check in the first half of games.
But a tough non-conference schedule saw the Razorbacks beat up a bit and the confidence level of Collen’s young team is waning.
“We didn’t come into conference play with a lot of confidence and momentum,” he said. “Talent-wise we’re OK but we lack some confidence. This team continues to put forth good efforts in practice and the staff continues to push and ask them to reach higher.”
Kentucky has been solid this year. They average 79.4 ppg as a team and are in the middle of the league in most statistical categories.
“Kentucky plays the game very fast,” Collen said. “They pressure in the full court and try to turn you over. Kentucky is confident in what they do and we have to control the tempo of the game to be successful.”
Arkansas next travels to Alabama Sunday facing the Crimson Tide in a 2 p.m. game that is televised by FSN. The Razorbacks return home hosting Vanderbilt Jan. 31.