Razorbacks Travel To Face Florida In SEC Matchup - KOAM TV 7

Razorbacks Travel To Face Florida In SEC Matchup



The No. 25 University of Arkansas women's basketball team (14-1,1-1 SEC) hits the road and travels to face Florida (12-3, 2-0 SEC) in an SECroad matchup on Thursday in Gainesville, Fla.


The Razorbacks split their first week of SEC play, coming up justshort at home last Thursday against No. 10/11 South Carolina, but thenrebounding with a 69-66 road win at Missouri on Sunday.


Florida enters with a 2-0 record so far in SEC play, most recentlyearning a big road win of its own over No. 6 Kentucky.


Four players average double figures for Florida, led by JaterraBonds at 17.2 points per game. Bonds ranks fourth in the SEC, while JanuaryMiller (12.1 ppg), Christin Mercer (11.6 ppg) and Cassie Peoples (11.5 ppg) arealso averaging double digits for the Gators.


The Gators as a group have averaged more than 81 points per gameso far this season, proving to be a potent offense that should provide a greattest for Arkansas' NCAA-leading scoring defense (46.7 ppg).


Despite seven freshmen on its roster this season, including fivetrue freshmen, Arkansas has taken pride in its play on the defensive side ofthe ball so far this season.


"I've seen a lot of growth from our freshmen," headcoach Tom Collen said. "It's never enough growth as a coach and you wantthem to grow up rapidly, but years of experience tells me that it's not goingto happen overnight. It's going to happen with time and in bits and pieces.They'll have ups and downs. The most important thing to me is when they falldown and make mistakes that are costly, are they going to pout about it or lookyou in the eye and regain their composure to move on."


With sophomore Melissa Wolff expected to make her second careerstart against Florida, the Razorbacks will count on their young players toagain rise to the challenge. Wolff recorded 14 points and 12 rebounds for herfirst career double-double against Missouri.


It shouldn't take long for the Razorbacks to become familiar withthe opponent on Thursday night, as the Gators feature one of the shorterbenches in the conference. Florida has dressed nine players in just one gamethis season and eight in all other games.


The turnover margin and mental mistakes may play large rolesbetween Arkansas and Florida. The Gators look to force their opposition intomistakes and turnovers, while Arkansas has done a good job of not doing so thisseason. The Gators average 10.9 steals per game, but the Razorbacks have uphelda +8.1 assist/turnover ratio. Calli Berna maintains the offensive efficiencyfor Arkansas, leading the SEC and fourth in the NCAA with 118 assists. Bernaalso leads the conference and is second in the NCAA in assist/turnover ratio(+4.54).


Florida has held the upper hand between the two teams, as Arkansastrails 8-22 all-time. The Razorbacks have managed a 3-9 all-time record againstthe Gators in Gainesville, including a 69-58 loss last season. Coach Collen is2-8 all-time against Florida.


"They're hard to play against," Coach Collen said ofFlorida. "Sometimes in this league it's about matchups and they're a toughmatchup. Florida is a team that is super, super athletic. They put three pointguards on the floor and they're hard to turn over. At times you look out thereand they've got five guards on the floor, so they're very quick with thebasketball. They want to play at a very fast pace. We've got to do the thingswe do well."

Coach Collen and the Razorbacks ensure that they throw the recordsout when these two programs face one another, entering this week's meeting withconfidence and excitement.


"I think our team over the years has enjoyed playing to acrowd," Coach Collen said. "A lot of venues in the SEC have greatcrowds. That excites our team when we play in front of bigger crowds. There'ssomething that ratchets up your energy level and effort. You're not supposed towin, so you say, 'Let's beat these people.'"


Arkansas looks to do just that against Florida, with the twoscheduled to tip off 6 p.m. Thursday at the O'Connell Center in Gainesville,Fla.


The game will air in Northwest Arkansas on KOSM-FM 92.1; in Rogerson KURM-AM 790; in Fort Smith on KFPW-FM 94.5 and 1230 AM; and in Little Rockon KREB-FM 103.7.


For moreinformation on Arkansas women's basketball, follow @RazorbackWBB on Twitter.

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