Photo Courtesy: UA Athletics (Logan J. Webster)
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (Univ. of Ark.) - The University of Arkansas women's basketball team is back at Bud Walton Arena on Sunday, as they host the No. 14/18 South Carolina Gamecocks. The Razorbacks are 14-5, 2-4 in the SEC, and are coming off a road win against Missouri on Thursday.
Arkansas got their first SEC road win in Columbia, Mo., defeating the Tigers 58-50. The team was led by an outstanding performance by redshirt senior Erin Gatling. She was hot from long distance, hitting a career high six three pointers, and scored a career high 23 points.
"It was a great win for us," Arkansas head coach Tom Collen said. "We needed it to get back on track. Missouri was a hard team to guard. We knew we would have to make shots, and Erin Gatling stepped up in a big way. We needed every bit of it for us to get out of there with a win. We feel good about it and it will make it easier to practice for Sunday's game."
The Razorbacks are just 1-3 versus ranked teams this season, but have battled in all four games. The win came at the Bud Walton Arena, when Arkansas had four players in double figures in a 64-56 over then No. 17 Kansas. The Gamecocks are the fourth ranked opponent to come to Fayetteville this season, and the third during SEC play.
Arkansas' defense has been stout this season, and it was a big factor in the win over Missouri. UA held down the nation's leading three point shooting team, and they are second in the SEC in field goal percentage defense, holding opponents to a 35.6 percentage from the field.
The matchup will feature two strong defensive teams, as South Carolina enters as the top defensive team in the SEC, holding opponents to 34.2 percent from the floor and 47.7 points per game. The Gamecocks also lead the SEC with just 32.0 rebounds allowed per game and a rebounding margin of +11.0. Arkansas is a more potent offense than the Gamecocks, averaging 69.8 points per game compared to just 60.9 for South Carolina.
"South Carolina is a very good team," sophomore Calli Berna said. "They've gotten some good wins already this year. They're very athletic and very competitive. We have to really focus on getting on the boards against them."
South Carolina is 17-3 this season, and 5-2 in SEC play. They are led by the duo of Aleighsa Welch (12.4 points per game and 8.4 rebounds) and Tiffany Mitchell (10.2 points per game).
The Razorbacks are looking to continue their success in the all-time series against the Gamecocks. UA leads the all-time series 17-9, and holds a 10-2 record in Fayetteville.
"South Carolina is the best defensive team in the country," Collen explained. "The dilemma is how to score against them. There are not a lot of secrets between us. They're coming off a big win against Kentucky, so they're pretty high right now. They certainly deserve their national ranking. They're a good basketball team, so it's going to be a battle."