Photo Courtesy: UA Athletics (Logan J. Webster)
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (Univ. of Ark.) - The University of Arkansas women's basketball team returns to the court on Thursday to face LSU in a 7 p.m. tip at Bud Walton Arena. The Razorbacks are 12-3 and are looking to bounce back after taking losses in their first two SEC games.
The third game of SEC play pits the Razorbacks against a regional rival. Arkansas and LSU have had a number of recent battles, including last season when the Tigers eliminated Arkansas from the SEC Tournament in a one point game.
"We've played them a lot," Arkansas head coach Tom Collen said.
"We've won three of the last five games, and we've had really close games. We played them three times last year, so we know each other well. It's an intense rivalry because the games last year were so competitive. It's going to be a tough early season matchup for both of us."
After opening SEC play with tough losses at Auburn and against No. 24 Texas A&M, the Razorbacks are eager to get their first league win against the Tigers. UA will be playing its third game in seven days and are looking to respond against LSU.
"In this part of the season, we have to be ready for quick turnarounds," Calli Berna said. "We have to put the Texas A&M game behind us, learn from it, and get ready for LSU. We're ready to get that first win in the SEC, so we're going to work hard to get that win."
The Tigers enter the game at 10-5, and are just 1-4 on the road. LSU has won six of their past eight games and are 1-1 in SEC play. The Razorbacks will need to focus on stopping Theresa Plaisance, who is the SEC leader in scoring with 18.1 points per game. Arkansas has been strong defensively all season, coming into the game second in the SEC in field goal defense, holding opponents to .344 from the floor.
The key for Arkansas will be shooting the ball well against the Tigers zone defense. Arkansas has been led by senior Sarah Watkins, who is averaging 16.67 points in the last three UA games, including scoring 15 of her 19 points against Texas A&M in the second half. Watkins has had 11 games in double figure scoring this year, and leads the team with 13.5 points per game. Watkins has given the team a lift from the free throw line, leading the SEC by shooting 89.1% from the charity stripe.
Additionally, Berna has done a good job of running the Razorbacks offense. Berna is seventh in the country with a 2.7 assist-turnover ratio and is third in the SEC with 5.9 assists per game.
"This is a game we have to get," Collen said. "We really need to win to stay in the hunt so that our players continue to believe in themselves. It's going to be important for us to step in and make shots."
The University of Arkansas Ticket Center is offering half price tickets for this week's Southeastern Conference women's basketball game with LSU.
The Razorbacks (12-3, 0-2 SEC) tip with the Tigers (10-5, 1-1 SEC) at 7 p.m. in Bud Walton Arena.
Fans can purchase adult reserved seats for just $5 and reserved youth seats are $2.50. General admission tickets are $3 and groups of 10 or more can purchase tickets in advance for just $1 for Thursday's game.
All tickets except group tickets can be purchased at the ticket window beginning at 6 p.m. Thursday, on-line and at the Razorback Ticket Center.