UF women's hoops ready for SEC home opener
Published: Saturday, January 1, 2011 at 5:47 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 1, 2011 at 5:47 p.m.
If only the Florida women's basketball team could play all of its games at home, its winning streak might generate some true momentum.
At a glance
Who: No. 22 Arkansas (12-0) at Florida (10-4)
When: Sunday, 1 p.m.
Regional TV: Sun Sports
Gainesville radio: 99.5-FM
UF remains unbeaten in seven games inside the O'Connell Center, but has lost four of seven away from Gainesville. The team's latest loss came in heart-breaking fashion — a last-second 74-72 defeat at No. 25 Florida State.
Coach Amanda Butler hopes the punches her young team withstood in Tallahassee on Tuesday will help it when SEC play opens against No. 22 Arkansas at home today at 1 p.m.
"The Florida State game was great preparation for us," Butler said. "They are a very physical team with great guard play and strength and presence in the paint. That’s the kind of team we’re going to see for the rest of the season. There won’t be a team we’ll play in the SEC that doesn’t have great guards and posts that can mix it up on the low block."
The home-and-away differential has been staggering so far for the Gators. UF is outscoring opponents 74-56 at home while managing just a 62-60 advantage on the road. But the team has yet to face an opponent at home as formidable as 12-0 Arkansas.
"The biggest thing is that (the Razorbacks) are feeling great about themselves," Butler said. "They’ve gone out and had an undefeated non-conference season and you can never underestimate the power of that."
The Gators have been led by junior Jordan Jones, who poured in a team-high 14 points against the Seminoles. Freshman Brittany Shine, who was named the MVP of last month's Gator Holiday Classic, has been a force off the bench while averaging 15 points per contest over her last five games.
Arkansas boasts three double-digit scorers with guards Lyndsay Harris (13.3 points per game) and C'eira Ricketts (12.8) and 6-foot-3 center Sarah Watkins (12.4). Forward Ashley Daniels is close behind, averaging 9.3 points and a team-best 7.4 rebounds.
Arkansas is fresh off a recent 67-57 win over then-No. 12 Oklahoma. The win earned the Razorbacks their first national ranking since the 2007-08 season. One stat the bodes well for UF is the Hogs' 1-18 all-time record in SEC road openers. The lone win came in 2005, well before the team took on a new look with coach Tom Collen.
"They are very versatile, more so than anyone else in our league right now," Butler said. "They have the feeling that they aren’t going to lose a game this year. You have to come out and take that feeling away early against a team that feels great about the way they are playing."