Road-weary Hogs will face tough test

Posted: January 25, 2018 at 1 a.m.

Arkansas' Malica Monk shoots over South Carolina's Mikiah Herbert Harrigan during a game Sunday, Feb. 5, 2017, in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- There's no rest for the road-weary Arkansas women's basketball team.

Arkansas (11-9, 2-5 SEC) has spent more time on the road than a touring rock band lately, and the Razorbacks will continue that trend tonight as they travel to South Carolina to take on the defending national champion Gamecocks. Tip-off is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on the SEC Network.

Arkansas at No. 9 South Carolina

WHEN 5:30 p.m.

WHERE Colonial Life Arena, Columbia, S.C.

RECORDS Arkansas 11-9, 2-5 SEC; South Carolina 16-6, 5-2

SERIES Arkansas leads 17-16

RADIO KABZ-FM 103.7 in Little Rock; KQSM-FM 92.1 in Fayetteville; KFPW-AM 1230 and KFPW-FM 94.5 in Fort Smith; KURM-AM 790 and KURM-FM 100.3 in Rogers.

ONLINE ArkansasRazorbacks.com

TELEVISION SEC Network

PROBABLE STARTING LINEUPS

ARKANSAS*

POS^NAME^HT.^YR.^PPG^RPG

G^Malica Monk^5-5^Jr.^16.5^3.9

F^Kiara Williams^6-1^So.^8.2^7.6

G^Jailyn Mason^5-9^So.^10.5^4.2

F^Bailey Zimmerman^6-0^Jr.^3.3^3.2

F^Taylah Thomas^6-1^Fr.^3.8^4.9

COACH Mike Neighbors (11-9 in first season at Arkansas; 109-49 overall)

SOUTH CAROLINA

POS^NAME^HT.^YR.^PPG^RPG

G^Doniyah Cliney^6-0^Jr.^7.9^3.6

G^Lindsey Spann^5-6^Sr./^11.4^1.4

F^A’ja Wilson^6-2^Sr.^23.2^10.9

F^Alexis Jennings^6-2^Jr.^11.8^7.1

G^Tyasha Harris^5-10^So.^10.5^2.8

COACH Dawn Staley (237-83 in 10th season at South Carolina; 409-163 overall)

TEAM COMPARISON

Arkansas^S. Carolina

68.7^Points Scored Per Game^82.1

69.9^Points Allowed Per Game^61.4

41.1^Rebounds Per Game^39.7

12.2^Turnovers Per Game^12.7

36.9^FG pct.^40.6

.28.9^3-pt FG pct.^34.6

67.4^FT pct.^67.1

CHALK TALK Arkansas’ graduate senior guard and leading scorer Devin Cosper missed her second game with an ankle injury against Missouri in an 88-54 loss on Sunday. Her status is still day-to-day. … This marks Arkansas fifth road game in the past six. The Razorbacks are 1-3 in that stretch. … South Carolina is the defending national champion, and the third top 11 team the Razorbacks have faced in the past three weeks. … A’ja Wilson is one of the top players in the country for the Gamecocks. She is averaging 23.4 points and 10.9 rebounds per game. … South Carolina has won the last five meetings between the teams. … The Gamecocks have four players averaging double figures in points per game.

— Chip Souza

Arkansas coach Mike Neighbors said his team is eager to end this road swing, which is understandable because the Razorbacks are currently 1-3 on this stretch. The Razorbacks have lost five of their last six games and are likely facing the best team of the group today. Arkansas finally ends this brutal stretch with a home game next Monday against Kentucky in Walton Arena.

"A lot of coaches say they don't look ahead, but we do. I do," Neighbors said. "I'm really looking forward to Monday night. It's our Monday night game, so a little bit of departure from our normal Sunday game."

Before Arkansas can look ahead to Kentucky, it first must deal with No. 5 South Carolina, which has beaten Arkansas in five straight meetings.

Arkansas is hopeful to have second-leading scorer Devin Cosper for tonight's game. Cosper has missed the past two games with an ankle injury, and Neighbors said it's still day-to-day on when she may return. Cosper did practice Tuesday.

"When you say day-to-day, a lot of people think it means she's getting better," Neighbors said. "That's not always the case. It feels good one day, and they work out. And then it doesn't feel as good the next day. So she really, truly is hour-to-hour now."

In addition to her 15.3 points per game, Neighbors said his team has missed Cosper's play on the defensive side. Against South Carolina (16-3, 5-2), the Razorbacks need all the defense they can muster. The Gamecocks have four players scoring in double figures, led by one of the country's best players in A'ja Wilson. Wilson is scoring 23.4 points per game and 10.9 rebounds.

"We are going to have to focus on making A'ja crowded," Neighbors said. "A'ja is one of those players who continues to improve. She's stepping out and hitting threes now. That's just not fair for a kid that good around the goal to now being able to be somebody you have to guard at the arc, too."

Neighbors admitted that the injury to Cosper has meant a lot more minutes for some players, specifically guard Malica Monk. Neighbors, a coach who wants to play up-tempo, said his team likely will try to slow the game down to let his players catch a little break.

"Mal has been such a gladiator for us," Neighbors said. "With Dev out, some of the things we're asking her to do are just not humanly possible. So we may walk the ball up the floor."

Sports on 01/25/2018