FAYETTEVILLE -- The mood in the Arkansas locker room had a different vibe this week. Winning does a lot to change morale.
It's no secret the Razorbacks have struggled in SEC play, the toughest women's basketball conference in the country. Arkansas had lost four straight games and seven of its last eight until Sunday's 74-66 road win at Alabama.
No. 11 Tennessee at Arkansas
WHEN 7 p.m.
WHERE Bud Walton Arena, Fayetteville
RECORDS Tennessee 19-4, 7-3; Arkansas 12-11, 3-7
SERIES Tennessee leads 30-3
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.
TELEVISION SEC Network Plus
PROBABLE STARTING LINEUPS
COACH Mike Neighbors (12-11 in first season, 110-50 overall)
COACH Holly Warlick (145-50 in sixth year at Tennessee)
80.6^Points Scored Per Game^67.6
65.0^Points Allowed Per Game^70.9
45.0^Rebounds Per Game^40.0
16.6^Turnovers Per Game^12.5
31.2^3-pt FG pct.^28.9
CHALK TALK Arkansas comes into the game off a 74-66 road win on Sunday at Alabama. Prior to that win, the Razorbacks had lost four straight and seven of its last eight games. … Arkansas will play three of its next four games at home, where it is 8-3 this season. … Arkansas has beaten Tennessee just 3 times in 33 games, the last in 2016. … Tennessee is in a logjam with four teams tied for third in the SEC. … The Lady Vols are on a two-game win streak with wins over Vanderbilt and Texas A&M. … After missing two games with an ankle injury, Arkansas graduate senior Devin Cosper is finally 10o percent healthy. She has scored 17 and 21 points respectively in her last two games.
— Chip Souza • @NWAChip
Despite the struggles, first-year coach Mike Neighbors said his team has continued to hold on to the rope and proudly points to a statistic that few teams in the country can match as proof. Arkansas has had just four players this season miss a practice day out of more than 1,300 practices.
"This group has been resilient," Neighbors said. "They keep showing up. Today we had a player miss for strep throat and that's just the fourth missed practice all year. All year. That's unheard of. On past teams, and we've had some good ones with great players that would find a way into the training room, or find a way to get a day off when it wasn't an off day.
"So just extremely proud of that and how this team has worked."
Arkansas (12-11, 3-7 SEC) will have its hands full again tonight as it hosts No. 11 Tennessee (19-4, 7-3) at 7 p.m. in Bud Walton Arena. Arkansas has beaten the Lady Vols just three times in 33 games.
A big factor in Arkansas' win at Alabama was senior Devin Cosper, who missed two games and played just sparingly in several others with an ankle injury. Neighbors said Cosper is back to 100 percent, and her 21 points against Alabama backed that up.
Tennessee coach Holly Warlick is not taking the Razorbacks lightly, noting the team's fight despite its struggles in conference play.
"They beat Alabama in Alabama," Warlick said in her pre-game news conference this week. "They've been in a lot of games that people didn't think they should have been in, but the team is willing to learn, and I think they're accepting his (Neighbors') philosophy, and they play hard."
Neighbors said his team is healthy other than the normal bumps and bruises that come with playing its 24th game of the season.
"Bailey Zimmerman looks like a walking medical chart, but she has not missed one second of one drill in practice," Neighbors said.
Tennessee has three players scoring in double figures, led by 6-foot-6 senior Mercedes Russell, who is averaging 16.6 points and 8.4 rebounds. Senior guard Jaime Nared is also averaging 16.6 points per game.
"They can win games a lot of different ways," Neighbors said. "They have incredible size around the basket, so it makes it hard to defend them. Mercedes is going to be 6-6 every morning when she wakes up and that's not going to change."
Arkansas plays four of its next five games at home and will host No. 15 Missouri on Sunday.
Sports on 02/08/2018
Print Headline: Arkansas healthy for home stretch