FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas women's Coach Mike Neighbors might not click his heels three times on the Walton Arena floor, but he's sure happy to be back home.
The Razorbacks (11-10, 2-6 SEC) have struggled through a brutal stretch of road games in losing six of their last seven. Four of those games were against teams currently ranked in The Associated Press top 25 with an average margin of defeat of more than 34 points.
Kentucky women at Arkansas
WHEN 6 p.m.
WHERE Walton Arena, Fayetteville
RECORD Kentucky 10-11, 2-5 SEC; Arkansas 11-10, 2-6
SERIES Kentucky leads 21-13
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
PROBABLE STARTING LINEUPS
COACH Matthew Mitchell (251-111 in his 11th season at Kentucky)
COACH Mike Neighbors (11-10 first year at Arkansas; 109-51 overall)
35.4;3-pt FG pct.;28.5
CHALK TALK The Wildcats put four in double figures led by Taylor Murray’s 20 points to blow out Alabama, 79-54, in their last game4. … Kentucky shot 64.7 percent from the floor and outscored the Crimson Tide 25-5 in the fourth quarter. … Junior Maci Morris leads Kentucky in scoring, averaging 15.7 points per game overall and a team-best 14.8 in Southeastern Conference play. … Junior point guard Malica Monk leads Arkansas in scoring, averaging 16.2 points per game for the season and 14.6 in SEC play. … Kentucky is having trouble keeping up on the boards, being outrebounded by an average of eight per game in SEC play.
Arkansas now gets five of its next eight games at home beginning tonight against Kentucky (10-11, 2-5).
Neighbors is not only pleased to be back home, but he's looking forward to matching up a team that's similar to the Razorbacks in several ways.
"With Kentucky, similar size, similar style of play," Neighbors said. "You look at it on stats, it's one of those good tale of the tape games. It's a team that's got a lot of recent history. They've been to the NCAA tournament an awful lot and some Sweet 16s, so they'll have that advantage on us.
"I do think we can match up with them spot for spot, speed for speed. Let's go out and see who can play the best."
Matching up was a problem for the Razorbacks in their last game at No. 9 South Carolina. The Gamecocks dominated Arkansas on the scoreboard (90-42) and rebounding (62-31).
Kentucky has struggled, too, but will come in with some momentum, thanks to a 79-54 victory over Alabama. The Wildcats, who had lost 10 of 11 before Alabama, outscored the Crimson Tide 25-5 in the fourth quarter. They also shot a blistering 64.7 percent from the floor.
Guard Devin Cosper returned to play 24 minutes against South Carolina, after missing the last two games with an ankle injury. Neighbors said she likely would have played more minutes, if not for the big deficit.
"She's a little bit sore," Neighbors said. "Day to day means they can fluctuate up and down. Day to day doesn't mean they're getting better every day. Her competitive spirit was back though."
The 5-foot-10 senior ranks second on the team, averaging 14.6 points per game. But her contributions extend far beyond tangible contributions like points and rebounds.
"Talking on screens, calling out actions. We really missed that [against South Carolina]," Neighbors said. "It was noticeable in the last two games when we played without her and even in practice. She's a voice. She's one that when times get tough kids look to them and when that kid's not there it's hard."
Sports on 01/29/2018
Print Headline: UA, Neighbors welcome home