Bob Holt is a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Missouri, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and voter for the Heisman Trophy, Biletnikoff Award and AP Top 25 basketball poll. Holt was awarded Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year in 2000 and 2015.
‘Opportunity’ for UA women
NWA Media / ANDY SHUPE -- Arkansas sophomore guard Calli Berna, left, and Texas Southern sophomore guard Janelle McQueen vie for a rebound during the first half of play Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012, in Bud Walton Arena.
FAYETTEVILLE Arkansas’ women’s basketball team has a rare opportunity when No. 17 Kansas plays the Razorbacks at 7 tonight in Walton Arena.
Tonight’s game marks only the ninth time in 21 seasons a nationally-ranked nonconference team has played at Arkansas.
“When you play in a league like the SEC, you just can’t hammer yourself to death in the nonconference with a lot of top 25 teams,” Arkansas Coach Tom Collen said. “You’ve got to take your shot at two or three teams, and you’ve got to take advantage of the ones that you get.
“This is an opportunity for us. We’ve got them here, and we’ve got to take care of business and find a way to win the game.”
Arkansas (7-1) will be looking hand Kansas (7-0) its first loss this season and win an eighth consecutive home game against a ranked nonconference opponent since No. 24 Missouri State beat the Razorbacks 67-25 in Barnhill Arena on Dec. 30, 1992. Since then, Arkansas is 7-0 against visiting ranked nonconference teams in Walton Arena, including victories over Missouri State, Oklahoma (twice), Oklahoma State, Stephen F. Austin, PennState and Boston College.
Arkansas’ most recent home victory against a ranked nonconference team was two years ago when the Razorbacks beat No. 12 Oklahoma 67-57.
The No. 13 Sooners handed Arkansas its only loss this season, 73-70, at a tournament in Honolulu. Oklahoma jumped out to a 26-19 halftime lead.
Now the Razorbacks want to show they are ready to beat a ranked team.
“We know we’re capable of playing with that caliber of team,” Arkansas sophomore guard Calli Berna said. “It’s just whether we’re going to go out there and do it.
“I think we’re ready as a team to take down a [ranked] team, and that would be really good for our momentum going into the rest of the season.”
Collen said he hopes the Oklahoma game was a learning experience for the Razorbacks about playing with high intensity from the start.
“I think if we look back at that Oklahoma game, we wanted to play well but we weren’t ready from the opening tip,” Collen said. “We fought back, we played a good second half, but ultimately lost the game.
“We don’t want that to happen here. We don’t want to dig out of a hole on our home court.”
Sports, Pages 20 on 12/06/2012