Quality counts for UA

Kentucky a shot to help resume

By: Tom Murphy
Published: Thursday, February 7, 2013
Arkansas sophomore guard Calli Berna, center, drives with the basketball as South Carolina senior guard Ieasia Walker, left, and freshman guard Tiffany Mitchell, right, defend during the second half Sunday, Jan. 27, 2013, in Bud Walton Arena.
Photo by Andy Shupe
Arkansas sophomore guard Calli Berna, center, drives with the basketball as South Carolina senior guard Ieasia Walker, left, and freshman guard Tiffany Mitchell, right, defend during the second half Sunday, Jan. 27, 2013, in Bud Walton Arena.

— Arkansas’ resume-building opportunities for a berth in the women’s NCAA Tournament have dwindled as its number of narrow losses has grown, making tonight’s game against No. 10 Kentucky of key importance.

“It’s pretty much win or go home for us,” Arkansas forward Quistelle Williams said. “We’ve got to start winning games or there isn’t going to be a tournament.”

The Razorbacks (15-7, 3-6 SEC) tip off against the Wildcats (19-3, 7-2) at 7 tonight at Walton Arena.

Arkansas blew a chance at a 2-0 road trip last week by losing 47-44 at Missis-Tom Collensippi State, the Razorbacks’ fourth three-point loss, which includes three in SEC play.

“I just want to make sure the team doesn’t feel like they’ve got their back to the wall, put too much pressure on themselves,” Arkansas Coach Tom Collen said.

Yet Collen said he also understands the impact a victory over Kentucky would have.

“I think it puts us right back in the forefront of people’s minds,” he said. “The last quality win we had was against Kansas, when they were ranked in the top 15. We’ve played everybody close, but we haven’t been able to get that elusive win against another top 25 team.”

Collen said Arkansas’ chances for high-impact victories are fleeting with Kentucky and Tennessee the last remaining opportunities.

Kentucky is tied with Georgia and South Carolina - the two SEC teams that have beaten the Wildcats - for third place in the conference, a game behind coleaders Tennessee and Texas A&M. Kentucky opened with six consecutive victories in SEC play, but the Wildcats have lost two of their past three games, including a 75-71 setback at home to Georgia on Saturday that broke their 34-game homecourt winning streak.

The Wildcats’ rely on a full-court pressure that creates much of their offense. The Razorbacks faced a similar style in their loss at Mississippi State.

“They get up in you, they get all over you,” Arkansas guard Calli Berna said. “At Mississippi State, that’s what they did. That got us a little prepared for Kentucky.”

Collen, who said the current Wildcats are arguably the best team in the program’s history, considered his team’s game in Starkville, Miss., as good preparation for Kentucky.

I think we know what to expect,” Collen said. “I just think it’s probably going to be Mississippi State times 10 at that end of the floor.”Arkansas women vs. KentuckyWHEN 7 p.m.

WHERE Walton Arena, Fayetteville RECORDS Kentucky 19-3, 7-2 SEC; Arkansas 15-7, 3-6 SEC SERIES Kentucky leads, 16-13.

INTERNET ESPN3 RADIO KQSM-FM 92.1 Fayetteville, KFPWAM 1230 Fort Smith, KURM-AM 790 Rogers;

KABZ-FM 103.7 Little Rock (will broadcast on tape delay).

Sports, Pages 19 on 02/07/2013

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