Golden Flashes have Razorbacks on upset alert

By: Ethan Westerman
Published: Thursday, November 17, 2022
Arkansas coach Mike Neighbors is shown during a game against Tulsa on Monday, Nov. 14, 2022, in Fayetteville.
( J.T. Wampler)
Arkansas coach Mike Neighbors is shown during a game against Tulsa on Monday, Nov. 14, 2022, in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE — The University of Arkansas women’s basketball team will look for its first 4-0 start since 2019 when it hosts Kent State at Walton Arena at 7 tonight.

Kent State (1-1) lost in its season opener against Florida State 80-71, but gave the Seminoles a scare. Coach Todd Starkey’s team led by 11 points late in the third quarter of that game. In its latest outing, Kent State defeated Northern Kentucky handily.

Arkansas Coach Mike Neighbors, who is friends with Starkey, said his team is expecting a challenge.

“As a coach, when you start talking to people and they start wanting to play you, you know there’s a reason,” Neighbors said. “He wants to play this game, because he knows that they’ve got a team that can come in here and beat us.”

For a second straight game, the Razorbacks are facing a team which made the Women’s National Invitational Tournament last season. The Golden Flashes made it past the first round of the tournament before falling to Toledo.

“They’re really good,” Neighbors said. “They’re veterans and they play a style that’s going to give us fits. He knows it’s going to help us both get better, but people don’t call you if they don’t think they can win. It’ll be a tough game for 40 minutes plus.”

Kent State is led by Katie Shumate and Lindsey Thall, a duo of players who have been All-Mid-American Conference selections in the past. Through two games, Shumate leads the team with 15.5 points and six rebounds per contest. She was the team’s leading scorer last season, averaging 12.1 points per game.

Neighbors said he and his staff intentionally schedule nonconference games against solid opponents from smaller conferences.

“We can put together a schedule, we can be 15-0 and everybody feel really good,” he said. “We’d probably be ranked, and we’d feel like imposters because it wouldn’t be real. I’m not interested in us feeling good. I’m interested in us being good. So you’ve got to put your team in these situations to learn.”

Arkansas is one of three power five teams on the Golden Flashes’ schedule this month. Aside from Florida State and the Hogs, Kent State also plays Oklahoma State on Nov. 20.

“We’ll have our work cut out for us in the month of November,” Starkey said prior to the Golden Flashes’ season beginning.

The Razorbacks are fresh off a quality win over Tulsa on Monday.

Erynn Barnum posted a career-high 27 points to go along with eight rebounds against Tulsa. Through three games, the senior forward from Little Rock is averaging a near double-double with 20.3 points and 9.3 boards.

With a victory, Neighbors would notch his 100th win at Arkansas. It would also mark just the second time in six seasons at the helm to have a 4-0 start. The 2019-20 team began its campaign 5-0.


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