Arkansas women have quick turnaround after opening loss

Arkansas guard Taliah Scott (0) drives toward the basket during a game against Incarnate Word on Sunday, Dec. 31, 2023, in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE — The Arkansas women's basketball team will look to get into the SEC win column Sunday after opening league play with a 10-point road loss to Kentucky on Thursday.

The Razorbacks (12-4, 0-1 SEC) host Georgia (10-4, 1-0) in Bud Walton Arena with the tipoff scheduled for 1 p.m.

Arkansas scored just 14 first-half points in the 73-63 loss to Kentucky, and continued a trend of losing conference-opening games. It was the sixth consecutive season for the Razorbacks to drop the league opener.

In order to even their conference slate, the Razorbacks will have to do what they have rarely done — beat Georgia. Arkansas coach Mike Neighbors is 1-7 against the Bulldogs and Georgia owns a 38-6 series advantage.

“That's the hard thing about this league,” Neighbors said after the Kentucky loss. “You expend all this energy tonight, then you have a quick turnaround and guess who we get on Sunday...[Georgia] is one of the more physical teams in the country. But we've got to flush this one.”

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A look inside the numbers proves Neighbors right. Georgia is only surrendering 60.2 points per game and shut down a good offensive team in Texas A&M.

Arkansas continues to look for ways to overcome the loss of several players who were expected to be major contributors to this year's team. Jersey Wolfenbarger, a 6-5 player, left the team just days before the start of the season, and Sasha Goforth, who missed last season because of illness, again had to step away from the team. Goforth's loss was significant because of the experience she provided at both ends of the floor.

Georgia is led by double-double machine Javyn Nicholson. The 6-2 senior has 9 double-doubles and is coming off a 20-point, 10-rebound night against the Aggies.

Arkansas will counter with freshman sensation Taliah Scott, who ranks among the top scorers in the SEC at 22 points per game. Scott has been named the SEC Freshman of the Week five times. 

Kentucky was able to hold Scott in check offensively, limiting the Florida star to half of her average with 11 points.

“I thought they had multiple bodies around her,” Neighbors said when asked what Kentucky did defensively to hold her below her scoring average. “They really forced her to play with a lack of space. She is so good when you get her into space. And some of the things that we've been able to do early in the season to get her into space, Kentucky took away from us.”

Arkansas was particularly dismal from the three-point line, shooting just 4 of 27 against Kentucky. 

The Razorbacks trailed 26-14 at halftime, but rallied in the third quarter to trail 44-43 after three quarters. The Wildcats dominated the final quarter to pull away.