Arkansas heads to Florida looking for fifth win in six Sunshine State hoops game this season
on 2024-02-08 17:03 PM
BY DUDLEY E. DAWSON
Although it might seem like it, the Razorback women’s basketball team has not played has not played as many game in Florida as it has in Arkansas this season.
But Arkansas (17-7, 5-4) will be playing its sixth game and looking for its fifth win in the Sunshine State this 2023-2024 campaign when it visits Florida (11-9, 2-6) Thursday at 5 p.m. CST.
It will do so coming off a 73-72 home win over Auburn on Sunday that may have meant more mentally than just one game in the standings.
“It’s a lot,” Neighbors said. “Above .500 is a rare place for us to be…I’ve been going through the record books to determine exactly how many days we have actually been above .500 during a calendar year. Through the first few years, it’s not been many.
“I think it is huge. Just looking up and seeing where you are at in that standing when you look it. And I know it is not the end of the year, but I do think there is a mental shot of adrenaline that you get.”
Being able to get two game above .500 would be even more pleasing, especially after the team has alternated SEC wins and losses for most of the season.
“I do think that we understand playing in the SEC,” Neighbors said. “We have (senior guard) Makayla Daniels telling all the kids that it’s a marathon, and you must treat it like it is. I don’t worry about them with that aspect.
“…They have learned to compartmentalize things well and take each game, literally coach speak, one game at a time, and that is what we need to survive in this league.”
Arkansas freshman guard and Florida native Taliah Scott had 33 points in the win over Auburn in her second game back after missing six games due to a back injury.
Neighbors sees Arkansas and Florida evenly matched squads in some aspects.
“There isn’t a tremendous size advantage one way or the other,” Neighbors said. “There isn’t a tremendous speed advantage, either. We both are very transition oriented, and we play through our guards and our big kids complement that very well.”
Florida is led by 5-7 senior guard Aliyah Matharu (18.4) and 6-0 senior guard Leilani Correa (17.7).
Correa can score in a variety of ways according to Neighbors.
“Size, speed, confidence and ability to score in multiple different ways,” Neighbors said. You can’t keep her from getting shots. She’s going to be able to create shots no matter what you decide to do.
“You just need to really affect the quality of shots that she takes. You can’t pinpoint one action of the floor or one motion they use to get her there. I think the most important thing is that she is playing loose and free.”
Neighbors compares her to former Arkansas star and WNBA player Chelsea Dungee.
“She reminded me of watching Dungee, just some of the ways that she gets to the foul line,” Neighbors said.”…You can think you are in good defensive position but still draws fouls, can shoot the three and can drive it.”
Photo by John D. James
(Last updated: 2024-02-08 17:03 PM)