Rested Arkansas hoops squad takes it shot at defending national champion LSU

By Dudley E. Dawson
on 2024-01-21 13:21 PM


Arguably the Razorbacks’ biggest women’s basketball challenge of the season will come this Sunday in Baton Rouge and are likely to still be without injured star freshman Taliah Scott.

Arkansas (14-5, 2-2) is  set to face defending national champion and No. 10 LSU (17-2, 4-1) Sunday at 4 p.m. inside  the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

The game will be televised on ESPN.

“I think you will see us play aggressively,” Razorback head coach Mike Neighbors said. “You have got to go at them. You can’t back away from them. They sense that and they feed off that.”

Both teams are coming off wins at Alabama with the Tigers having clipped the Tide 78-58 on Thursday night after the Razorbacks rallied to take a runaway 77-59 victory last Sunday in Tuscaloosa.

LSU head coach Kim Mulkey’s team raced away with a big third quarter in Tuscaloosa on Thursday.

“They’ve had some big third quarters,” Neighbors said. “I know Kim is a Hall of Famer for a reason. I am sure there was some challenging going on in the locker room. It looked like that when they responded. They turned the pressure up. They got out in transition and they stopped Alabama’s transition.”

LSU’s 15-game winning streak was snapped in their previous game, a 67-62 loss at Auburn.

“If you look at the formula for Auburn’s victory over them, I don’t think Auburn flinched,” Neighbors said. “They took it to them.”

Arkansas did not have a mid-week game after the win over Alabama, a contest  in which Razorback guard Samara Spencer had 31 points and 14 rebounds and Maryam Dauda – who originally signed with Mulkey at Baylor – set a school-record with 10 blocks.

“I was really glad they (the Tigers) had a game before ours too kind of get refocused on and not have some of that pent-up anxiousness about coming back out,” Neighbors said. “I hoped we only use our bye week effectively and go down and be the more energetic of the two teams.

Neighbors notes that Arkansas has to play as mistake free as possible.

“Its the whole coach speak of don’t beat yourself – uncharacteristic turnovers, uncharacteristic foul trouble, quick shots, getting caught up in all the things that are LSU,” Neighbors said. “Their student body sits right next to you and they are vocal and on you. They are informed. They are not across the line. They are one of the more respectful ones.”

LSU hammered Arkansas 69-45 in Fayetteville last season, but the Razorbacks pushed the Tigers to the buzzer in a 79-76 loss in Baton Rouge later in the season.

“I think the recent memories are good,” Neighbors said. “We hit a 3 that would have put us up five with under a minute to play, but it got called off by a moving screen. So we had  a really good opportunity to win down there. I think our kids will build off that.

“…I think there’s a certain amount of that we learned last year between our two games. We got kind of pummeled up here and we were passive. We went down there, we were aggressive and it was nearly a completely different outcome.

Arkansas will likely be without  freshman and SEC leading scorer Taliah Scott (22.2) for a fourth straight game due to a back injury.

“It’s still day-to-day and (she) has not practiced,” Neighbors said. “Return will be shortly, but we are not going to return her to practice and then expect her to play in a…day or two. We’ll get her back to practice first.

“It’s just like it’s been. We are really watching to see how she feels every single day when she wakes up. Some days it feels good, some days it doesn’t. I go into every morning hopeful, but end up disappointed in the middle of the day.

“I am just waiting for the thumbs up to go. She is eager to get back, but a back at that age you have to watch really carefully. She is not expected for Sunday.”

The game will feature two of the nation’s best three rebounders with Arkansas’ Saylor Poffenbager avergaing 12.8 boards per contest and LSU’s Angel Reese third at 11.8.

“You have to start with rebounding,” Neighbors said. “You can do all the defensive planning and prep and scouting and work, but at the end of the day, if you force a missed shot, they are going to get 60 percent of their own missed shots. So we have to be really committed there. 

“Obviously we have improved in that area as defensive rebounding has been a strength…Saylor just moved into the lead in the country for most defensive rebounds.”

(Last updated: 2024-01-21 13:21 PM)