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Preview: Florida Women’s Basketball Hosts Arkansas

After suffering another close loss this season, this time to Ole Miss 84-75 at home on Monday night, the Florida Women’s Basketball team will look to bounce back when they host the equally struggling Arkansas Razorbacks.

Florida

The Gators enter the game 11-12 and with a 2-8 SEC record. They’ve lost their past two games, and enter the contest with the second worst conference record in the SEC, just one game above Vanderbilt.

Florida will need to start building momentum soon for the SEC Tournament in March. Only six SEC games separate the Gators from that tournament. Unless they start on a win streak, they’ll be one of the bottom seeds, leading to have to play top teams like South Carolina or Mississippi State, should the Gators advance.

As Florida looks to make up ground in the conference standings, starting with the game against Arkansa, a lot of the pressure will fall on senior Ronni Williams and Florida’s defense.

Williams is in the midst of an impressive senior season, leading the league in scoring with 19 points per game, including 21 against Ole Miss. Williams also leads the team in rebounding with almost eight per game and is second on the team in assists.

The turnaround can’t just depend on Williams on the offensive side. Others have been helping with the load of scoring the basketball, but Florida will need to fix it’s defense.

Haley Lorenzen pitched in another efficient performance against Ole Miss, scoring 14 points on 6-of-10 shooting from the field. Brooke Copeland has come back from a concussion, and Sydney Morang has hit eight threes over the past two games. That’s not to mention to contributions of Delicia Washington and Dyandria Anderson who have been doing some of everything for Florida, as well Tyshara Fleming on the boards.

They need to come together on the defensive side though, with head coach Amanda Butler admitting as much after the Ole Miss game. She was disappointed with the way her team closed out on open shooters and it showed in the box score. The Gators gave up 10 three-pointers in a game where almost all of the other stats were even, so it ended up being the difference.

Florida enters the game with the second most points per game allowed in the SEC. Butler said her team would practicing a lot on closing out in the lead up to this game. If the Gators can get it together on the defensive end, they’ll be in much better shape for this game.

Arkansas

The Razorbacks come in on a four game losing streak. They sit at 13-10 overall, but also at 2-8 in SEC play, tied with the Gators for second worst in the conference. They’re last game was a 30-point blowout loss at home to South Carolina.

There’s no doubt Arkansas is led by senior forward Jessica Jackson. She’s 15th in the SEC in terms of scoring, putting up 14.6 points per game. In addition, she leads the team in rebounding with 6.2 boards per game, while chipping in with about an assist per game.

Much Florida with Williams, Arkansas goes as Jackson goes. She has five games with over 20 points, and has an in-season streak of 15 games scoring in double figures.

Their second leading scorer, Malica Monk, is also their leading assist-getter. She’s averaging just over nine points per game while dishing 3.3 dimes per game.

Apart from these two players, Arkansas really hangs it’s hat on it’s defense.They rank fifth in the SEC, just behind Florida, in rebounds per game, grabbing 35.1 boards each contest. They also rank in the top five in blocks per game. This is huge considering Florida is a team that likes to get most of its points from inside the paint.

Tip Off

Tip off is set for 7 p.m. at Exactech Arena.

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