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Mar 4, 2016; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Florida Gators head coach Amanda Butler yells from the bench in the third quarter against Kentucky Wildcats during the women's SEC basketball tournament at Jacksonville Memorial Veterans Arena. Kentucky won 92-69. Mandatory Credit: Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports

Preview: Gator Women’s Basketball Opens SEC Tournament against Arkansas

The Gator women’s basketball team, fresh off of their 65-58 home win over Georgia on senior night this past weekend, will open up SEC Tournament action on Wednesday when they take on the Arkansas Razorbacks.

Previous Meeting

The Gators escaped with a close 57-53 victory earlier this month, with Ronni Williams, Haley Lorenzen, and Sydney Morang combining to score 41 of Florida’s 57 points. Williams led all Gator scorers with 15 points, while Lorenzen put up 14 and Morang scored 12 points off four three pointers.

Jessica Jackson had a game-high 17 points for the Razorbacks to go along with seven rebounds. Jailyn Mason chipped with 13 points, but the team overall struggled from the field, shooting just over 36 percent from the field.

Florida

The Gators finished the regular season with a 14-15 record and went 5-11 in SEC play. They enter the tournament as the No.11 seed. While the team struggled out of the gates starting 0-5 in the conference, they went 3-3 in their last six games.

Florida is coming off of one of their better defensive performances of the season in their win against Georgia, much to the pleasure of head coach Amanda Butler. She said throughout the season that the offense will be there, and if they locked down defensively, they could win some games.

And that’s what they did, buckling down and holding Georgia to just 30 percent shooting from the field in the second half. That includes limiting them to just 23 percent shooting in the fourth quarter, while the game was still in the balance and the Gators needed that kind of performance the most.

All season the Gators have been led by senior forward Ronni Williams, and they’ll lean on her as they enter postseason play. Williams is coming off a 31-point performance against Georgia, clinching her spot as the SEC’s leading scorer for the season after averaging 19.1 points per game. She is the first player in program history to accomplish that feat.

Depth

Williams will have support though, as the Gators are as deep as they have been since the start of conference play. Freshman guard Delicia Washington has emerged as one of the better freshman in the conference with a knack for scoring. Williams and Washington both earned SEC honors.

Fellow guard Dyandria Anderson finished second in the SEC in assists with 4.9 per game. In addition, Tyshara Fleming and Haley Lorenzen have provided a solid presence in the paint.

The Gators also have a solidified presence from the three-point line. Brooke Copeland now has several games back after returning from a concussion suffered in late January that kept her out for five game. Copeland had her best game on Sunday since returning, knocking down three treys and scoring 12 points, playing a big part in Florida’s win. Freshman guard/forward Sydney Morang got time in the starting lineup in Copeland’s absence, and made the most of it, shooting 10-for-21 from downtown in a three game stretch that included the win over Arkansas.

Arkansas

It’s safe to say the Razorbacks come into Greenville, South Carolina, host of the SEC Tournament, on a cold run. They’re on a 10-game losing streak, with their last win coming all the way back on Jan. 19 against Vanderbilt. They enter the tournament as the No.14 seed with a 2-14 conference record and 13-16 overall record.

The Razorbacks are led by forward Jessica Jackson. She ranks in the top 15 in the SEC in both scoring and rebounding, averaging 14.9 points per game and 6.5 rebounds per game.

Guards Malica Monk and Jailyn Mason run the offense. Monk averages over nine points per game and 3.1 assists per game, and Mason is right behind her, averaging 3.0 assists per game. Mason was just selected to the SEC All-Freshman team.

Tip-off is set for approximately 6:30 p.m.

About Jonathan Acosta

Native New Englander. Follow me on Twitter: @jonacosta_10

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