Playing in its final nonconference tuneup of the 2008-09 season, Arkansas opens the new year with anything but another throwaway matchup. Instead, the Razorbacks visit Texas Tech of the Big 12 at 2 p.m. today in a contest which should provide a good lead-in to conference competition.
"I think we need this game," Arkansas coach Tom Collen said. "Because I don't want to make the transition from playing Stetson to playing LSU in a game we really feel like we want and need to win to start conference play. I think we've got to have something in between there that takes us to that next level. And win or lose, I think it's a matter of if you lose can you take it for it's a bridge to the SEC and now you can build off of that.
"This is a good game for us, a good test win or lose. And certainly it's an opportunity to gain momentum going into the SEC if we can go in there and pull off the upset."
Coming off an easy, 85-44 blowout against Stetson on Wednesday, the Razorbacks (11-3) now face a Lady Raiders team which will look much more like the SEC opponents that await in the near future. And for Arkansas, getting a road test in the Big 12 might be the perfect medicine to gauge how well it's prepared for the SEC.
"We've had some easy games, we've had some challenging games and we've lost some games we should have won," senior Whitney Jones said. "But I think this Texas Tech game will be a good game to see how we're going to go into the LSU game, our first conference game."
Almost exactly one year ago, Arkansas blasted Texas Tech (8-4) in a game in Bud Walton Arena between two Top 25 teams at the time. The Razorbacks handled the Lady Raiders from near start to finish in that contest, winning 80-57. But this time around, Arkansas is clearly more inexperienced — and less healthy with Charity Ford out with an acute stress fracture in her left leg — while Texas Tech returns four starters from a squad which eventually finished the season 17-16.
"This year I think it's somewhat similar situations," Collen said. "We're not 15-0 and ranked in the Top 25, but we're off to a solid start. They're off to a solid start and coming off a big win against UCLA and they return their best players. So I think they're going to look at it like this is payback and they're going to do everything they can to put us back into our place."
ARKANSAS AT TEXAS TECH
WHEN: 2 p.m., today
WHERE: United Spirit Arena, Lubbock, Texas
RADIO: Razorback Sports Network; KURM-AM 790, KAYH-FM 89.3, KXUA-FM 88.3, KABZ-FM 103.7
TV: Cox Sports (Ch. 119)
COACHES: Arkansas, Tom Collen (second season); Texas Tech, Kristy Curry (third season)
Pos. Player Ht. Class PPG
P Whitney Jones 6-0 SR 10.6 ppg
G Ayana Brereton 5-10 SR 10.7 ppg
G Lyndsay Harris 5-9 FR 10.9 ppg
G Ceira Ricketts 5-9 FR 13.7 ppg
G Shanita Arnold 5-4 SO 7.7 ppg
Texas Tech (8-4)
Pos. Player Ht. Class PPG
F Ashlee Roberson 5-11 JR 6.7 ppg
F Dominic Seals 6-2 SR 13.3 ppg
C Kierra Mallard 6-3 FR 7.9 ppg
G Jordan Murphree 6-0 JR 10.5 ppg
G Maria Moore 5-5 SR 8.6 ppg