(By Robert Kingsley)
“Missouri is a very, very good team and it’s part of why the best players in the country choose to play in this league,” Butler said at Monday’s press conference. “You’re going to be tested every Sunday and every Thursday.”
Butler seemed even more elated for the opportunity to play at Arkansas this Thursday night. “We’re excited to get to work for the next two days and go to Bud Walton [Arena] and see what happens,” Butler said.
The Gators will certainly have their hands full as the Arkansas Razorbacks (9-11, 4-3) have won 4 of their last 6 with 3 of those wins coming against ranked opponents. Arkansas forward Jessica Jackson is averaging 17.3 points per game and 6.6 rebounds per game.
“They’ve got one of the best players in the league in Jessica Jackson,” said Butler.
The Gators, however, have two of the best players in the SEC in guard Eleanna Christinaki and forward Ronni Williams. Christinaki is averaging 10.5 points per game along with 3.7 assists per game. Williams is averaging 10.8 points per game and 7.6 rebounds per game.
Christinaki did not play a big role in the loss to Missouri scoring only 8 points and recording just 2 assists. The Gators tried to exploit matchups against the Tigers as Cassie Peoples started in place of Christinaki.
“It’s just not something we put a tremendous amount of energy into … because anybody on our team could be a starter,” Butler mentioned.
The Gators know they need to stay hot in their SEC schedule, as bigger games down the road loom large.
Butler noted how important it is for the Gators to get a win as they head into a big Sunday showdown against No. 9 Kentucky at home, “Hopefully we’ll handle our business on Thursday in a way that we’ll be carrying some momentum into that game.”
Key Matchup: Tyshara Fleming/Ronni Williams vs. Jessica Jackson
Gators forwards Tyshara Fleming and Ronni Williams have their work cut out for them in the paint against Arkansas star Jessica Jackson. If Fleming and Williams can take control early and win the rebound battle then the Gators should roll.
Where To Watch: The game will be televised on SEC Network Thursday (1/28) at 8:00 PM.