BY DUDLEY E. DAWSON
Minutes after his team routed visiting Florida 102-74 Thursday night at Bud Walton Arena, Arkansas women’s basketball coach Mike Neighbors had an announcement to make.
He referenced fictional character Michael Scott of the television show The Office while doing so.
“I would like to announce that all games from here on out will be Whiteouts as well until further notice,” Neighbors said. “We’ll just wear white and keep everything the same. I am not superstitious, but I am a little stitious. Michael Scott. The Office.”
Arkansas scored a season-high 102 points while making 12 of 30 3-pointers in a game where the five starters all had over 15 points before a crowd of 4,524 fans decked out in white.
Samara Spencer, Makayla Daniels, Saylor Poffenbarger and Chrissy Carrall all had 16 points while Eyrnn Barnum added 15 and she and Poffenbarger eight rebounds each for the Razorbacks (15-3, 2-1).
Arkansas came up just shy of seven players in double figures as Jersey Wolfenbarger and Rylee Langerman both had 8 points apiece in reserve roles.
It was a far cry from the previous Thursday night at Bud Walton Arena when No. 9 LSU humbled Arkansas 69-45.
“We have kind of how this until we meet LSU again mantra,” Neighbors said of a team he’ll see in Baton Rouge on Jan. 19. “It’s a four-game stretch with the two we have now played and then we play Missouri (Sunday) and Vandy after the bye. To get to 2-0 in our little mini-schedule, I am really, really happy.”
Florid coach Kelly Rae Finley, whose Gators (12-4, 1-2) came in off a 55-48 win at Texas A&M, was impressed with the Razorbacks, off to their best SEC start since the 2010-2011 season.
“First of all, it was a great crowd tonight, Finley said. “I thought it was a really good atmosphere in the arena and that was fun to see and what you expect in our conference, especially on the road.
“…Arkansas is a talented team, they have a high potent offense they played probably their best basketball tonight. Our team is young and we are growing and we have to learn to compete. Three of our losses have come to teams that play similar style basketball.”
Kirsten Dean had 18 points to lead Florida while Ra Shaya Kyle and Myla Perry both added 17.
Arkansas was deadlocked 19-19 with 1:09 left in the first quarter, but scored that frame’s last five points inside an 11-0 run that extended into the second quarter.
The Razorbacks would end up scoring 31 of the first half’s last 39 points and took a 48-27 lead into intermission.
That lead grew to 60-39 and the Razorbacks got to the century mark for the first time since 2020 when Emrie Ellis knocked down two free throws to make it 101-72 with 59 seconds left.
Arkansas shot 49.2 percent (32 of 65) from the field overall and 74.3 percent (26 of 35) from the free throw line while holding Florida to 34.4 percent (22 of 64) from the field and 22.2 percent (4-for-18) from 3-point range.
Neighbors thought his team’s shot selection in Sunday’s 71-50 win at Kentucky was the best of the season, but that was knocked off its perch on Thursday.
“It has been replaced,” Neighbors said. “ Kentucky moved to number two, tonight moved to to number one. We wrote it on our (player) cards, we wrote it on the board. We wanted our first 10 possessions to be shots we made in practice all year long. And we didn’t turn it over one time and we took 10 great shots.”
The Razorbacks, who travel to face Missouri (14-2, 3-0) Sunday at 2 p.m., have now had back-to-back games with 23 assists.
“Our focus was really good and what I think they are beginning to see is if we takes good shots, we can score 102,” Neighbors said. “If we take bad shots, we will score 82. So let’s take good shots and get others good shots.”
The two teams put up a total of 48 3-pointers.
“I thought we took better ones,” Neighbors said. “Their’s were, for the most part, contested… I thought the shots that we took were ones that we can make 12 out fo 30 and if we continue to work hard, we might make 15 out of 30.”
Photo by John D. James