Coming off four consecutive wins and a Fiesta Classic Championship, the No. 25 Arizona women's basketball team (5-1) is more than prepared to take on No. 6 Georgia at noon Sunday at Stegeman Coliseum in Athens, Ga.
"Georgia is a very well coached team, they have excellent talent," said UA head coach Joan Bonvicini. "It's going to be a great matchup for us. They are very tough opponent, particularly at home. This will be a very good game to pace ourselves as to where we are."
The Lady Bulldogs (5-2) will have their hands full tonight as they host an Arizona State (6-1) team that is off to a surprisingly good start. Action continues on Friday as Georgia takes on Augusta State.
Georgia suffered losses against both ASU and UA in 2002, the last time the schools met. Arizona defeated Georgia, 70-49, at McKale Center Nov. 11, 2002, while the Sun Devils brought down the Bulldogs, 74-70, in Tempe Dec. 2, 2002.
"I think they'll be more than ready to play us," Bonvicini said of the Bulldog's recent injuries. "Both of us (UA and ASU) beat them two years ago, they have revenge on their mind, in addition to getting back to winning."
The Lady Bulldogs have already been bit by the injury bug in the early season. Sophomore guard Janese Hardrick is listed as questionable for tonight's game against ASU after suffering a sprained left ankle against Georgia Southern last Tuesday. Freshman guard Tasha Humphrey is also nursing a sprained right ankle that she sustained in Georgia's loss to in-state rival Georgia Tech, 55-49, on Friday. Despite the injury, Humphrey recorded six points on 2-of-7 shooting.
"From what I know, (Georgia is) a really good team," said sophomore forward Shannon Hobson. "They are a really good athletic team. It's going to be a good game for us."
In the Georgia's game against Georgia Tech, the Bulldogs shot only 29 percent from the floor and connected on two of 16 shot attempts from beyond the arc. Sophomore forward Rebecca Rowsey notched 12 points in the loss and was the only Bulldog to score in double digits. The loss accounted for their second defeat to an unranked opponent in the past week as Georgia fell to Texas Christian, 64-63.
After a crushing defeat by Ohio State in the semifinals of the Women's National Invitational Tournament, the Wildcats are confident they are making strides in the right direction.
"I think we have played very well and have improved in each game since Ohio State," Bonvicini said. "We need to win a big game on the road."
Although Arizona is vulnerable when it comes to playing on the road, the team hopes to have cured its troubles in its 76-73 victory over Brigham Young Nov. 27.
"I think it was good to get a win on the road (against BYU) but we're going to really have to play well," Bonvicini said. "I like the fact that our younger players are getting good playing time, we are playing unselfish, and are getting good production off of the bench, but we're going to need all that and more."
"I definitely think (the BYU win) is going to give us confidence," Hobson agreed. "We played really hard (and had) a really good second half. Putting 40 minutes together is also going to help us with our confidence and going out and playing on the road. We want to definitely become a better road team because to be a great team you need to be a good home team and then a great away team."
Arizona returns home to face UC Santa Barbara on Dec. 16 and then travels to Chicago State as part of a four-game road trip. Pacific 10 Conference action gets underway on the road as well as the Wildcats visit Washington, Washington State and ASU before coming back to McKale Center on Jan. 7 to take on California.