Kentucky visits Arkansas on Saturday in a key SEC basketball matchup. Look inside for a preview of the game along with a prediction of the game’s final score.
By 14Powers Hoops
Team Statistical Comparison
Kentucky Scoring Leaders
|Keion Brooks Jr.||Kentucky||5.3||35.0||11||3|
Kentucky Rebounding Leaders
|Keion Brooks Jr.||Kentucky||18||33||51||3.2|
Arkansas Scoring Leaders
|Jimmy Whitt Jr.||Arkansas||14.8||102.0||33||0|
Arkansas Rebounding Leaders
|Jimmy Whitt Jr.||Arkansas||22||63||85||5.3|
|0||Ashton Hagans||G||6′-3″||198||SO||Cartersville, GA|
|1||Nate Sestina||F||6′-9″||234||SR||Emporium, PA|
|2||Kahlil Whitney||F||6′-6″||210||FR||Chicago, IL|
|3||Tyrese Maxey||G||6′-3″||198||FR||Garland, TX|
|4||Nick Richards||F||6′-11″||247||JR||Kingston, Jamaica|
|5||Immanuel Quickley||G||6′-3″||188||SO||Havre De Grace, MD|
|10||Johnny Juzang||G||6′-6″||214||FR||Los Angeles, CA|
|11||Dontaie Allen||G||6′-6″||200||FR||Falmouth, KY|
|12||Keion Brooks Jr.||F||6′-7″||205||FR||Fort Wayne, IN|
|13||Riley Welch||G||6′-0″||185||JR||Littleton, CO|
|14||Brennan Canada||F||6′-6″||198||FR||Mount Sterling, KY|
|21||Zan Payne||G||6′-4″||235||FR||Lexington, KY|
|23||EJ Montgomery||F||6′-10″||228||SO||Fort Pierce, FL|
|33||Ben Jordan||F||6′-9″||250||SO||Olive Hill, KY|
|0||Jeantal Cylla||F||6′-7″||215||SR||Lake Worth, FL|
|1||Isaiah Joe||G||6′-5″||180||SO||Fort Smith, AR|
|2||Adrio Bailey||F||6′-6″||217||SR||Clarence, LA|
|3||Desi Sills||G||6′-1″||196||SO||Jonesboro, AR|
|5||Jalen Harris||G||6′-2″||166||JR||Wilson, NC|
|11||JD Notae||G||6′-2″||185||JR||Covington, GA|
|12||Ty Stevens||G||6′-2″||180||JR||Republic, MO|
|13||Emeka Obukwelu||F||6′-8″||222||JR||Plano, TX|
|15||Mason Jones||G||6′-5″||200||JR||Desoto, TX|
|22||Abayomi Iyiola||F||6′-9″||210||JR||Atlanta, GA|
|23||Connor Vanover||F||7′-3″||230||SO||Little Rock, AR|
|24||Ethan Henderson||F||6′-8″||210||SO||Little Rock, AR|
|33||Jimmy Whitt Jr.||G||6′-3″||175||SR||Columbia, MO|
|35||Reggie Chaney||F||6′-8″||222||SO||Tulsa, OK|
Kentucky (12-4, 3-1 SEC) was stunned by South Carolina 81-78 on Wednesday in Columbia, S.C. The Wildcats appeared be on course to win building a 16-8 lead with 11:13 remaining in the first half. That lead grew to 29-18 with 3:47 to go in the half. However, the Gamecocks cut that lead to five with under two minutes to play and would head to the locker room down 33-25. In the second half Kentucky built an even bigger (54-41) lead 11:41 to play in the game on free throws by EJ Montgomery. However, over the next few minutes the Gamecocks would out-score UK 20-8 to narrow the Kentucky lead to just 62-61 with 6:16 to play. A 3-point shot by Justin Minaya with 3:42 to play put USC up 71-70. Kentucky was never able to regain the lead again. Guard Jermaine Couisnard led the Gamecocks in scoring with 26 points. Immanuel Quickley was the leading scorer for Kentucky with 20. Kentucky lost game this due to turnovers losing 15 to USC’s nine. The Gamecocks also took 92 shots (FG/3 PT) during the game compared to 70 for Kentucky. Although UK out-shot the Gamecocks from field goal range 43.6% to 39.7%, the home team made five more field goals total than UK. It’s surprising the game was as close as it was. Kentucky’s nine more made free throws than USC kept the score close.
Guard Tyrese Maxey leads the Wildcats in scoring (13.9). With 20 made threes, Maxey is also a threat from beyond the arc. Forward Nick Richards (13.1 ppg), Immanuel Quickley (13.7 ppg) and guard Ashton Hagans (13.1 ppg) are UKs other key scorers. Richards is the team’s leading rebounder, pulling down 7.7 per contest. Kentucky is 6th in the SEC in scoring offense (75.0 ppg) and 5th in scoring defense (63.7 ppg). The Cats have improved some from three point range making 32.1% of their attempts (5th/SEC). But from field goal range the Cats make a over 46% of shots, third best in the conference. UK also leads the conference in free throw shooting hitting on 76.8%. The Cats are also solid rebounders with a plus 5.6 rebounding margin.
Arkansas (14-2, 3-1 SEC) defeated Vanderbilt 75-55 on Wednesday night in Fayetteville. Vanderbilt, the heavy underdogs, competed well early on and even led 17-14 with 11:18 remaining in the half on a Dylan Disu dunk. However, Arkansas re-took the lead at 18-17 with 9:52 remaining in the first half. In the latter part of the first half the Razorbacks would lead by as much as nine before heading to halftime on top 34-28. In the second half with 16:07 remaining the Hog lead reached double digits at 43-33 after back-to-back made 3-point shots by Isaiah Joe. Vanderbilt repeatedly left the area around the basket wide open for easy layups and dunks by the Razorbacks. Offensively, the Commodore’s conditioning appeared questionable as shooting accuracy dropped off significantly in the second half. Guard Saben Lee led Vandy in scoring with 17 points. Arkansas guard Jimmy Whitt Jr. led all scorers with 30 points. Whitt was the main beneficiary of Vandy’s pathetic defense inside as all but two of his points came from field goals. Vandy hit just 12 of 22 free throws (54.5%). The Hogs were even worse from the line making just 8 of 15 (53.3%). Both teams struggled from 3-point range making 25% (5 for 20) each.
For the season, guard Mason Jones (18.1 ppg) is the Hog’s leader in scoring. Sharp-shooting Isaiah Joe (17.8 ppg) is the second leading scorer. Joe has 59 made threes so far this season. Jones also leads the Hogs in rebounds (6.1 rpg).
Arkansas is scoring an average of 74.6 points per game (7th SEC). Defensively, they are allowing 61.4 points per contest (3rd SEC). The Hogs like to shoot threes. They have taken 391 attempts from beyond the arc so far this season. Only Alabama (461), Vandy (401) and Auburn (414) have taken more. The Hogs not only can shoot the three, they can defend it. Arkansas is No. 1 in the conference in 3-point shooting defense allowing just 22.8% of shots to be made. Arkansas also leads the league in steals and average 9.1 of those per game.
This is a pivotal game between two very good teams, both 3-1 in the league. The loser drops down into the middle of the standings while the winner stays in the upper cusp of the conference. Kentucky is coming off a loss at South Carolina and seems more vulnerable here, especially playing at Arkansas. This one could go either way but I think Kentucky comes away with a big road win to kind of make up for the USC debacle.