Arkansas Razorbacks 58, Kentucky Wildcats 68: Hoops Postmortem

Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Kentucky badly needed to win against Arkansas at home to avoid a nasty home losing skid, and to get ready for the upcoming road trip. They got it done.

Once again, I was unable to watch the game, but I did hear some of it on the radio, including the last 4 minutes or so of the game. This was a very important victory by Kentucky not only to prevent further hemorrhaging of their SEC standing, but to avoid another losing streak like they suffered earlier in the SEC season. This one would have been a home losing streak, the worst kind.

But the Wildcats fought back today from what had to be a disconcerting week after their loss to Alabama at home, and got the job done against the Arkansas Razorbacks. The Razorbacks are a solid team that fought hard and had a one-point lead going into the half, but they couldn't quite get it done. Still, Arkansas freshman forward Jessica Jackson dropped 23 points on Kentucky in an impressive performance in a losing effort.

Kentucky needed this game, as I think I've said, and they got it. Arkansas is a much more deliberate team than Kentucky, and the pace of the game, only 68 possessions, is very slow. But the Ladybacks are a half-court execution team, not an athletic running team like Kentucky, and they played the game the way that gave them the best chance to win.

Team observations

  • Kentucky shot the ball much better today with an eFG% of 52.1 and an efficiency of 100, which is not great. The large number of turnovers (18) were the main reason for the offensive inefficiency, and also the fact that Kentucky simply couldn't make layups in the first half. Finishing around the basket has been a problem that has plagued Kentucky all year long.

  • 60% free throw shooting is not good enough, but with only 15 attempts, it was not as bad as it might have been.

  • 45% from 3, with 9 made 3-pointers, made up for some of the missed layups.

  • Kentucky's defense surrendered an 46.4% eFG%, not great but not horrible either.

  • 56% of Kentucky's baskets were assisted. That's a solid number.

  • Kentucky one the offensive rebounding battle handily, 44.8% to 24.1%

Player observations

Wildcats box score

Box score is courtesy of Women's Basketball State.

# Player M FG-A FT-A 2-A 3-A O/D T Reb A St TO Blk PF Pts
13 Goss, Bria 37 3-5 2-2 1-3 2-2 3/3 6 0 2 2 0 2 10
0 O'Neill, Jennifer 34 8-12 0-0 3-3 5-9 0/6 6 5 0 5 0 2 21
32 Evans, Kastine 29 3-10 1-2 2-6 1-4 1/2 3 4 1 2 2 0 8
23 Walker, Samarie 26 1-5 0-0 1-5 0-0 3/1 4 3 1 2 1 4 2
3 Thompson, Janee 23 5-7 2-3 4-5 1-2 0/2 2 2 3 2 0 0 13
50 Bishop, Azia 18 2-9 2-3 2-8 0-1 2/4 6 0 0 1 1 0 6
12 Sidney, Jelleah 17 2-4 1-3 2-2 0-2 2/2 4 0 0 2 2 4 5
11 Stallworth, DeNesha 10 1-3 1-2 1-3 0-0 2/1 3 0 1 2 0 2 3
25 Epps, Makayla 3 0-0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0/0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0
15 Harper, Linnae 3 0-1 0-0 0-1 0-0 0/1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0

TOTALS 200 25-56 9-15 16-36 9-20 13/22 35 14 8 18 6 15 68
45.0% 60.0% 44.0% 45.0%

  • Based only on the box, the game ball has to go to Jennifer O'Neil. Her line is awesome, especially from the arc and the six rebounds. Five turnovers were the only negative.

  • Bria Goss continues her good 3-point shooting, and had a nice game, including 2 steals.

  • Kastine Evans apparently struggled shooting the ball, but she lead the team in assist/turnover ratio.

  • Samarie Walker and Azia Bishop both struggled to shoot the ball, and from where they usually shoot it, that's a problem. Bishop rebounded well, though.

  • DeNesha Stallworth was a non-factor. She's stills struggling to recover from the knee surgery.

  • Janee Thompson had a really good game. The shot the ball well and had 3 steals.

Overall, this was a better effort, but it's far from what this team needs to do to make a run at the Final Four. Kentucky is really having trouble finishing plays inside, and that's something that just can't continue if they want to be successful. Defensively, this team is pretty good, but it's putting the ball in the basket that has bedeviled them this season.

When you shoot the ball well from three, you are going to win a lot of games. Kentucky, though is very streaky from out there. It saved them today, but they have to get back to making fundamental basketball plays and executing the simple stuff to become all they can be. I am concerned that Stallworth may never return to form this season, because up until now, she hasn't been anything like the player she was before her surgery.

But this was a good game, and a good win. Let's see if they can take us on a nice streak, starting at Georgia on Thursday.

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