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Kentucky at Arkansas: Open Game Thread

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This is the official A Sea of Blue open game thread for the Kentucky Wildcats @ Arkansas Razorbacks basketball game this afternoon at Bud Walton Arena, February 14th @ 1:05 PM.

Particulars of this game are as follows:

Today's game is an interesting one. Kentucky got the "must win" against Florida by the skin of their teeth. The game against Arkansas represents a trap game which UK will lose if they don't bring the same intensity we saw against the Gators.

Despite the fact that Courtney Fortson and likely Patrick Patterson will not be playing, this will be a very difficult game for Kentucky. Earlier this week, Kentucky got contributions from people who normally do little in the scoring column, and asking them to continue to do this is a risky proposition, but with Patterson down with an ankle sprain, that is what will be required.

It will be very difficult for Arkansas to effectively face-guard Meeks like MSU and South Carolina did. Arkansas is pretty thin at the guard position, and Rotnei Clarke is simply incapable of doing that to Meeks, which would either force the three man to do that, or the point guard. Arkansas has not been as robust on defense as many teams in the conference, largely because of their youth, so Meeks should get opportunities against the Razorbacks. What we don't know is, can the rest of the team step up and provide the additional scoring punch UK will need to win the game.

Things Kentucky needs to do well to win:

  1. Defend the three. Arkansas is a very good perimeter shooting team, and they take a lot of three point shots.
    Rebound. With Patterson down, rebounding will be at a premium. Even if Patterson plays, he is likely not to be near 100%. That means it will be a team effort.
    Take care of the ball. This is staying here until we do it. No explanation should be necessary.

Things that will make it hard for Kentucky to win:

  1. A slow start. Every time we have seen UK get behind early, it has been a problem.
    Failure to defend the post. Arkansas has a capable post presence that will require some double-teams, particularly with Patterson down. defensive rotation will be critical.
    Bad shots. With Patterson out, good shots will take time, and UK has not been known for their patience.

This is a serious trap that the 'Cats must avoid. Arkansas is down, but Kentucky needs to play them like they are the first-place team in the league and their ticket to the tournament is riding on this game -- because it might be.

Go, Cats!