Welcome to the Arkansas Razorbacks at Kentucky Wildcats game, one of the more anticipated SEC matchups this season. This will be the first ranked team Kentucky has faced in 2015, and it will be a very interesting test for the Wildcats as they try to reach a new single-season consecutive win streak of 29 straight.
Arkansas comes into Rupp Arena having won seven straight, and doing a decent job of getting the "bad road team" moniker off their back by defeating Auburn, Ole Miss and Mississippi State on the road after losing to Florida in Gainesville all the way back at the end of January.
Essentials for victory
Take care of the ball — Arkansas’ press has been very effective against opponents all season. If Kentucky takes their time and attacks the press, they will get a lot of lob dunks and layups. Kentucky must score off Arkansas’ press.
Defend the three — Kentucky must challenge every three. Arkansas isn’t a ridiculous 3-point shooting team, but they can get hot and burn you. They have plenty of good 3-point shooters.
Rebound the ball — Arkansas is a poor rebounding team, particularly defensively. Texas A&M almost overcame a 23-point halftime deficit by wearing Arkansas out on the glass. UK can really hurt the Razorbacks on the backboard.
Make free throws — Arkansas fouls a lot, as most pressing teams do. Kentucky must make their free throws.
Get the ball into the post — Arkansas is a below-average half-court defensive team. Kentucky needs to get the ball inside early and often.
This is definitely a game that Kentucky could lose if they don’t play well or if they don’t respect their opponent. I don’t expect them to have any trouble respecting their opponent since the Wildcats lost both meetings last season and have only defeated Arkansas once in the last five tries.
But I think Kentucky now feels the weight of history, and like most challenges, I think they will embrace it.