Kentucky and Arkansas will clash for an SEC title on Sunday.
The Wildcats are back in the SEC Companionship game for the seventh time in eight years under John Calipari. It wasn’t easy getting here though after Alabama gave Kentucky all they wanted in Saturday's semifinal action.
The Tide stormed out to a 17-7 lead and pushed Kentucky to the brink before the Cats escaped with a 79-74 win. This marked the fourth time in the last five games that Kentucky fell behind by at least 10 points out of the gate but came back to win each game.
As has been in the case in many of those comebacks, De’Aaron Fox came up big when it mattered most. With Alabama lurking at 62-61, Fox scored UK’s next nine points (extending lead to 71-63), and he scored 12 of UK’s final 17 points. The freshman point guard finished with a career-high 28 points to carry his team into Sunday’s title game.
The Razorbacks are back in the championship game for the second time in three years after last making it during the 2014-15 season. That game saw Kentucky dismantle Arkansas en route to a 78-63 win to put the Cats at 33-0 entering the NCAA tournament. After being tied at 19 with 10:18 to go in the first, Kentucky ended the half on a 22-6 run and ran away with the win en route to the title.
This season, the Wildcats defeated the Razorbacks 97-71 on Jan. 7, which was the two teams' only meeting during the regular season. That game saw Fox score a then-career-high 27 points, Derek Willis and Isaiah Briscoe each added 15 to down the Hogs in Rupp Arena.
Arkansas is in Sunday’s game thanks to a 76-62 win over Vanderbilt in the semifinal round. They’ve already secured an NCAA berth, but a win Sunday could vault them into a higher seed. They’re currently projected to be a 9 seed in the Big Dance, meaning they could face a 1 seed as soon as their second game. That’s why winning Sunday could be huge for their NCAA hopes, but they’ll have to get past a Kentucky team with a lot to play for as well.
With a win, Kentucky could vault into a 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, as they’re clearly among the final teams in contention for one. But that debate ends if Kentucky can’t get past Arkansas, adding even more excitement and intrigue to what should be a fun title game.
Here is everything you’ll need to watch and follow Kentucky vs Arkansas in the SEC Championship game:
Game Time: 1 p.m. EST on March 12th
Location: Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee
Live Online Stream: Watch ESPN
Radio: UK Radio Network with Tom Leach and Mike Pratt
Odds: Kentucky opened as an 8-point favorite. KenPom projected the Cats to be an 8.5-point favorite.
Score Prediction: KenPom projects an 86-78 win by Kentucky and gives the Cats a 79-percent chance of winning.