Good morning, ladies and gentlemen of the Big Blue Nation, and welcome to the Tuesday Morning Quickies.
After our loss last Wednesday to Auburn and what lay ahead on the schedule, I began to entertain doubts that Kentucky could make it to the NCAA Tournament if they didn’t turn things around immediately. They played hard, but just weren’t able to finish the game and secure another signature win. Limping back home to face a tough Crimson Tide team, I was prepared for catastrophe.
But something happened on Saturday. The magic of the house Adolph Rupp built seemed to assert itself once again, and Kentucky played a quality basketball game. More importantly, they finished the game very strong defensively, and walked away with a hard fought win that they needed badly. Next up is the Arkansas Razorbacks.
Kentucky at Arkansas
It is never easy to win in Bud Walton Arena, and it won’t be easy tonight. Arkansas, like last season, is a quality team with plenty of depth and shooting. Arkansas is the best 3-point shooting team in the SEC (40%), and top 25 in the country at that stat.
They also lead the SEC in effective FG% and are #2 in steals. It’s that last stat that worries me the most after the debacle in the first half at Auburn.
Where the Razorbacks are vulnerable is on the glass. Auburn is a poor rebounding team on both sides of the ball but particularly defensively, and the Wildcats are a good offensive rebounding team, and that should spell trouble for the Razorbacks. Kentucky is the worst 3-point shooting team in the league (28%) and among the worst in the country.
Most of the time, I wouldn’t have that much hope based on those stats, but UK is also the best 3-point shooting defense in the SEC and second best in the entire country. They will need all of that tonight, too.
But UK has a chance in this one. Arkansas is coming off 4 straight victories and is playing their 4th of five games at home. It’s unusual to think of it this way, but this looks like a trap game for the Razorbacks. Let’s hope the Wildcats are up to the task.
Tweet of the Morning
Celebrating its third year, University of Kentucky Staff and Faculty #DanceBlue Dance Party raised $8,308 last Thursday. https://t.co/kQMQvRp9yi #DB18 #FTK pic.twitter.com/YR9R42bfvG— UK Philanthropy (@UK_Philanthropy) February 20, 2018
- Former UK linebacker Avery Johnson baptized in the River Jordan on his trip to Israel. How cool!
- UK 4-star safety commit Keontra Smith (2019) has received an offer from Miami that he called a “game changer.” Looks like UK will have to fight for this one, but that’s nothing new.
- UK lands talented 2018 in-state quarterback Kolbe Langhi as a preferred walk-on.
- Nick Richards wasn’t too hot about playing in the post earlier this season. He’s come around if that’s “best for the team.”
- Whole mood changed for Wildcats after victory over the Crimson Tide. It certainly helped my day along, that’s for sure.
- What killed off the hook shot? Cliff Hagan, who knows a thing or two about the shot, has a theory. To me, it just seems everything about basketball other than the dunk and the 3-point shot has lost the “cool” factor.
- Arkansas vs. Kentucky may not be as sexy this season as last, but it’s a vital game for both teams. We have fared poorly on the road this year — our curent road record is 3-5. But Arkansas is vulnerable on the glass, just like Alabama was.
Other Kentucky sports
- The Bat Cats open their final season at Cliff Hagen Stadium today. Kentucky is currently ranked #8 in the nation.
- Women place 4th, men 9th at the SEC swimming and diving championships.
- A Clemson kicker just won a year’s supply of Chick-fil-A. Lucky, lucky…
Other sports news
- Maia and Alex Shibutani won the bronze medal in ice dancing last night. Congratulations!
- John Wall plans to return to college this summer to finish his degree, and fulfill a promise to his father.
- Poor Maddie Bowman failed to put down her final trick three straight times, failing to defend her gold. Teammate Brita Sigourney took home the bronze, though.
- Pluto may have a tar-like layer of organic material beneath its surface.
- Asking the really, really, really hard questions: Are quark stars possible?
- The physics of blazing-fast bobsled runs.