The Kentucky Wildcats just finished one of their most impressive wins of the 2017-18 season.
It came on the road against a surging Arkansas Razorbacks squad that had won four straight, but the Cats ended that with a convincing 87-72 win. UK is now back over .500 in SEC play. Are they finally coming together with no time to spare?
Here are three things to know:
A slow start (again)
Kentucky has struggled to put together 40 minutes of basketball at any point this season, and the slow start was a prime example. Arkansas got off to an 11-0 start, and the first nine points came from 3-pointers.
The Razorbacks were beating UK to 50/50 balls and outworking the Wildcats on the boards. Kentucky worked its way back and somehow managed to go into the half tied with the Razorbacks at 43. Two 7-0 runs and an 8-0 run were helpful in getting UK back into the game after being held scoreless for the first four minutes.
Kentucky dominant in the paint
UK held a commanding advantage all night down low, especially in points in the paint and total rebounds. The 3-point shot was Arkansas’ ticket, but UK’s was inside scoring, and they did that well. UK was able to do that without contribution from big man Nick Richards, who had just one point and no field goal attempts.
They instead got it from guys like PJ Washington who had 13, Kevin Knox who had 23 and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander who had 18. The Wildcats ended up with a 38-26 advantage on points in the paint, and a 46-29 advantage on total rebounds.
A defensive shutdown
The key to UK’s pull away was a seven-minute stretch in which Arkansas missed seven straight field goals. That stretch had Arkansas begging for a shot. It dropped the Razorbacks’ shooting percentage down to 41 percent (38 percent from 3-point range).
That stretch also had Hog fans fleeing Bud Walton Arena with over three minutes left in the game. Arkansas finished the game shooting 40 percent, 35 percent from 3-point range.
Now, let’s celebrate the win!