That was a very impressive performance by the Kentucky Wildcats. They came out of the gate slow and got punched in the mouth but from that point forward it was domination by the Cats as they go to Arkansas and get a big 87-72 win.
In the first half Kentucky didn’t have the ideal start as they found themselves down 11-0 before getting on the board. By the under 12 media timeout they had battled back to cut it to 4. Kentucky took the 33-32 lead with 4:36 left in the half and both teams exchanged the lead until Arkansas hit a three to end the half and make it 43-43.
Out of the break both team were scoring efficiently, and the game was back and forth. However, with just under 12 minutes to go Kentucky took a 63-61 lead and never looked back. By the under 8 timeout it had grown to 72-65 and with 4 minutes to go the Cats were enjoying an 83-68 lead on their way to a big road win.
Thought on the game
Kevin Knox was what we need him to be
At times this season Knox has went away from demanding the ball and going on long stretches of not taking a shot. Tonight, he was looking for his shot and was knocking them down on his way to a 23-point outing and he also grabbed 7 rebounds. This team is at their best when Knox is playing exactly like he did tonight.
Jarred Vanderbilt is settling in
As expected it was a rough start for Vanderbilt after coming back from an injury but it looks as if everything is starting to click for him. Tonight, he had 11 points and came up with 9 huge rebounds with big offensive rebounds down the stretch to help build up the lead. As Vanderbilt continues to improve the team continues to play better overall.
Quade Green sparked the comeback
When the Cats were struggling at the start Cal went to his bench and brought in Green who knocked down a couple of threes and got the Cats settled down and in the flow of the game. Without him this one could have gotten ugly quick.
Kentucky dominated the glass
At the beginning Arkansas was getting every rebound it seemed but nothing was going right for us. However, after we settled down we made a big impact on the glass and won the battle 46-29 and had 18 offensive rebounds. That went a long way to allowing us to pull away in the second half.
Kentucky made their free ones count
This hasn’t been the best free throw shooting team, but they cashed in during this one. They were 17/20 (85%) from the line and hopefully they continue that going forward because in the post season games can be won at the line.
Overall, this was a performance that should have the fanbase very excited going forward because the team we saw in the second half is a team that can make a big run in the NCAA tournament.
Here are the postgame notes, courtesy of UK Athletics:
Team Records and Series Notes
· Kentucky is 19-9 overall, 8-7 in the Southeastern Conference. Arkansas is 19-9, 8-7 SEC in the SEC.
· Kentucky leads the series 31-11, including 8-7 in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
o UK has won six in a row vs. Arkansas.
· Next for the Wildcats: Kentucky returns to Rupp Arena for its penultimate home game Saturday vs. Missouri. Tipoff is scheduled for 8:15 p.m. ET on ESPN.
In the First Half
· Kentucky’s starting lineup featured Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Hamidou Diallo, Wenyen Gabriel, Kevin Knox and Nick Richards for the fourth time this season. UK is 3-1 with this lineup.
· Arkansas opened the game on an 11-0 run.
o Kentucky scored its first points at the 16:12 mark with PJ Washington hitting a layup.
· Quade Green made a 3-pointer at the 14:20 mark, extending Kentucky’s streak with at least one made 3 to 1,041 consecutive games.
· Kentucky used a 7-0 run over 52 seconds to cut Arkansas’ lead to two points, 17-15, at the 11:52 mark.
o Extended over 2:30, UK tied the game for the first time since tipoff at 20-20 with a 9-3 run capped by a Green layup.
· After starting 0 of 6 from the field over the first 3:29 of the game, UK made five of its next six shots, and stretched it to eight of its 11.
· Kentucky took its first lead, 33-32, at the 4:36 mark.
o Shortly thereafter, Arkansas answered with an 8-1 run.
o Kentucky went on an 8-0 run of its own over a minute to take a 43-40 lead with 18 seconds remaining.
o Arkansas’ Daryl Macon hit a 3 with four seconds to play in the half, to tie things up.
· Kentucky’s 43 first-half points were its most since a season-high 54 vs. Monmouth on Dec. 9.
· Kentucky got 27 of its 43 first-half points off the bench.
· Arkansas grabbed nine of the first 10 rebounds in the game. UK outrebounded the Razorbacks 22-8 for the rest of the first half.
In the Second Half
· Kentucky went on a 10-0 run over 2:55 to open up a 78-65 lead with 6:50 to play.
· UK held Arkansas without a field goal between the 10:18 mark until Dustin Thomas hit a jumper with 2:35 to play.
· Gilgeous-Alexander posted 14 points and five assists after halftime.
· Knox scored 12 points in the second half.
· After falling behind 11-0 UK outscored Arkansas 87-61, a plus-26 margin.
· Five Wildcats scored in double figures for the second game in a row. Prior to the Alabama game, UK hadn’t accomplished that feat since Nov. 26 vs. UIC.
o Kentucky had five players score in double figures in two straight games for the first time this season. The last time UK accomplished that feat was in 2017, Jan. 14 vs. Auburn and Jan. 17 at Mississippi State.
· Kentucky’s 87 points were the most its scored in SEC play this season and most since pouring in 90 vs. Louisville on Dec. 29.
o Kentucky’s plus-15 margin of victory was its largest of SEC play and biggest since beating Louisville by 29.
· Kentucky attempted 21 3s, its second most in any game this season and most in an SEC game.
· The Wildcats shot 85 percent (17 of 20) from the free-throw line, a season-high clip.
· Kentucky won the rebounding 46-29.
o UK’s plus-17 rebounding margin was its highest in SEC play, as UK has had that margin in each of the last two games. The only higher rebounding margin UK had this year was plus-23 in two straight games against Troy and Fort Wayne in November.
· Kentucky scored 38 bench points, one less than in Saturday’s win against Alabama.
o UK won bench points 38-6. UK is 9-8 this season and 4-6 in the SEC when leading bench points.
o UK also won points in the paint 38-26.
· UK is 14-7 overall and 6-6 in the SEC with more points in the paint this year.
· Kevin Knox scored 23 points.
· He reached double figures for the 22nd time,and scored more than 20 for the seventh time. Both are team highs.
· He scored 11 in the first half, reaching double figures before halftime for the 10th time overall and third time in the last four games.
· He added seven rebounds.
· It was the third-most points he’s scored in a game.
· PJ Washington had a double-double off the bench, scoring 13 points and grabbing 10 rebounds.
· It was his second double-double of the year.
· He was the first Wildcat to notch a double-double since Kevin Knox on Jan. 3.
· He’s scored in double figures in three straight – all off the bench – after not reaching that threshold since playing Mississippi State on Jan. 23.
· He scored 11 in the first half, reaching double figures before halftime for the fifth time this year but first time since the aforementioned Mississippi State game.
· Quade Green came off the bench to score 12 points in a career-high 34 minutes.
· He’s scored 10 or more in 13 games this year, three of the last five and four of the last seven.
· He added a season-high-tying six rebounds.
· He also dished four assists.
· He scored eight of his points early with the Cats in a double-digit hole.
· Jarred Vanderbilt scored a career-high 11 points for the second game in a row.
· For the second game in a row he also came up a rebound shy of a double-double.
· Vanderbilt has 78 rebounds in 169 minutes this season.
· Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 18 points, dished seven assists and grabbed five rebounds in 39 minutes.
· He tied his career high with two made 3s.
· He’s played 39 minutes four times.
· He’s scored in double-figures in 12 of the last 17.
· He’s got at least three assists in all but three games and at least four in 17 of the last 20.
Coach John Calipari
· Calipari has a 713-202 all-time on-court record.
· Calipari is now 268-62 at Kentucky.
· Calipari is 11-6 vs. Arkansas.