Well, that was ugly. In my professional opinion, I believe the Cats might have caught a bad case of looking ahead. Arkansas is a bottom five team in the SEC and UK just did not come ready to play.
Arkansas was hitting everything they were throwing up from downtown before Kentucky finally locked it down. The Hogs led 39-28 at the break, and they extended their lead to as much as 45-30 in the second half.
But Kentucky never backed down. Instead, they turned on the jets on both ends of the floor. And that was mainly thanks to Tyler Herro, and limiting turnovers.
The Cats had 12 turnovers at the half, but they figured things out in the second half. And that was due to Ashton Hagans and Immanuel Quickley slowing things down a bit.
And what a performance by Nick Richards. Him and EJ Montgomery struggled so much in the first half that Calipari actually sat them both and went to a four-guard lineup. That lineup had PJ Washington at the five and Keldon Johnson at the four. It was bad.
But Nick got things going, and he was excellent. He didn’t score a ton, but he rebounded extremely well on both ends of the floor. He finished with 15 rebounds (five offensive). Not to mention, he blocked three shots for the second consecutive game. That was a much needed game for the sophomore.
PJ Washington struggled tonight, but he played hard. This was the game PJ missed having Reid Travis on the block to move the other big man out of the way.
Lastly, Keldon Johnson also struggled to find his stroke, but he fought for the baskets he did get. He really forced the issue in the paint.
Kentucky was probably looking ahead to Tennessee, but they were still able to withstand adversity and come out with the win. I’ll take it.
Next up, the Cats will travel to Knoxville to take on the No. 7 ranked Tennessee Volunteers on Saturday afternoon.
Tyler Herro was THE MAN tonight.
Some had started to call him the road warrior because he played so well on the road and just played okay at home. But Herro put that notion to bed tonight.
Herro responded with bucket after bucket to keep Kentucky in the game. He was hitting shots from all over the place.
Oh, and he got injured right before halftime. He turned his ankle and it looked like he might struggle the rest of the way. But nothing was slowing him down.
He was able to drive, shoot runners, hit threes, and knock down shot after shot off balance. He fought for everything he got tonight, and it was awesome to watch.
He struggled to stay in front of his man at times, yet he was steal able to snag a couple steals. He stays in the passing lanes and can even tip-toe his way into a steal.
Tyler Herro with the poke away from behind and ends it with the slam. Big time play. pic.twitter.com/GWBWecSvbu— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) February 27, 2019
Herro finished with 29 points, four rebounds, three assists, and two steals. He shot 9-10 from the floor, including 5-6 from three-point land and 6-6 from the free throw line. 17 of those points came in the second half.
29 points on only 10 shots is absolutely ridiculous.
It was an ugly game from just about everyone. Everyone but Tyler Herro. He saved the Cats tonight.
What a performance!