Kentucky Wildcats (12-4) at Arkansas Razorbacks (14-2)
- Location: Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville, Arkansas
- Game Time: 4:00 pm EST on Saturday, January 18th
- TV Channel: Today’s game can be seen ESPN.
- Announcers: Bob Wischusen, Dick Vitale, and Kris Budden are on the call.
- Radio: Tom Leach and Mike Pratt will have the UK radio network call on 630 AM, 98.1 FM in Lexington, and on the UK Sports Network.
- Online radio: TuneIn broadcast or UKAthletics.com.
- Online Stream: The game can be streamed online using WatchESPN.
- Odds: Arkansas is a 1.5-point favorite. ESPN BPI gives Arkansas a 64.7% chance of victory. KenPom gives the Hogs a 61% chance of winning.
- Rosters: UK | ARK
- Live Stats
- Predictions: KenPom projects a 69-66 win for Arkansas. TeamRankings projects a 70-69 win for the Hogs, while numberFire went with a 71-67 victory for the home team.
The Wildcats are back in action today looking to rebound from Wednesday’s setback to South Carolina, and they’ll get a chance to do so against a surging Arkansas squad.
While some fans may want to throw it away as an anomaly, it will, at best, cost the Wildcats a seed or two come national tournament time. At worst, it is a symptom of a bigger problem for this team in trying to close out games.
Immanuel Quickley continues to shine for Kentucky, and is very close to becoming the team’s leading scorer for the season. He is averaging 19 points per game over the last five games and is shooting an astounding 59% from three during that span. And it is not like he is forcing the issue. He lets the game come to him and takes advantage of big opportunities, like hitting the game-tying shot with 4 seconds on the clock on Wednesday.
Nick Richards continues to be strong as well, scoring 15 points to go with 7 rebounds and 4 blocks on Wednesday. However, he was only able to play 23 minutes due to foul trouble. He really needs to do better at staying on the floor for his team. If you expand those stats to 36 minutes, he could have had 24 points and 11 boards, which would have far exceeded either EJ Montgomery or Nate Sestina that took his place during those minutes.
You are going to hear a lot over the next few days about how good Arkansas is. Yes, they are 14-2 and 3-1 in SEC play. But in taking a deeper look at their schedule, they don’t have many big wins. Indiana and Georgia Tech are currently the best teams they’ve beaten.
Arkansas is led in scoring by Mason Jones (18.1) and Isaiah Joe (17.8), and they have two other players averaging double-digits per game. They are not a particularly big team, which could play into Kentucky’s favor. Guard Mason Jones also leads the team in rebounding with 6.1 boards per game. If Kentucky does not dominate the glass on Saturday, then you have to question their effort in the paint.
The Razorbacks are not a great shooting team. Nobody with over 15 attempts has hit more than 36% from behind the three-point line. They are not a suffocating defensive team by any metric. And like I said earlier, they do not overpower anyone.
The Razorbacks have an inexplicable loss to Western Kentucky on their resume (which is not nearly as bad as Kentucky’s Evansville loss), and they fell in a close one to LSU. So, for the most part, Arkansas takes care of the business they are supposed to. That is more than you can say for most of college basketball. And Bud Walton Arena is an incredibly difficult place to play on the road.
This Arkansas team is 14-2 because they play effective basketball in every aspect of the game. Coach Eric Musselman has his team player well together and buying into his philosophy. That’s turned them into a legitimate threat to win the SEC, but it also presents Kentucky with a great chance to get a resume win and most past Wednesday’s debacle in Columbia.