- Time: 2 pm ET
- Location: Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
- TV Channel: CBS has today’s TV coverage.
- Announcers: Brad Nessler and Pete Gillen are calling the action.
- Online Stream: CBS Sports or a free trial of fuboTV.
- Replay: CBS and SEC Network (check local listings).
- Radio: UK Sports Network with Tom Leach and Mike Pratt.
- Satellite Radio: Sirius 138 | XM 191 | SXM App 962
- Rosters: UK I ARK
- Stats to Know: UK I ARK
- Teamsheets: UK | ARK
- Odds: DraftKings has Arkansas favored by 2.5 points. ESPN’s Basketball Power Index gives the Cats an 59.2% chance of coming away with the road win, though that’s obviously thinking Sahvir Wheeler and TyTy Washington both play. KenPom gives them an 60% of winning. Barttorvik projected Kentucky to be a half-point favorite with a 52% chance of victory.
- Predictions: Barttorvik projects a 75-74 win for the Cats. KenPom has the road team winning 76-73. TeamRankings has Arkansas winning 75-72.
After another impressive short-handed win against LSU on Wednesday, thanks in large part to Bryce Hopkins’ breakout, this test against the Razorbacks will be a whole other animal, especially considering how rowdy the arena will be.
This will be the first matchup of the season for the two squads, who have played some solid games over the last several seasons.
Since John Calipari arrived in Lexington, he has lost five of his 15 matchups against Arkansas, with three of them coming in Fayetteville. Kentucky has won three of the last four meetings in Bud Walton Arena as well.
Those numbers don’t mean this will be any less of a fight.
Kentucky locked up the coveted double-bye in the SEC Tournament with the win over LSU on Wednesday, but the top four seeds are still very much in flux. Add in what will be an incredible Bud Walton Arena crowd, and Saturday’s matchup should be electric.
Eric Musselman’s squad enters this game at 22-6 (11-4) on the season and is one of the hottest teams in the country. After a three-game skid to start conference play in early January, the Hogs have found their groove with recent wins over Auburn and Tennessee.
Arkansas enters the game having won 12 of 13 games, making them easily one of the hottest teams in all of college basketball.
Looking at the numbers, the Hogs currently holds the 62nd-best offense and 13th-best defense in the country, according to KenPom. That is best for 19th in the country overall.
Even though they aren’t the most efficient offensively, they can definitely be explosive. Currently, the Hogs average 77.5 points per game on 44% shooting from the field and 31% percent from behind the arch.
Individually, the Hogs are led by JD Notae.
The star guard has been solid this season as he is currently averaging 18.7 points per game on 42% shooting from the field, and 32% shooting from three. He also adds 4.4 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game.
Next to him, the Hogs will turn to a trio of solid scorers in Stanley Umude (11.1 PPG), Jaylin Williams (10.4 PPG), and Au’Diese Toney (10.3 PPG). Umude also leads the team in three-point percentage at 35%, while Williams leads the team in rebounding at 9.6 per game.
Defensively, Musselman’s squad likes to apply a lot of pressure. To this point in the season, their opponents are averaging just over 15 turnovers per game, while the Razorbacks are also averaging just about eight steals per game.
For Kentucky, this game will rely a lot on the pressure the guards can take. Arkansas is a similar team to LSU in regards to their strengths, and we saw what that full-court pressure did to the Cats in the late stages of that game.
The big difference though? Notae is a scoring threat at all times. That is why getting Wheeler and/or Washington back in this game will be incredibly important if this team hopes to win.
If the backcourt duo is out for their third straight game, the Cats will need another all-around performance from the full squad. The key in this scenario will be to not turn the ball over. The Razorbacks are not the most efficient offensive team as the numbers prove, but if you give them live-ball turnovers, they will turn into transition points.
This game could have huge implications on Kentucky’s postseason outlook. A win keeps the Cats in contention for the SEC regular-season crown. It could also be enough to bump Kentucky back into the 1 seed line of NCAA Tournament projections.
A loss, however, likely ends those SEC regular-season title hopes while damaging the Cats’ chances of a 1 seed in the Big Dance.
If this team has proven anything, it is to never count them out, even when they are shorthanded. This will be another opportunity to put another statement win on the resume. Should be a fun one in Fayetteville on Saturday.