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UK Hoops at Arkansas: Preview and Game Thread

Kentucky seeks to halt their three-game skid as the Cats travel to Fayetteville to take on Jimmy Dykes' Razorbacks.

We need Jenny O to lead our Cats to victory!
We need Jenny O to lead our Cats to victory!
Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Three games in a row, UK Hoops has battled and yet lost. As injuries continue to mount, with Makayla Epps fighting a nagging Achilles' tendon in her left leg and Matthew Mitchell on his 10th version of the starting lineup,  one may wonder how much more the rest of the squad can step up.  Has this squad, who has continuously and selflessly sacrificed all season to rally around an injured teammate, finally reached the breaking point?

If you're thinking that, you clearly underestimate the grit of these Cats.

Linnae Harper had a HUGE game in Oxford, scoring her sixth double-double of the season with 16 points, 10 rebounds, and 2 steals. Jennifer O'Neill, who is stepping up at point while the staff tries to figure out how to handle Makayla's injury, delivered her third straight double-digit scoring performance. We saw some real progress out of Alexis Jennings, who came in off the bench to give the Cats 10 points and 8 rebounds. This squad fought right to the final horn at Ole Miss, and for that we salute them.

But as we know in basketball, sometimes effort...just isn't enough.

So, how to win in the land of WPS? (For the record, my least favorite cheer ever. It may be patented but that's no excuse for the amount of agony it's caused over the years.)

  • We MUST be competitive in rebounding the ball. Arkansas has a slight height advantage, and is the third best team in the SEC at overall rebound performance. Defensively they are the second best team in the conference. Mitchell and crew need to focus efforts on getting our bigs prepped to box out and clean the glass WITHOUT FOULING. (That second part is key.)
  • We cannot let Arkansas set the tone of the game. The Razorbacks play a much slower style of offense, and I don't believe they have the legs to run with Kentucky even with so many Cats making up the walking wounded this season. Play fast - not too fast - and take them out of their rhythm. Also: steal like crazy.
  • Pick smart shots. If the Razorbacks defensive rebounding holds true to form we are not going to get many second looks. I'm not in love with our 3 point shooting but long 2's? Are more than ok.
  • Hit free throws. I'm not even going to elaborate here. While this has improved in conference play (averaging 70%), we could hit so many more.

There is going to be a lot of emotion at Bud Walton, as it's Senior Night and the Razorbacks are recognizing two great seniors as well as two team managers: Callie BernaJhasmin Bowen, Kendall Ruff and Amber Earls. Berna is the third best shooter on their squad, and if she gets hot in front of her hometown fans (she averages 49% from the field) that could prove disastrous.

For the record, I have nothing but respect for Jimmy Dykes but for just this one night? I hope he goes down in giant flames. The Razorbacks may need this win to make the post-season but darn it, we need this win to right our leaky ship!

Tipoff is at 8 PM EST. Sadly this game is not televised but you can catch all the action via ESPN3 or the SECNetwork+. I plan to listen in to my favorite radio guru, Neil Price, as he calls the action on 630 WLAP. However you chose to cheer your Cats on, we hope you'll join us here at ASoB.

Until Gametime....Go Big Blue!