BIG BLUE FANS FOR
Midway through the second half, the Cats and the Crimson Tide were knotted up at 52-52 and at the under 8 and under 4 media timeouts, the Cats had managed to secure fragile leads of 1 and 3 points respectively. Over the final 3 minutes and 35 seconds of the game, the Cats managed to put away the Crimson Tide by outscoring them 12-5 primarily due to five Alabama turnovers over their final 9 possessions of the game.
All of the preoccupation and talk of losing streaks has come to an end. May the Big Blue Nation never have to revisit those discussions again!!
At no time during the Calipari Era have out Cats needed a win any more than against Alabama on Saturday afternoon. This game was hard fought for over 36 minutes, and the game had no clear winner as late as the under 4 media timeout. Then, the Cats made huge plays on defense and offense to secure a huge 10 point win. Just as the chatter following the huge win at West Virginia a few weeks ago speculated that the team had finally turned a corner, this win has generated similar chatter throughout the Big Blue Nation.
But, not so fast. The Cats have four games left on their regular season schedule, at Arkansas, at Rupp to close the home season against Missouri and then Mississippi, and the season ending game at Florida on March 3. The Cats can win all four of these remaining games, but for the same reason, the Cats can lose two or more of these final four games as well. To close the season on a strong winning note, the Cats will have to demonstrate that the optimism their win over Alabama has generated is justified with four strong games down the stretch.
How important would that be for this team? Huge! Very huge!!! If the Cats could win out from here to finish 11-7 in the SEC, the Cats will probably pull themselves out of obscurity into one of the top four double byes for the SEC Tournament. That would be HUGE!!!
It is entirely within the realm of possibilities for this team, and it is entirely up to this team.
The Cats hold a 30-11 overall record over Arkansas in a series that goes back to 1946. In games played in Fayetteville, the series is tied 7-7. During the Calipari Era, the Cats hold a 7-4 advantage, but Calipari's Cats are only 1-3 in Fayetteville, and two of the three losses occurred in overtime games.
Arkansas currently tied with Missouri, Florida and Alabama for 3 rd in the SEC with a 8-6 conference record, and overall Arkansas sports a 19-8 record. Arkansas's most impressive win of the season was over #19 Tennessee by 2 in overtime in Fayetteville, and the Razorbacks's most difficult loss was to #57 LSU twice, by 8 points at LSU and by 21 points in Fayetteville. Arkansas's 19-8, 8-6 record has produced an ANE of 0.183 ppp (#36) by playing a schedule with a strength of 0.083 ppp (#38). The Cats' 18-9, 7-7 record has produced an ANE of 0.174 ppp (#40) by playing a schedule with a strength of 0.105 ppp (#9). The ANE analysis gives the edge to Arkansas by 5 points, 78-73, in a game played at a pace of 76 possessions. Pomeroy has the Arkansas favored by 3, 79-76 with a pace of 71 possessions. Vegas opened today with Arkansas a 5 point favorite.
Use the following link to see how other UK fans handicap this game at 247Sports, The Cats Pause message board:
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For the third consecutive game, Coach Calipari will start Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Nick Richards, Kevin Knox, Wenyen Gabriel, and Hamidou Diallo against Arkansas. PJ Washington, Jarred Vanderbilt, Sacha Killeya-Jones, and Quade Green represent the entire experienced bench tonight.
The Kentucky controls the opening tip and misses on their first shot of the game by Wenyen Gabriel, and then Wenyen Gabriel fouls on the rebound. Arkansas scores on a 3 pointer. Wenyen Gabriel misses a 3 point attempt, and the Cats get their second foul on the rebound. Arkansas drains its second 3 pointer for an early 6-0 lead, forcing Coach Calipari to take a quick timeout with 18:50 left in the game. After the Cats fail to score on its 3 rd possession, Arkansas misses a 3 pointer but gets the offensive rebound three consecutive times. The fourth 3 point attempt was good. The Cats miss again, and Arkansas scores again to go up 11-0 in the first 3 minutes. The Cats finally score on a PJ Washington layup to trim the Arkansas lead to 11-2 at the under 16 media timeout. In the second segment, the Cats make a pair of 3 pointers of their own, and make 4 of their 5 shots to pull back to within 4 points, 17-13, at the under 12 media timeout. After the break, the Cats will have the ball. The Cats catch up at 20-20. However, after another tie at 22-22, the Hogs finish the third segment with a 7-2 run to move back on top by 5, 29-24, at the under 8 media timeout. The Cats will have free throws after the break.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander made both free throws to trim the lead to 3 points. After Arkansas moves on top by 6, 32-26, the Cats score 7 in a row to move into the Cats' first lead of the game, 33-32 with 4:36 remaining. The Cats have two opportunities to extend their lead, but come up short both times. While the Cats lead 33-32 at the under 4 media timeout, Arkansas will be on the line for a pair of free throws after the break.
Arkansas moves back into the lead, and extends the lead to 5, 40-35; however, the Cats score 5 to tie the game 40-40 with 32 seconds left in the first half. Arkansas turns the ball over to PJ Washington who makes a 3 point play at the other end off the steal. Arkansas closes the scoring with a 3 pointer. The game is tied 43-43 at the half.
The largest lead of the first half was 1 point by the Cats and 11 points by Arkansas. There were 6 ties and 2 lead changes.
The Cats scored 43 points on 35 possessions, 1.229 points per possession, and ARKANSAS managed their 43 points on 35 possessions, 1.229 ppp. The Cats made 47.1% (16-34) of their first half shots, including 4-11 from outside the arc. ARKANSAS managed to make 40.0% (14-35) of their first half shots, including 8-19 from outside the arc.
The Cats committed 6 turnovers in the first half while ARKANSAS committed 3 turnovers.
The Cats made 7-9 from the line (77.8%) and ARKANSAS made 7-11 from the line (63.6%).
On the Boards, the Cats won the rebounding battle 23-17, but the Cats and Hogs each grabbed 9 offensive rebounds. Arkansas won the second chance points 14-8. The Cats secured 52.9% of their misses and allowed ARKANSAS to grab 39.1% of their misses as second chance opportunities.
Arkansas opens the second half and fails to score. The Cats get a pair of free throws to ease back into the lead. A computer failure stops my tracking until the 10 minute mark. After Arkansas moved back on top 61-58, the Cats went on a 14-4 run. The Cats open up their largest lead, 7 points, 72-65 at the under 8 media timeout, and the Cats have the ball. A second chance 3 pointer increased the lead to 10, and following an Arkansas miss, another 3 pointer gives the Cats a 13 point lead, 78-65. At the under 4 media timeout, with 2:29 left in the game, the Cats have the ball with a 13 point lead, 83-70.
Cats win 87-72.
UK scored its 87 points on 69 possessions (1.260 ppp) for the game, and ARKANSAS scored its 72 points on 69 possessions (1.043 ppp).
Kentucky won the battle of the boards, with a rebounding edge 46-29, and the Cats controlled the offensive glass 18-11. Kentucky used its 18 second chance possessions to score 16 second chance points, and ARKANSAS used its 11 second chance possessions to score 16 second chance points. ARKANSAS had an offensive efficiency of 0.812 ppp on its 69 first chance possessions and 1.455 ppp for its 11 second chance possessions. UK had 1.029 ppp on its 69 first chance possessions and 0.889 ppp on its 18 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 50.0% of its misses as offensive rebounds while ARKANSAS was able to convert 28.2% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK made 17-20 (85.0%) from the free throw line in this game. ARKANSAS made 13-18 [72.2%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 31-67 overall [46.3%] and 8-21 from long range [38.1%]. For Arkansas, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was 16-37 [43.2%] and from long range, ARKANSAS hit 9-26 [34.6%].
The Cats committed 11 turnovers, one for every 6.3 possessions. The Cats forced 9 ARKANSAS turnovers, one for every 7.7 possessions.
Next Game On Schedule: Saturday night against Missouri at Rupp for the 29 th game of the season and the 16 th SEC game of 2018
Submitted by Richard Cheeks
Submitted by Richard Cheeks