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Arkansas won’t be intimidated by UK or Big Blue fans

DeAaron Fox (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

NASHVILLE — There was a time a Kentucky-Arkansas championship game in the Southeastern Conference Tournament seemed almost a given.

Times have changed but Sunday UK and Arkansas will play for the SEC title. Kentucky outlasted Alabama while Arkansas dominated Vanderbilt the second half to win 76-62 as Vandy missed 23 of 31 3-pointers.

Kentucky whipped Arkansas 97-71 Jan. 7 in Rupp Arena. Point guard De’Aaron Fox led UK with 27 points, six rebounds and six assists. Four teammates also scored in double figures.

Arkansas coach Mike Anderson — never a John Calipari fan — isn’t worried about the edge UK will have in fans Sunday.

Great atmosphere. We’re looking forward to it. I think our guys will come in and play. It would be played out on the court. That’s the bottom line. We’re used to playing in front of people. As a basketball player at Arkansas, you play in front of people. We’ll have some fans here, too,” Anderson said.

Just not as many as Kentucky will have.

“It’s a neutral site. We got a lot of confidence and we’re not too much worried about what Kentucky is doing. We’re worrying about what we’re doing,” Arkansas’ Jalen Barford said.

“They’re a good team, but so are we. We’re playing really good basketball right now, and we’re ready to face anybody in the country. So it should be a great challenge tomorrow,” Arkansas guard Dusty Hannahs said.

“I feel like we have to come out and play good defense just like we did tonight. If we do that, we’re going to be fine,” Arkansas forward Moses Kingsley said.

Anderson knows the Razorbacks need to slow down Fox. He had a career-high 28 points Saturday.

“He’s a very good basketball player, really quick, shifty. We got to deal with numbers. We can’t do it with one-on-one with the guy. We got to build a wall and make him find somebody else. He’s one of those guys, he’s gets in the lane, as well as Briscoe and Malik is having an outstanding year,” Anderson said.

“Then they got Bam. They got some guys that do more than what we think. I thought the Willis kid has always been a thorn in our side. He plays well against us for some reason.

“It’s a different game, different venue, different time. It’s for the Championship of the SEC Tournament. So, we’re looking forward to the opportunity. I’m sure they’re looking forward to it as well.”

Kentucky has won 10 straight games, but Arkansas has won eight of its last nine to solidify a spot in the NCAA Tournament no matter what happens in the SEC title game.

“We’re playing defense. I think that’s the first and most important thing. We outscoring people early on. But I think now we’re starting to trust each other offensively and that leads to more assists. Trusting the guy that got the hot hand. The trust factor that you’re talking about is not only on offense but on defense,” Anderson said.

“And we’re seeing Moses become that rim protector. We’re seeing Trey Thompson very, very involved in our defense. So, I think it’s just a combination of guys getting comfortable in what we’re doing and trusting one another. Our defense was really good today.”

 

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  1. Mike

    Why would Arkansas or anyone else be intimidated by our living and winning on the edge with our inconsistency? We may be winning but still not playing that well. It seems that every game we only get 2-3 players playing that well and this will not be a receipe for success moving forward. We can’t consistently get the ball into Bam, and it seems there are times when he looks like he doesn’t want it, and he plays out of position a lot. Willis will have a good game and then not so well for a couple of games. We are not a good offensive rebounding team and don’t do a good job defending the rim without fouling or leaving our man. This won’t sit well with many of you, but I am still of the opinion that our team would be better without Gabriel and Humphries. They are both a liability when they hit the floor, and it is a discredit to this coaching staff that these two guys haven’t gotten better during the year.

  2. Persimmon Knob

    Yeah , yeah, yeah !! And they are only what? 28 – 5 ?Your schtick is really getting stale coach Mike You’ve been wrong so many times it must be embarrassing by now but you keep on bellowing your crap into the wind. Take it somewhere but here

    1. Mike

      PK….Feel free to show me where I am wrong…that’s what I thought. You may not like it, but you run your campaign, and I’ll run mine. We are not playing like we should be at this point in the season for the talent level we have.

      1. Persimmon Knob

        I believe you blurted something to the effect that the Cats weren’t a 3 seed or even a 4. Well wait a minute !! Dam if you weren’t right, genius. The consensus is that they will be a 2 seed. Need more ??
        My “campaign” ? I enjoy the game despite all of its warts. Something you would find hard to do given your agenda (campaign) in getting the coaching staff fired for some reason known only to yourself. Or is it the fact that you enjoy sitting behind a keyboard taking shots at a group of 19 and 20 year old kids , some with professional aspirations, most just playing the game at a higher level than you ever dreamed of because they can.You are the consummate “keyboard warrior”. Be a hero and call them out to their faces. Many of the football practices are open. Take a shot at your favorite punching bag to his face. Love to see it ! .

        1. Mike

          Rather than turning on your extreme meter or going back thru history reviews just tell me, in above review, where i said anything that wasn’t true. If coach Cal can call them out for not playing to his expectations then many of us have that same freedom. Just because you don’t agree with the comments probably won’t be changing them. Our record is very good for this time of the year but we have been escaping more than winning, and I feel there are many other teams playing with more consistency and improvement pushing thru March. If we can get a fuller team “buy in” and better balance on offense and defense, we could win the whole thing which is our goal every year.

  3. Cats79

    Mike just enjoy the ride these cats are having they are playing there best defense of the season and all you want gripe like they ought be perfect. The only thing is hasn’t Mulder not been playing that’s what puzzle me he can flat out shoot

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