By RICHARD CHEEKS
The Cats fell back into their habit of allowing an opponent to post an early double digit lead before closing the gap by the halftime break, and moving on to a second half victory. Alabama led by 10, 17-7, but the Cats scored 11 straight to take their first lead, and 22-7 to establish a lead the Cats could manage. In the second half, Alabama managed to regain the lead by scoring the first 4 points of the second half, but the Cats quickly regained control, and played from the lead to the end of a very competitive game, winning by 5, 79-74. The Cats advanced to the SEC Tournament’s Championship Game again and will square off against Arkansas today at 1 pm in pursuit of their 30th SEC Tournament Championship.
ARKANSAS enters this game with a 25-8; 12-6 SEC regular season record and a winner over Mississippi and Vanderbilt in the quarterfinal and semi-final rounds of the SEC Tournament. While the Cats are the hottest team in the SEC, riding a 10 game winning streak, Arkansas is nearly as hot, winning 8 of its last 9 games. The Hogs’ only loss since early February was at #9 Florida by 13 on March 1.
ARKANSAS enters this game with an ANE of 0.156 points per possession against strength of schedule of 0.0692 ppp (#61). The Cats enter this game with an ANE of 0.285 ppp against strength of schedule of 0.0961 ppp (#32).
The ANE analysis indicates a Kentucky win by 9 points, 80-71 at apace of 74 possessions. This would produce game efficiencies of 1.078 ppp and 0.957 ppp. Pomeroy sees this game in Kentucky’s favor by 8 points 86-78 at a pace of 74 possessions. Vegas opened favoring the Cats by 8 1/2 points.
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