Numbers favor Arkansas by 5 points

P.J. Washington (Jeff Houchin Photo)

By RICHARD CHEEKS, Contributing Writer

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 3rd 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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  1. Sorry Richard wrong!!!!

  2. What a game! They could have folded and didn’t! I hope Richards, Diallo, and Gabriel will focus on helping the team instead of looking for points these last 3 games. Jones looked good when he got to play. This shows that they can play and win against good teams in tough venues. Now they have to show that they can keep doing it regardless of when, where, or who they are playing. Take care of business at home these next 2 games and get some revenge on Florida in the Swamp and they won’t have to play again until Friday of the SEC tournament which would be huge! Congrats to Cal and his Cats! Enjoy it tonight and get back to work tomorrow.

  3. Richard isn’t wrong in identifying the numbers that gave Arkansas a 5 point edge. The one factor that is really difficult to quantify is the “learning curve,” if it is a curve. Resembles more of a jump at times rather than a smooth progression. Trying to predict 18 year old males performance on a given night or afternoon is a daunting task. Our performance during the first half of the season was so disjointed it was almost painful to watch, for me anyway. I’m not sure how this team has come so far in such a short period of time.

  4. Analysis:

    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 29th game of the season and the 16th SEC game of 2018

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