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The Arkansas Razorbacks (19-11, 8-9 SEC) will look to wrap up their regular season on a high note with a home victory over the No. 23 Kentucky Wildcats (20-10, 11-6 SEC) on Saturday at Bud Walton Arena.
Both teams suffered disappointing losses earlier in the week, as the Hogs fell by 18 points at Tennessee on Tuesday and the Wildcats were upset by Vanderbilt, 68-66, on Wednesday at Rupp Arena.
Last time the squads met, Arkansas had arguably its best road performance of the season with an 88-73 victory over the Wildcats. Though most went right for the Hogs back on Feb. 7, Saturday’s game presents a new challenge
“Every game’s got its own theme, so it doesn’t really matter what happened in Lexington,” Arkansas head coach Eric Musselman said Thursday. “Certainly we’ve looked at the film on things that we did well and certainly things we want to get better at in that particular game and I know that Coach Calipari and his staff are looking at different things that they can do to get all of their… We all want to get our best players as many good shots as we can.”
Similar to the last game against the Hogs, the Wildcats will be without guard Sahvir Wheeler (ankle) and freshman Cason Wallace (ankle) suffered an injury in the Vandy game Wednesday. Not having both would be tough, but Musselman said his squad is preparing as if Wallace — who scored a team-high 24 last time against the Hogs — is going to play based on the information that has been made public, such as the following quote from Kentucky big man Oscar Tshiebwe.
“Yes, I went and checked on him a little bit. I went and checked on him with the trainer,” Tshiebwe said after the Vanderbilt game. “He should be good, he should be good. I am not supposed to give too much information out there [laughs]. … That makes me feel good (Wallace’s X-rays came back negative). I know he’s good, I know he’s good. He’ll be ready.”
Getting a regular season finale victory over Kentucky, which ranks No. 21 in the NET, would be beneficial for an Arkansas team that is trying to move up from the 8/9 seed line in the NCAA Tournament. The tough schedule down the stretch has been brutal for Arkansas.
“You know, it’s a hard schedule,” Musselman said. “And it’s a very hard schedule to end the year. You play on a Saturday at Alabama. You lose a close game, a game that really came down to a possession or two. You fly home Sunday and then get on a plane Monday and go play Tennessee. So you’re playing the 2nd-ranked team and 12th-ranked team in back-to-back games. And now we have a ranked team in Kentucky coming in on Saturday.”
With it finally being March, now is the time to turn up the heat for the Razorbacks, who have made back-to-back Elite Eight runs.
“March is kind of like nut dropping time,” Arkansas forward Kamani Johnson said. “You know what I mean? It’s when the men come to play basketball.”
Here are details on how to watch/listen, notes, projected lineups, stats, odds and more for Saturday’s game between Arkansas and Kentucky:
~ Arkansas and Kentucky have met on 47 previous occasions, all but four coming since Arkansas joined the SEC (1991-92). Kentucky owns a 33-14 advantage in the series, including a 29-14 mark in SEC games. In games played in Fayetteville, the series is tied 8-8.
~ Arkansas won the last three meetings in the series, including twice at Rupp.
~ This is the second of two meetings between the programs this season. This is just the second time since Arkansas joined the SEC that the Razorbacks and Wildcats will face each other twice in the regular season. The only other time came in 2013-14 when Arkansas swept Kentucky with a pair of overtime victories. First, Arkansas beat No. 13 Kentucky in Fayetteville (Jan. 14, 2014). Then, the Razorbacks handed the 17th-ranked Wildcats a 71-67 setback in Rupp Arena (Feb. 27, 2014).
~ Arkansas used a red-hot second half to roll to an 88-73 win at Kentucky to give Head Coach Eric Musselman his 200th win as a collegiate head coach on Feb. 7. The Razorbacks went 18-for-25 (72.0%) from the field in the second half and shot 62.7% overall in the win. Leading by one coming out of halftime, back-to-back steals and dunks from Anthony Black spurred a 6-0 run to set the tone for the win. Black finished with 19 points, five assists and five steals. Ricky Council IV scored 20 and Davonte Davis added seven assists.
~ Thanks to 497 points this year and ranking third in the SEC in scoring (16.6 ppg), Ricky Council IV is just 18 points shy of 1,000 for his career.
~ Despite going 3-4 over its last seven games, Arkansas continued to climb in the NCAA NET, going from 28th to 15th.
~ Arkansas has the #3 strength of schedule in the nation (WarrenNolan.com) behind Baylor and Alabama.
~ Arkansas was 11-2 in the non-conference and those 13 teams Arkansas faced are having good seasons.
~ Arkansas’ non-conference RPI is #4 nationally and non-conference schedule is #9 (WarrenNolan.com).
How to Watch/Listen
Who: Arkansas Razorbacks (19-11, 8-9 SEC) vs No. 23 Kentucky Wildcats (20-10, 11-6 SEC)
When: Saturday, Mar. 4 at 1 p.m. CT
Where: Fayetteville, Ark. – Bud Walton Arena (19.200)/Nolan Richardson Court
Television: CBS (Andrew Catalon and Steve Lappas)
Stream/Online: CBS Mobile
Radio: Learfield Razorback Sports Network (Chuck Barrett and Matt Zimmerman)
Gameday Info and How to Listen Online/Mobile: Razorback Gameday App
Sirius/XM: 138 (Sirius) / 190 (XM) || SXM App: Channel 961
#0 – G Anthony Black – Fr., 6’7″, 198 lbs.
2022-23 Stats per game: 34.6 min, 12.7 points, 5.0 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 2.0 steals, 3.2 turnovers, 0.5 blocks, 46.9 fg%, 32.1 3fg%
#3 – G Nick Smith Jr. – Fr., 6’5″, 185 lbs.
2022-23 Stats per game: 24.4 min, 12.8 points, 1.6 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 0.6 steals, 1.2 turnovers, 0.1 blocks, 38.7 fg%, 33.3 3fg%
#4 – G Davonte Davis – Jr., 6’4″, 185 lbs.
2022-23 Stats per game: 33.5 min, 10.9 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.4 steals, 2.1 turnovers, 0.1 blocks, 41.4 fg%, 34.5 3fg%
#13 – G/F Jordan Walsh – Fr., 6’7″, 205 lbs.
2022-23 Stats per game: 24.1 min, 7.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, 0.9 assists, 1.0 steals, 1.0 turnovers, 0.5 blocks, 44.1 fg%, 28.3 3fg%
#15 – F Makhi Mitchell – Sr., 6’9″, 230 lbs.
2022-23 Stats per game: 19.9 min, 6.9 points, 5.7 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.9 turnovers, 1.4 blocks, 65.1 fg%, 100 3fg%
#22 – G Cason Wallace – Fr., 6’4″, 193 lbs.
2022 Stats per game: 31.6 min, 11.7 points, 3.5 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.9 steals, 2.1 turnovers, 0.5 blocks, 44.6 fg%, 35.6 3fg%
#12 – G Antonio Reeves – Sr., 6’5″, 205 lbs.
2022 Stats per game: 26.9 min, 13.4 points, 2.1 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 0.4 steals, 1.4 turnovers, 0.2 blocks, 41.6 fg%, 40.8 3fg%
#24 – F Chris Livingston – So., 6’6″, 220 lbs.
2022 Stats per game: 20.8 min, 6.4 points, 3.8 rebounds, 0.6 assists, 0.4 steals, 0.8 turnovers, 0.3 blocks, 45.7 fg%, 35.4 3fg%
#0 – F Jacob Topin – Sr., 6’9″, 205 lbs.
2022 Stats per game: 31.0 min, 12.0 points, 6.9 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 0.5 steals, 1.3 turnovers, 0.4 blocks, 46.3 fg%, 31.1 3fg%
#34 – F Oscar Tshiewbwe – Sr., 6’9”, 260 lbs.
2022 Stats per game: 33.5 min, 16.5 points, 13.1 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.6 steals, 1.9 turnovers, 1.0 blocks, 56.8 fg%
Vegas: Arkansas is a 4.5-point favorite (BetSaracen)
ESPN: Arkansas has an 69.7% chance to win
(some information courtesy of Arkansas and Kentucky Communications)
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