Date: Saturday, January 18
Time: 3:00pm CDT
All-Time Series: Kentucky leads 32-11
Most Recent Matchup: February 2019, Kentucky won, 70-66.
2019-20 Record: 12-4 (3-1)
Head Coach: John Calipari (11th season, 317-75)
It has been a weird year for Kentucky, but that is true for all of college basketball. There just are not any dominant teams. Any team can lose on any given night. Kentucky losing to Evansville is proof of that. The Purple Aces are 9-9 this year, but beat Kentucky in Rupp Arena.
Ashton Hagans, Immanuel Quickley, and E.J. Montgomery all returned for Calipari this year. Tyler Herro, Keldon Johnson, and P.J. Washington moved on. The Wildcats went to the graduate transfer market to get Bucknell transfer Nate Sestina. This team has weapons and some experience.
With four players averaging at least 13ppg, you never know on which given night who will be hot scoring the ball. This Kentucky does not shoot the three ball well, but they also do not take very many of them. Arkansas will have to pack the paint and rebound by committee.
2019-20 Record: 14-2 (3-1)
Head Coach: Eric Musselman (1st season)
This may be the biggest game for Arkansas in the 21st century. New coach, new hope, and new energy in the program. Kentucky comes to town to a sold-out Bud Walton Arena. The Hogs are 14-2 and are projected to be a #6 seed by many bracket “experts”. Head Coach Eric Musselman has said what Kentucky brings to the tables requires Arkansas to play an “A game” for a chance to win on Saturday.
The Hogs must have consistent scoring from Mason Jones and Isaiah Joe. Jimmy Whitt has been a constant contributor all season. Adrio Bailey has been solid. Reggie Chaney is whom the Hogs need to step up on Saturday. Smart defense, rebounding, and junk basket scoring.
Bud Walton is going to be wild on Saturday. Kentucky is used to that in opposing arenas. Wherever Kentucky goes, they bring hype with them. Opposing fans want to see their team beat the best. Kentucky is the best year in and year out that the SEC has to offer.
Bud Walton Arena is different though. Bud Walton Arena is special. Arkansas will give it their all, but like the LSU game, I believe Kentucky’s length and athleticism will be too much for the Hogs.
Score Prediction: Kentucky 77, Arkansas 71
Like many in our state, I didn’t have a choice in who my favorite team would be growing up. I was raised on Razorback. I remember watching the early season games on ARSN or conference games on JP Sports. My first favorite players were Brandon Dean and Joe Johnson. Great memories. I never thought years ago I would be writing about Arkansas Basketball. I don’t have a journalism background or anything like that. When given the opportunity, I wanted to challenge myself with something new and it has been a blast!