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RECAP: Notes, thoughts and numbers from UK’s win in Fayetteville

© Nelson Chenault | USATSI

© Nelson Chenault | USATSI

It was looking like Kentucky was heading for a rerun of Wednesday night’s foul-filled collapse at South Carolina, an exact replica of the least enjoyable game of basketball ever played, until the Cats kicked it into gear once John Calipari was dismissed from the arena midway through the second half. Calipari’s ejection from a tie game sparked a big Kentucky run as the Cats went on to put away the Hogs, 73-66, in Fayetteville.

Some things to note…


SEC officiating is awful.

I said it after Kentucky lost to South Carolina and I’m saying it again after Kentucky earned a big road win in arguably the toughest environment in the conference: The league needs to fix its officiating problem. It’s not an excuse for either team and I’m not saying it was unfair either way; it just makes the product hard to watch. That is all. These guys insert themselves into the game and not one person playing, coaching or watching is there for the officials. Let the basketball players play basketball. It shouldn’t be this hard.

Kentucky’s Big 4 reached double figures in scoring. One more did too!

New game, same story. Most of the Cats’ points came from the group of Ashton Hagans, Tyrese Maxey, Immanuel Quickley and Nick Richards; in fact, those four scored 54 of Kentucky’s 73 points.

The bench added 18 points to help out in the win, led by Keion Brooks with 10 points. Brooks was only three rebounds away from his first career double-double. And he finally got a put-back to go in!

Johnny Juzang also took a step forward.

After playing only eight minutes in the entire month of January before Saturday, Juzang had a big first half in Fayetteville. The freshman role player scored five points on 2-of-3 shooting, including the rare made three-pointer, his first since November.

You’re not going to see any Juzang highlights on SportsCenter tonight, but it was a big step in the right direction. He was even in the game in the final minute when Arkansas tried to make a comeback. Maybe this will get some confidence going behind him and he can become a contributor off the bench because Lord knows Kentucky needs more help.

Bud Walton Arena was excited to see John Calipari get ejected.

They got shut up real quick though.

Ashton Hagans told Coach Cal, “We got this,” as Cal exited the premises.

At least that’s how Cal told in on Twitter after the game:

There’s an internet debate as to whether Cal’s ejection or Kenny Payne taking over changed the tone of the game. Cal knew what he was doing and it worked. Coach Payne did a great job in Cal’s seat once he left. It can be both.

But without that moment, I’m not sure Big Blue Nation is smiling right now.

Kentucky kept Isaiah Joe from going off.

Joe is one of the best three-point shooters in the entire country, but UK limited him to only 3-of-11 shooting from behind the line, and only 13 points in the entire game. The Cats also did a good job on Jimmy Whit Jr., who had just dropped 30 in the Razorbacks’ last game.

For Arkansas to earn a win, one of those two guys needed big numbers. It didn’t happen.

I know Arkansas wasn’t exactly lighting it up, but that’s a HUGE win.

Arkansas lost its Super Bowl on free t-shirt, new uniform night at Bud Walton. Your University of Kentucky Wildcats stepped into the hostile environment in desperate need of a win, and head home with a 4-1 record in the conference. Can’t be mad about that.

Up next is Georgia, again, back home in Rupp Arena. Let’s make it 5-1 in league play then get ready for a trip to Texas.

Go Cats.

Article written by Drew Franklin

I can recite every line from Forrest Gump, blindfolded. Follow me on Twitter: @DrewFranklinKSR

28 Comments for RECAP: Notes, thoughts and numbers from UK’s win in Fayetteville

  1. ColoradoCatFan88
    6:56 pm January 18, 2020 Permalink

    Nick Richards is our MVP. Quickley finally had an off day shooting, but he was due for one. Maxey should’ve gotten more shots. Finally got something out of Juzang & Brooks. EJ’s stat line is extremely embarrassing & he’s lucky we didn’t get one more recruit because he wouldn’t see the court if there was anyone else to replace him. Kid is the biggest disappointment and is going to be the reason we don’t make it to the final four unless he can drastically become a contributor in the next 2 months

    • syrin23
      7:22 pm January 18, 2020 Permalink

      Why was Richards on the bench for the first part of the second half when they made their big run? Makes no sense.

      I will say it. The refs are screwing UK specifically. That is THREE SEC games where the other team is shooting the bonus before they even call a single foul on the other team. Hagans had a break away, an Arkansas player body blocked him, he had to throw the ball somewhere near the rim, and they called nothing. Then on the other end, the trademark ghost foul which on replay showed literally NO contact at all. The refs are out for UK.

      Sestina was awful. if he isn’t shooting the three, he is a liability. he doesn’t know how to not run over people. Rebounds he can’t get? Run through the guy. A shot you can’t block? Run into the guy. How does he have so little body control? EJ is the same way except he has an inability not go hack at guys and an inability to not go for pump fakes.

      Keion is going to be the player to step up. Not EJ, not Sestina. Juziang might also be the guy.

    • Dark Soul
      7:53 pm January 18, 2020 Permalink

      I agree 100 percent. I wish our players talked way more smack to the crowd when we knew the game was out of reach but the sad part is the refs almost still took the game from us. I have no idea how Cal doesnt swing on one of these spineless cowards. I was hoping for it.

    • Fort Knox 1978
      8:11 am January 19, 2020 Permalink

      Agreed. EJ and Khalil have contributed nothing so far. They look lost as far as how you play the game of basketball. How is that not obvious when scouting these players? I would think a scout could tell the difference between an athlete being able to dominate purely based on athleticism against high school kids versus how that translates to college. If you can’t shoot and you look lost and soft it stands out.

  2. 4everUKBlue
    7:01 pm January 18, 2020 Permalink

    A win in that environment under those circumstances will be valuable going forward. I like my team and coaching staff.

    • nocode96
      7:57 pm January 18, 2020 Permalink

      Hear hear

  3. Heavy C
    7:08 pm January 18, 2020 Permalink

    The officiating has become absurd. Want to know why there’s so many upsets this year? When you have the refs “Mucking it up” FOR the lesser team…whistle every 10 seconds….3 minutes spent staring into a monitor 3 times a half….its disastrous. And as for EJ….why he is getting the minutes boggles me. He literally doesn’t do ANYTHING well.

    • Han
      7:16 pm January 18, 2020 Permalink

      It is not hard to see why Cal continues to play EJ. It’s the same reason he gives Whitney or Brooks time when they can’t do anything right. We need another big to be reliable/an option, and they won’t develop into that sitting on the bench. We need them to be able to fit in when Nick has foul trouble or gets hurt, or when Sestina’s defense hurts us too much to keep him on the floor.

      We have 4 guys we can depend on right now, with Sestina being our best 5th option. But we can’t play those 5 all game every game even if we don’t get saddled with fouls.

    • syrin23
      7:25 pm January 18, 2020 Permalink

      The 5th option won’t be EJ or Sestina. Keion plays with effort, doesn’t make stupid fouls like EJ and Sestina do with regularity, he is more athletic than eitehr one of them, and has a great mid range shot. His issue is confidence. Play him 20+ minutes a game to get him ready for March. Juziang the same thing. Great effort, smart plats, decent defense, just needs much more confidence on the offensive side. We’ve seen what EJ brings, and it’s not good, and not getting better.

  4. UKgrad80
    7:12 pm January 18, 2020 Permalink

    I am glad to be wrong about the outcome. But I agree it is time to sit Montgomery and play Brooks!

  5. KentuckyRob
    9:40 pm January 18, 2020 Permalink

    Liked what I saw out of Brooks and Juzang. Both seem to be coming out of their shell a bit and playing with more energy and confidence. As far as EJ? Man, I just don’t know. I hate seeing him struggle like he is, but For whatever reason he just can’t figure things out?

  6. Mathlete
    9:52 pm January 18, 2020 Permalink

    The SEC may need to stay drug testing the refs, because they were “minutes to Mars” levels of high while calling this game

  7. Looother
    10:37 pm January 18, 2020 Permalink

    The difference in the game was the zone defense that Tony Barbee had Ky play after Cal was kicked out. It completely befuddled Arkansas. They obviously didn’t prepare for it because Cal refuses to ever play it…

    • VirginiaCat
      10:51 pm January 18, 2020 Permalink

      With Cal out, his assistants switched to a zone defense and it was like throwing a switch in the game. It put an end to Arkansas’s momentum, threw them off their rhythm, and Kentucky surged ahead for good. Had Cal not been ejected, the game may easily have ended differently. There is a lesson in that.

    • BuzzedBaker
      10:30 am January 19, 2020 Permalink

      Yes Virginia, the lesson is that Cal knows what he is doing. He’s not in the hall of fame for just being a good recruiter. There is not an assistant in the country that installs a new defense during a time out after the coach is ejected… they played zone and played it well because they prepared for it. Kenny Payne said himself, “This is what you built” when Cal congratulated him. It’s fairly obvious that Cal’s “when I get kicked out to wake up the team and put heat on the officials” game plan was the assistants knowing they have the green light to execute the zone. Cal doesn’t hate zone, he thinks it fails to capitalize on his teams athleticims… which is true until your point guard has 4 fouls and you only have one big left… then the zone makes sense. The lesson is that we need to stop questioning one of the greatest coaches in the game’s ability to build a winning game plan…

  8. Jeffrey_M
    10:52 pm January 18, 2020 Permalink

    I’m no basketball guru, not by any stretch. But when Coach Cal said last week that he now knew who his best four were (Hagans, Richards, Maxey, & Quickley) and he needed four other to step up (Montgomery, Juzang, Whitney, & Brooks), I predicted in an earlier post that Brooks would, more than likely, be the first to do that. With ten points to his name against the Razorbacks, and a flirt with a double-double, it appears as if this could be the case. Now, if Brooks can just be consistent with today’s performance, that would go a long, long way in making a huge difference in the rest of the year.

    As far as EJ’s poor performance, lest we forget, he had 16 points, 8 rebounds against UAB on November 29th, and 25 points, 9 rebounds against Fairleigh Dickinson on December 7th. These were not road games, nor were they played in as tough an environment as Arkansas, but EJ is no slacker. I feel that he’s simply going through a rough slump at the moment. But he’ll come around eventually. Now, that may not be ’til NEXT YEAR (which I hope is not the case), but it will happen.

    As far as Juzang and Whitney are concerned, athletes mature at different times – some sooner rather than later (look at how far Quickley has come this year, as compared to last). Patients is the key with these young men. Yes, it’s HARD TO BE PATIENT when a loss is on the line. But that’s the nature of the beast.

    I love our team and love our coaches.

    Great win against the Hogs – GO CATS!

  9. CrystalBall
    10:59 pm January 18, 2020 Permalink

    Zone was effective because it was the first time this season Ark has seen a zone defense and didn’t know how to react. They did not expect to see Ky play a zone.

  10. Matt10
    11:08 pm January 18, 2020 Permalink

    The last 6/7 minutes of the game were Cal’s best coaching of the year.

    • JT55
      7:50 am January 19, 2020 Permalink

      This should win comment of the year.

    • justaregulardude
      9:18 am January 19, 2020 Permalink

      2 flops not called, phantom foul on richards, no foul on the hagans mugging, 8 fouls to -0- to start the second half. That’s all on Cal. Cal had nothing to do with the 11 point lead on the road as underdogs before all of that happened. You guys are clueless.

    • classof68
      11:28 am January 19, 2020 Permalink

      Cal obviously does his best coaching from the dressing room.

  11. Righteous1
    11:16 pm January 18, 2020 Permalink

    I agree Matt10. He was nowhere near the UK bench. I hope the referee’s toss him out of every game. UK has a better chance to win with the assistant coaches anyway. UK loses this game if the 10 million dollar man were not ejected.

    • CrystalBall
      11:20 pm January 18, 2020 Permalink

      You are entitled to your opinion. Doesn’t mean you are right.

    • BuzzedBaker
      10:35 am January 19, 2020 Permalink

      Do you really believe the assistants had a secret zone defense package ready that the team had practiced and prepared without Cal’s knowledge? Do you really believe they came up with the offensive game plan during the time out after Cal got tossed? Do you really believe anything that happened in the final minutes of that game were outside of Cal’s ultimate game plan?

      You sir… are drunk.

    • StillBP
      2:27 pm January 19, 2020 Permalink

      Your host mad we won. You couldn’t come talk all the garbage you were spewing earlier this week. What a loser.

    • StillBP
      2:27 pm January 19, 2020 Permalink

      *you’re just. Dang.

  12. Bruce Dickinson
    11:46 pm January 18, 2020 Permalink

    Great day for the cats, plus duke lost.

    • 4everUKBlue
      9:10 am January 19, 2020 Permalink

      Amen, and they lost with the recruits we lost to them so K couldn’t beat LittleBrother even with the recruits he won from us. They will be no better at the end of the season.