- Will look to play a very fast-paced game. 15th in the country in scoring.
- Aggressive defensive team; forced 276 turnovers this season (over 18 per game).
- Very good shooting team: 47.6% FG, 36.4% 3’s, 70% FT.
- Overall talented team with a balanced attack. Likely will see 9 players play 10+ minutes.
- Home-court advantage and really want a win. Coming off tough 2 point loss to Florida.
PG #12 Fred Gulley III: 6’2’’ 182 RS SR
A cousin of former Razorback standout Ronnie Brewer, Gulley comes in averaging just 3.6 points per game. The 5th year senior point guard is not much of a threat offensively, he is attempting just 3 shots per game, but he is a great floor general who will not turn the ball over.
SG #00 Rashad Madden: 6’5’’ 180 JR
Madden is a very efficient offensive player; he is getting his 11.2 points per game off of just 7 shots per game. He is shooting 50% from 3-point range and is coming off a team-high 23 points against Florida. We need to know where he is on the court at all, he is very adept at cutting to the open area.
SF #24 Michael Qualls: 6’6’’ 210 SO
The talented sophomore wing is currently the Razorbacks leading scoring at 12.7 points per game. Qualls also averages 5 rebounds per game; he will really crash the offensive glass. Like many of the players on this team, Qualls can shoot it from 3 (37.3% on the year).
PF #4 Coty Clarke: 6’7’’ 232 SR
Undersized 4-man who averages 8.7 points and 6.1 rebounds per game. He will step out and shoot a 3, he is currently taking 1 per game. Clarke is also a very good passer, he leads the Razorbacks in assists.
C #10 Bobby Portis: 6’10’’ 242 FR
A very highly touted prospect out of high school, Bobby received a number of accolades including Gatorade Arkansas Player of the Year and being named a McDonald’s All-American. He was ranked #17 in the 247 Composite Rankings. The freshman may be the team’s MVP so far, averaging 12.5 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. Another efficient offensive player, Portis shoots 74% from the free throw line and 54% from the field.
SF #2 Alandise Harris: 6’6’’ 237 RS JR
Alandise will most likely come off of the bench, but he will play starter’s minutes. He is a versatile offensive player that can play the 3 or the 4 depending on what type of lineup Arkansas wants to go with. Harris averages 10.4 points and 4.5 rebounds, but does lead the team with 2 turnovers per game. He is an aggressive offensive player who will come off the bench and get his shots up.
SG #5 Anthlon Bell: 6’3’’ 188 SO
3-point shooter!!! 70% of his shots come from beyond the arc, but Anthlon is only hitting them at a 31% clip so far this season. The sophomore comes in averaging 7.7 points per game.
C #33 Moses Kingsley: 6’10’’ 230 FR
Moses, a native of Nigeria, was ranked #44 in the 247 Composite Rankings. The freshman has been a solid back up to Bobby Portis this season, averaging 5.2 points, 4 rebounds, and nearly 2 blocks per game in just over 10 minutes.
SG #20 Kikko Haydar: 5’10’’ 170 SR
3-point shooter!!! Exclusively a 3-point shooter, Kikko has attempted 32 of his 38 shots from beyond the arc and is hitting 47% of them. He is also a very active defensive player that will work very hard in the minutes that he gets.
- The primary thing to know about the Razorback’s offense is that they will play fast. They currently lead the SEC in scoring, and are 15th in the nation, with 84.5 points per game. Also, they share the ball really well (250 assists) while making sure they take care of the ball (only 181 turnovers).
- In terms of what they will do offensively, Arkansas will run a motion offense that will generally lead to some sort of dribble drive (sometimes random and sometimes off a ball screen). When they drive they will look first to kick out to an open 3-point shooter. They will shoot a lot of 3’s!!!
- When you see a team like Arkansas that assists on 56% of their made buckets (that is a lot, for context, UK assists on just 47%), it generally means that they get a lot of open shots. We already touched on their ability to shoot the ball from beyond the arc, but they get open shots in others ways too. The Razorbacks have a number of long, athletic guys who are great at slashing to an open spot as a dribble drive is going on. Alandise Harris and Rashad Madden will do this a lot. Also, if the drive is able to get deep into the paint, then a dump off pass to Bobby Portis is more likely to occur.
- Arkansas will play a switching man-to-man defense. Since Kentucky has such big guards I suspect that they will switch 1 through 4 quite a bit, meaning that on any ball screen or dribble handoff involving anyone besides Willie Cauley-Stein, the Arkansas players will simply “switch” who they are defending.
- Arkansas will also look to trap when given the opportunity. This may not always come in the form of a full-court press; the traps may happen at half court, when coming off a ball screen, or when the ball gets into the post.
Keys to the Game
- The Razorbacks are going to push the tempo and they are going to score points. However, the key for Kentucky will be to limit the big runs. Arkansas is a good enough shooting team that they are going to hit some 3’s, but the Wildcats need to ensure that they aren’t able to string 3 or 4 together in a row. Don’t allow a 10-0 or 12-2 run to occur.
- Don’t allow the crowd to become a huge factor. Bud Walton Arena has a tendency to get really loud, and you know the fans will be out in full force for this game. Key #1 will play a factor in limiting the crowd, but a quick start for UK will silence the crowd in a hurry.
- Continued strong play from Andrew Harrison. After receiving much criticism early in the year, Andrew has played very well of late. Arkansas, as we have touched on, plays a very aggressive style of defense and will force a lot of turnovers. Andrew, and Dominique Hawkins for that matter, will need to do a very good job of protecting the ball.
- Julius Randle needs to avoid cramps and be a beast down low. Arkansas has a lot talented players that can hurt Kentucky, but the truth is that the 4 or 5 best players in this game will all be wearing blue and white. If Julius can pound away down low and have one of his 20 and 10 games while the rest of our starters simply “do their job” then Kentucky should come away with a very impressive road victory.