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This is the type of game that lets tourney hopes come alive. Arkansas already has a win against Kentucky from back in mid-January and a win here would put them in a great position to make the Big Dance. The Wildcats aren't unstoppable at home, and need a win themselves to assure a top-four seeding for the tournament.
Kentucky's last two home games were a loss to Florida and an overtime win over LSU. Much like Arkansas, LSU beat Kentucky at home and then almost came away with a road win. Home-court advantage for the Wildcats is seeping away a bit.
Arkansas has won three straight games and after this contest, have three remaining games that are all winnable. A win here would do them wonders, but it's going to take one of their best efforts of the season.
A put-back dunk by Michael Qualls gave the Razorbacks an overtime win in the first meeting. That game was close from the start so that's a good sign for Arkansas, although it was a foul fest with 60 fouls total. You never know how games will be called, as it depends on who's refereeing the game.
The Wildcats shot more than 10 percent better from the field and dominated the glass yet still lost. The reason was because of Kentucky's 17 turnovers to Arkansas' six. Those turnovers were a main reason Arkansas had 13 more field goals attempted.
To have a chance in this game, the Razorbacks will need to do a better job on the boards. Arkansas doesn't have the biggest team and last game Coty Clarke was in foul trouble the entire game which didn't help. The smaller 6-6 Alandise Harris ended up playing 27 minutes and didn't grab a single rebound. Bobby Portis can't do it all for the Razorbacks, especially if they want to win on the road.
Going against guys like Julius Randle, Willie Cauley-Stein and Alex Poythress is already a tough task, and it's going to require a better effort from Arkansas down low. They can't get outrebounded by 18 and expect to come away with a win. Randle finished with six offensive boards in that last contest and totaled 20 points and 14 boards for the game.
The backcourt battle will be just as interesting. Kentucky usually has a size advantage with the trio of James Young, Aaron Harrison and Andrew Harrison, but not in this game. The Razorbacks match up pretty well with Michael Qualls, Rashad Madden and Fred Gulley III.
For the Wildcats, Aaron Harrison and Young have been on fire lately, both averaging in the upper teens in the past few games. Although, the same can't be said about the point guard Andrew Harris, who struggles with his shot most games.
The Razorbacks are pretty similar in build with Portis working down low and the three big guards on the outside. Qualls and Madden combined for 36 points in that first game and will need a similar outing. Both can shoot and create shots for themselves. The x-factors are Harris and Gulley, who both had solid games in that first meeting, but aren't consistent at all.
Kentucky is trying to build some momentum for the finale against Florida, but they can't look ahead. Considering they already lost to Arkansas, it's unlikely that will happen. As for the Razorbacks, they'll need even a better effort than the last time these teams played.
Predicted Score - Kentucky 85 Arkansas 71
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