Struggling Kentucky hosts surging Arkansas

NCAA Men's Basketball

An Arkansas team in great shape for an NCAA tournament bid trying not to overlook a Kentucky team with a losing record is not usually a scenario that exists in February.

But that storyline is reality heading into Arkansas’ trip to Lexington for a Southeastern Conference contest on Tuesday.

Arkansas enters 14-5, with a 6-4 record in league play and a No. 29 NET (NCAA Evaluation Tool) ranking.

The Razorbacks have won four consecutive conference games and will have a week of rest following a 91-75 home win over Mississippi State last Tuesday.

Arkansas was supposed to play Texas A&M on Saturday, but that game was postponed due to COVID-19 issues with the Aggies.

But despite how well his team is playing and the fact Kentucky enters 5-12 overall and 4-6 in league play, Arkansas coach Eric Musselman feels the Wildcats are better than their record indicates with how many close games they’ve been involved in.

“I think Kentucky is capable of beating any team in the country,” Musselman said. “They’re long, they’re athletic, they’re excellent shot blockers, they play hard. They’re really hard to score on. Their defense is really, really good and they do a great job of protecting the rim.”

This will be the seventh road game of the season for Arkansas, which is 2-4 away from home.

Arkansas is led in scoring by Moses Moody (16.4 points per game) and JD Notae (13.7).

Kentucky enters on a three-game losing streak to ranked foes, the latest being an 82-71 home loss to Tennessee on Saturday.

The Wildcats also lost to Alabama and Missouri.

Scoring and shooting have been issues all season for the Wildcats, who are averaging just 67.8 points per game and shooting 29.8 percent from 3-point range.

However, Kentucky head coach John Calipari is not waving the white flag on the season.

“I’m worried about the next game,” Calipari said. “I’m not worried about the postseason, conference tournament. Look, we’re not that far off. We just played three ranked teams and we had a chance to beat them all. And we break down at critical times. Do I have the wrong guys in? I made some changes, and the guys that went in didn’t make any shots, turned it over. I mean, we’re trying everything we can, but I’m not thinking about next year.”

–Field Level Media

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