5 takeaways from Kentucky’s win over Arkansas
The Cats survived by the skin of their teeth last night after trailing by as much as 15 points early in the second half. It would have been a devastating loss in terms of the damage it would do to Kentucky’s hopes for a 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. The Cats avoided disaster and all that matters is that they got the win. Here are my takeaways from the game.
- Clunkers just happen sometimes- Every team, even the very best ones have nights that are just a struggle for whatever reason. It was a game against a mediocre team with a late tip-off. It was sandwiched between a big blowout win over Auburn and a road showdown with Tennessee. While this team has become one of the best in the nation, they are still one of the youngest teams. The youngsters got a lesson last night that you can never overlook any team. Thankfully they still won the game and can hopefully learn a valuable lesson going forward.
- Tyler Herro saved the day- Had it not been for Herro the Cats could have trailed by 20 at the half and they certainly wouldn’t have come back and won the game. He kept Kentucky in the game with red hot shooting all night long. He missed just one shot and was 9-10 from the field, including 5-6 from 3pt. He was also a perfect 6-6 from the free throw line and finished with 29 points despite tweaking his ankle in the first half. I have been saying for a while that I think it is very likely that this will be Tyler’s only year in college and last night supported that opinion. He looked like an NBA shooting guard and that is very good for Kentucky going forward.
- Nick Richards stepped up in a big way- He finished the game with 7 points, 15 rebounds and 3 blocked shots. He was not perfect but he kept fighting even when he made mistakes. Hopefully this game can give him confidence in his ability to be an impact player whenever he is on the floor. He will have a tough challenge against Tennessee on Saturday but his performance last night should help him prepare for it. If Nick can play with the same level of fight and energy that he did last night it will be huge for Kentucky in March.
- Cal will have this teams attention the next few days- After that performance Cal will use it as motivation over the next few practices. That could bode very well as Kentucky plays their toughest road game of the entire season. It will be a very hard game to win but the poor play last night could actually get the team more focused over the next few days. With Reid Travis out I still think Kentucky will come up short of a win on Saturday but the game against Arkansas could rally the team to a huge win. It will be very interesting to see how it plays out on Saturday.
- Careless turnovers put the Cats in a hole early- Kentucky had 10 turnovers in the first 10 minutes of the game against Arkansas. It gave the Cats an uphill battle as they tried to overcome their sloppy play. After the early struggles they only turned the ball over 5 times in the final 30 minutes of the game. This team struggled with turnovers early in the season but has gotten that under control for the most part. They have to make sure that they do not let it become a habit again because a stretch of turnovers like that would lead to a loss against a better team.
Now the team can put last night behind them and get to work for preparing for an all out battle on Saturday in Knoxville.