Fayetteville, AR (SportsNetwork.com) - For the second straight game, the Arkansas Razorbacks will welcome a nationally-ranked SEC opponent to Bud Walton Arena, as they tangle with the 13th-ranked Kentucky Wildcats on Tuesday night.
Since losing a tough road contest to North Carolina on Dec. 14 (82-77), Kentucky has responded nicely with four consecutive victories, which includes a 2-0 start in the SEC. The Wildcats won their first true road game of the season on Saturday afternoon when they went into Nashville and took down Vanderbilt, 71-62.
Arkansas meanwhile, has been trending in the opposite direction with two straight losses in conference action to slip to 11-4 overall. The Razorbacks suffered their first home loss of the season to nationally-ranked Florida on Saturday, falling in heartbreaking fashion, 84-82.
The Wildcats hold a 25-9 advantage over the Razorbacks in the all-time series, which includes a 73-60 home victory in last season's matchup.
Despite getting outshot from the field by Vanderbilt over the weekend, 50 percent to 42.6 percent, the Wildcats still rolled to the nine-point victory by earning extra possessions with advantages in both rebounding (41-28) and turnovers (16-10). Willie Cauley-Stein paced the effort with 15 points, doing so on 7-of-9 from the field. Aaron Harrison netted 14 points, Andrew Harrison tallied 10 points, eight rebounds and four assists and Julius Randle brought down 11 rebounds.
Kentucky has been dominant on both ends of the floor this season, as it shoots 47.5 percent from the field for 80.5 ppg while allowing just 65.8 ppg on 39 percent shooting. It is also one of the nation's most active teams on the glass with a +12.7 rebounding margin, but it is sometimes held back by poor showing in the turnover battle (-1.3) and at the foul line (.660). Randle's freshman season has been spectacular, as he registers 16.7 ppg (on 54 percent from the field) and 10.9 rpg. Fellow first-year players James Young (14.1 ppg), Aaron Harrison (14.0 ppg) and Andrew Harrison (10.9 ppg) have also made their mark, while Cauley-Stein joins Randle in the frontcourt and posts 10.9 ppg, 7.7 rpg and 3.7 bpg.
In a back-and-forth contest with Florida the last time out, Arkansas lost its lead in the waning seconds of regulation on a game-tying jumper that forced overtime, and it never lead in the extra session. Despite keeping the game close thanks to 10 3-pointers, the squad was ultimately disappointing from the floor, shooting just 37.5 percent. Rashad Madden was outstanding in spite of the setback, shooting 9-of-16 from the floor (including 5-of-10 from beyond the arc) for 23 points. Coty Clarke tallied a double-double with 16 points and 14 rebounds, Bobby Portis logged 14 points and seven boards, while Alandise Harris and Michael Qualls poured in 11 and 10 points, respectively.
The Razorbacks have grown accustomed to high point totals this season, as it shoots 47.6 percent from the field for 84.5 ppg (15th in the nation), while also boasting an outstanding scoring defense (67.9 ppg) and turnover margin (+6.3). Nobody scores more than Qualls' 12.7 ppg, but in total 10 players contribute at least 3.3 ppg to the deep bench. Portis (12.5 ppg) brings in a team-best 6.3 rpg, Madden (11.2 ppg) shoots 56.7 percent from the field and Harris scored 10.4 ppg.