Arkansas vs Kentucky CBB Hoops Handicapping
The Razorbacks beat the Wildcats in overtime earlier this season, and will look to improve their chances of an NCAA Tournament berth by doing it again, when No. 18 Kentucky host unranked Arkansas on Thursday. [ad-4468020]
Date/Time: 7 p.m. EST, Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014
Venue: Rupp Arena, Lexington, Kentucky
Spread: -10.5 Kentucky
Arkansas (18-9) arrive at Rupp Arena riding a three-game win streak, which includes 73-69 win over Mississippi State last time out.
Anthlon Bell scored a career-high 19 points off the bench and Michael Qualls added 15 for Arkansas, which improved to .500 in SEC play.
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Qualls was the hero for the Razorbacks in their win over the Wildcats back on Jan. 14, jamming home the winning bucket with .2 seconds remaining in overtime. It was
The Wildcats have gone 9-2 since that setback but needed overtime again to scrape past LSU 77-76 on Saturday. Kentucky still has an outside shot at a share of the SEC regular-season title but would need to win its last four games and have undefeated Florida somehow stumble into a losing streak to close things out.
Since then the Razorbacks have rebounded from a dismal start to conference play, letting their full-court defense open up opportunities on the other end.
Arkansas forced 17 turnovers in that first meeting with Kentucky, making up for a 50-32 disadvantage on the boards.
Qualls has gotten better over that time, while scoring in double figures in each of his last five contests.
Meanwhile, Kentucky (21-6) has only lost once in its last seven, but got a sort of wakeup call on Saturday, narrowly escaping with a 77-76 overtime when over Louisiana State.
Julius Randle led the way for the Wildcats, pouring in 25 points and grabbing 13 boards, inclsuing a big rebound and the final bucket the waning seconds of the game.
The freshman forward, who earned SEC and National Player of the Week honors, talloed 20 points and 14 rebounds in the Arkansas game, draining 10-of-14 from the free-throw line before fouling out.
Free Pick: Kentucky
This will be a good game, pitting the first and second highest scoring teams in the SEC.
And while the Razorbacks will rely on their tight defense, the Wildcats high-octane offense and ridiculoous home court advantage will be the difference maker in this one.