#2 Kentucky vs Arkansas: Prediction

January 17th, 2012

ARKANSAS (13-4, 2-1 SEC) AT No. 2 KENTUCKY (17-1, 3-0 SEC)


Time/TV: 9 p.m./ESPN


Location: Rupp Arena


RPI Ratings: Arkansas 74 (No. 8 SEC); Kentucky 9 (No. 1 SEC).


Line: Kentucky -18.5 (Total: 143)


Arkansas Players to Watch: G B.J. Young, 6-3 Fr. (15 ppg, 3 rpg, 52.2% FG); G Julysses Nobles, 6-1 Jr. (9.4 ppg, 4 rpg, 3.6 apg); F Hunter Mickelson, 6-10 Fr. (4.6 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 2.8 bpg). Despite being just a freshman and playing just 16.6 minutes per game, Mickelson has proven to be a natural defensive talent. He’s averaging a blocked shot nearly every five minutes and has at least one in every game in his career.


Kentucky Players to Watch: F Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, 6-7 Fr. (13.4 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 49.4% FG); F Anthony Davis, 6-10 Fr. (13.1 ppg, 10.2 rpg, 4.6 bpg); F Terrence Jones, 6-9 So. (11.7 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 47.9% FG). Kidd-Gilchrist recorded his third career double-double with 17 points and 12 rebounds in Saturday’s 65-62 road win over Tennessee.


Storylines: Kentucky has won 10 straight games since its lone loss at Indiana and is tied atop the SEC with Vanderbilt at 3-0. Arkansas has been a bit of a surprise, especially without Marshawn Powell, at 12-4 overall and 2-1 in the SEC.


Keys: Kentucky is 44-0 at home under John Calipari. … Expect a lot of points in this one. Kentucky is averaging 79.3 points per game, while the Razorbacks score 76.9 per night. The Wildcats will love to try to match Arkansas’ fast-paced style. … Just about Arkansas’ only hope is that it can force freshman point guard Marquise Teague into a turnover machine. Teague is averaging over three turnovers per game, while the Razorbacks force 18.4 turnovers per outing. … Arkansas is a poor free throw shooting team at 69 percent. In their last two games, the Razorbacks are 25-of-45 from the charity stripe. … Arkansas has one of the deeper teams in the SEC. Mike Anderson’s squad has 10 players who play at least 16 minutes per game. Kentucky, on the other hand, has just six players who play 16 minutes or more. … Arkansas won the last meeting against Kentucky, 77-76 in overtime in Fayetteville last season, but the Razorbacks have lost eight straight at Rupp Arena. … Both teams are very young. Kentucky’s youth is obvious. Arkansas has three very talented freshmen in its rotations in Young, Mickelson and Devonta Abron. … Davis could wrack up the blocked shots in the game. He’s averaging 4.6 per game and the Razorbacks allow opponents to block 4.1 per contest.


The Bottom Line: Kentucky’s at home and Arkansas’ style plays right into its hands. This one will be over early.


The Pick: Kentucky 84, Arkansas 65.