First Scouting Report: Can Kentucky end its losing ways vs. Arkansas?

A look ahead to the Kentucky Wildcats’ next men’s basketball game:

The opponent

Kentucky (16-7, 7-3 SEC) will face Arkansas (16-7, 5-5 SEC) on Tuesday, Feb. 7, at Rupp Arena (capacity 20,545) at Central Bank Center in downtown Lexington:

The game will tip off at 9 p.m. (EST) and be telecast by ESPN.

Coach Eric Musselman and the Razorbacks narrowly escaped what would have been a horrible loss with a 65-63 victory at South Carolina on Saturday afternoon.

Series history

Kentucky leads the all-time series with Arkansas 33-13 but the Razorbacks have won the past two meetings.

As UK head man, John Calipari is 10-6 vs. Arkansas.

Arkansas Coach Eric Musselman is 2-1 against UK.

Most recent meeting

J.D. Notae scored 30 points and dished out eight assists and Jaylin Williams had 16 points and 12 rebounds as Arkansas overcame a monster showing from Oscar Tshiebwe (30 points, 18 rebounds, three blocked shots) to edge Kentucky 75-73 on Feb. 26, 2022, before 19,200 fans at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville.

A big game from Oscar Tshiebwe (34), 30 points, 18 rebounds and three blocked shots, was not enough to lead Kentucky to a victory last season at Arkansas. The Razorbacks beat the Wildcats 75-73 at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville.
A big game from Oscar Tshiebwe (34), 30 points, 18 rebounds and three blocked shots, was not enough to lead Kentucky to a victory last season at Arkansas. The Razorbacks beat the Wildcats 75-73 at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville.

Power rankings

The NCAA NET rankings have Arkansas No. 27, Kentucky No. 31.

In the Pomeroy ratings, Arkansas is No. 20, Kentucky is No. 34.

The Sagarin ratings have Arkansas No. 22, Kentucky No. 29.

Know your foe

1. Arkansas has been a horrid road team so far in 2022-23. After Saturday’s escape at South Carolina, the Razorbacks are 1-5 in contests played on the home court of opponents.

Hogs fans are hoping that Arkansas can unleash the same stirring stretch run that Eric Musselman’s team has launched in each of the past two seasons in February. Counting Saturday’s win over South Carolina, the Razorbacks are a combined 14-1 in February contests over the past three years.

Arkansas Coach Eric Musselman, right, has won the past two times his team has faced Kentucky Coach John Calipari, left, and the Wildcats.
Arkansas Coach Eric Musselman, right, has won the past two times his team has faced Kentucky Coach John Calipari, left, and the Wildcats.

2. Like Kentucky, Arkansas has work to do to enhance its NCAA Tournament profile. The Razorbacks will come to Lexington 1-5 in Quad One games, while UK is 1-6. Assuming the Razorbacks are still in the top 30 of the NET rankings at tip-off in Rupp Arena, Tuesday night’s contest will be a Quad 1 opportunity for both teams.

3. Arkansas has lost two key players to injury. Forward Trevon Brazile (11.8 points, 6.0 rebounds), a transfer from Missouri, was lost for the season after nine games due to a torn ACL.

Lavishly hyped freshman Nick Smith (12.8 points, 1.8 rebounds) has played only five games due to an unspecified knee injury. Expected to be a high pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, Smith’s playing status for the remainder of the season is unclear. ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla opined during the Razorbacks’ loss at Baylor in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge that Smith would not return this season and will, instead, prepare for the NBA Draft.

In the absence of Brazile and Smith, Wichita State transfer Ricky Council IV (17.3 points, 3.2 rebounds), junior returnee Davonte Davis (10.9 points, 4.2 rebounds) and heralded freshmen Anthony Black (12.5 points, 5.3 rebounds) and Jordan Walsh (7.4 points, 3.7 rebounds) have become the core players for the 2022-23 Hogs.

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