Preview: Kentucky basketball's opponents in the week ahead

January 15, 2012 

Arkansas Razorbacks

Tuesday

Rupp Arena

(9 p.m., ESPN)

About the opponent

Location: Fayetteville, Ark.

Enrollment: 19,849

School colors: Cardinal and White

Conference: Southeastern

Coach: Mike Anderson

2011-12 record: 13-4 overall, 2-1 SEC

2010-11 record: 18-13 overall, 7-9 SEC (Third place in Western Division)

All-time vs. UK: 8-24

Last meeting: Arkansas won 77-76 in overtime on Feb. 23, 2011, in Fayetteville, Ark.

Outlook: The Razorbacks gave up on John Pelphrey after four seasons and looked to its glory days for help. Anderson was Nolan Richardson's assistant during Arkansas' three Final Four appearances in the 1990s and is trying to rejuvenate the Hogs with those teams' fast-paced style. Anderson's rebuilding job has been helped by a group of talented freshmen recruited by Pelphrey — the nation's ninth-ranked class — led by point guard B.J. Young (14.8 points per game) and power forward Hunter Mickelson (2.5 blocks per game). Junior forward Marshawn Powell (19.5 ppg) recently returned from an injury to add to the Razorbacks' depth, which includes 10 players who average a minimum of 14.9 minutes per game. Arkansas has split its two games against ranked opponents, falling at No. 17 Connecticut 75-62 on Dec. 3 and beating No. 20 Mississippi State 98-88 on Jan. 7.

Alabama Crimson Tide

Saturday

Rupp Arena (Noon, CBS-27)

About the opponent

Location: Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Enrollment: 30,232

School colors: Crimson and White

Conference: Southeastern

Coach: Anthony Grant

2011-12 record: 13-4 overall, 2-1 SEC

2010-11 record: 25-12 overall, 12-4 SEC (First place in Western Division). Lost to Wichita State 66-57 in NIT championship game.

All time vs. UK: 66-146

Last meeting: Kentucky won 72-58 on March 12, 2011, in semifinals of SEC Tournament in Atlanta.

Outlook: Grant combines a veteran core led by JaMychal Green (14.2 ppg, 6.8 rebounds per game), Tony Mitchell (14.9 ppg, 7.4 rpg) and Trevor Releford (12.8 ppg, 3.2 assists per game) with a top-five recruiting class topped by onetime UK target Trevor Lacey (7.4 ppg). The Tide had won five straight before losing Saturday at No. 20 Mississippi State. Next up is a visit from Vanderbilt on Thursday before its trip to Kentucky.

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