Mark Story

Instant analysis: Who’s up, who’s down after Kentucky’s comeback win over Arkansas

Instant analysis from No. 4 Kentucky’s 70-66 comeback win over Arkansas:

How the game was won

Tyler Herro scored 29 points and missed only one shot (9-of-10 field goals, 5-of-6 three-pointers, 6-of-6 free throws) and Kentucky used stifling defense to erase a 45-30 second-half deficit and rally to a tense victory over an Arkansas team that has now lost six straight games.

Game balls

1. Tyler Herro. Turned in one of the most offensively efficient masterpieces by a Kentucky player in recent years — and UK needed every bit of it.

2. Nick Richards. Seven points, 15 rebounds and three blocked shots in a game in which UK was again without the injured Reid Travis was huge.

3. Kentucky defense. Flat suffocated Arkansas over the final 15 minutes of the game.

4. Arkansas guards. Isaiah Joe (6-of-10 field goals, 5-of-7 three-pointers, 19 points for the game) and Desi Sills (4-8, 3-5, 15) lit the Cats up from three-point range in the first half.

Kentucky’s Jemarl Baker got caught between Arkansas defenders Reggie Chaney (35) and Keyshawn Embery-Simpson (11). Alex Slitz

Reasons for worry

1. Kentucky game approach. The Cats have gotten in the habit of often only playing one good half. Normally, it has been a sluggish second half after building a lead. Against Arkansas, it was digging a 39-28 first-half hole.

Either way, it is the kind of thing that can eventually catch up to a team.

2. UK turnovers. The 12 first-half miscues played a big role in putting the Cats in comeback mode.

3. Kentucky foul shooting. Was another area (22-of-32) that very easily could have bitten the Cats.

Key number(s)

Seven. After Mike Anderson started 3-1 against Kentucky as Arkansas coach, the Razorbacks head man has now lost seven in a row vs. UK.

The Cat-mosphere

1. UK student Jessica Bailey knocked out a stellar version of the national anthem.

2. Former Kentucky star Kenny Walker was the “Y.”

3. With the Cats down 15 early in the second half, the Rupp Arena crowd of 21,998 rose to the occasion and was LOUD throughout the rest of the game.

Up next

No. 4 Kentucky (24-4, 13-2 SEC) will travel to Knoxville to face No. 7 Tennessee (24-3, 12-2 SEC) at 2 p.m. (EST) Saturday, March 2, in Thompson-Boling Arena in a game that will be telecast by CBS.

The game is a rematch of Kentucky’s 86-69 victory over Tennessee on Feb. 16 in Rupp Arena that knocked UT from the No. 1 position in the Associated Press Top 25 poll.

Before facing the Wildcats, the Volunteers have a tough game at Mississippi (19-8, 9-5 SEC) on Wednesday at 7 p.m. (EST) in a contest that will be telecast by the SEC Network.

UK leads the all-time series with UT 155-71.

Know your foe

1. As Tennessee head coach, Rick Barnes is 3-0 vs. Kentucky in Knoxville. Barnes is 4-4 overall vs. UK at UT and 5-6 overall as a college head man against the Wildcats (1-1 at Clemson; 0-1 at Texas). John Calipari is 3-5 as Kentucky head man against Tennessee in Knoxville.

2. UT senior Admiral Schofield had 29 points and nine rebounds but the Volunteers fell 82-80 in overtime Saturday at LSU in an outcome that created a three-way tie (LSU, UK, UT) atop the SEC at 12-2.

3. PJ Washington had 23 points, Keldon Johnson 19 and Tyler Herro 15 points and 13 rebounds to pace the Wildcats past Tennessee in the teams’ initial meeting this season.


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Mark Story has worked in the Lexington Herald-Leader sports department since Aug. 27, 1990, and has been a Herald-Leader sports columnist since 2001. I have covered every Kentucky-Louisville football game since 1994, every UK-U of L basketball game but three since 1996-97 and every Kentucky Derby since 1994.