After dropping four in a row earlier this month the Kentucky Wildcats seem to have managed to play their way into some form. Back to back wins over Alabama and Arkansas might not be all that impressive given where Kentucky normally stand as we head towards March, but this is a different year to most and they are two victories that the Wildcats sorely needed. Next up for Kentucky is a home game against Missouri.
Here are the three keys to this one:
Please start faster
There was a point in the early stages of this game where it felt like the Wildcats season was all but over.
Kentucky started as badly as it has at any point this year – and that alone is saying something given some of the miserable starts to games – falling behind 11-0 against a quality, senior-laden Arkansas squad on its own floor. Just how the Wildcats managed to recover from that position to outscore the Razorbacks 87-61 over the remainder of the game is anyone’s guess, but Kentucky cannot expect to keep getting out of holes like this.
It feels like this has been the key we have returned to the most this season, but as this Kentucky team begins to get ready for postseason play, they just cannot afford to fall behind against the better and better teams that they will face.
Get the key lineup rolling
If Kentucky is to make any sort of run in the NCAA Tournament it will be on the back of the Wildcats key lineup for the 2017-18 season. The Quade Green, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Kevin know, Jarred Vanderbilt, and PJ Washington quintet is going to have to star for Kentucky and do most – if not all – of the heavy lifting. Judging by this game against the Razorbacks, this crew is more than capable.
Knox scored 23 points against Arkansas. The three frontcourt players mentioned combined for 26 rebounds and were a huge part of Kentucky outrebounding Arkansas 46-29. The guards were aggressive when they needed to be and played tempo when required. Vanderbilt has breathed a new life into this team since returning from injury and getting comfortable in the system.
Watch to see how often this lineup is on the floor together against Missouri. It will be telling.
Play like this is the first meeting of the year
Kentucky and Missouri met in Columbia earlier this month. The result was a 69-60 victory for the Tigers. It was one of the most disappointing results of the season in a year containing plenty of them for the Wildcats.
Kentucky needs to pretend this game never happened.
Sure, they can take some aspects from it like making sure Jordan Barnett and Kassius Robertson don’t score 16 points each for the visitors, but Kentucky is in such a different place in terms of lineup and confidence from where they were just a few short weeks ago. There is no way that the Tigers will hold Kentucky to 60 points in Lexington, so this is one of those instances where it is better to forget the first game ever happened than to learn from the mistakes within it.