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The ‘Cats entered their matchup against No. 24 Arkansas as losers of 4 of their last 5 games to go along with an 8-5 record on the season. When the final buzzer sounded Sunday afternoon at Memorial Coliseum, the ‘Cats had fallen in 5 of their last 6 games as the Razorbacks skated past the ‘Cats 71-50. The game served as the ‘Cats first home SEC game of the year after falling on the road last Thursday night in a close game with Missouri, 74-71. Arkansas also fell in their first SEC game of the season when they took on No. 9 LSU and fell 69-45. The Razorbacks entered Sunday’s game with a 13-3 record on the season, coming into Lexington with three consecutive losses. Arkansas is ranked No. 43 in the latest NET rankings. The ‘Cats clocked in at No. 94. Four Razorbacks average double figures on the season in Samara Spencer (15.8 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 4.2 APG), Erynn Barnum (14.8 PPG, 6.4 RPG), Makayla Daniels (13.3 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 3.1 APG), and Chrissy Carr (13.2 PPG, 4.3 RPG). The ‘Cats best offensive contributors are Robyn Benton (15.3 PPG), Jada Walker (14.0 PPG, 4.0 APG), and Maddie Scherr (7.6 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 6.2 APG). Benton was considered a game-time decision for Sunday’s game due to a finger injury and did not play against Arkansas. Some keys to the game for the ‘Cats were limiting turnovers (16.8 per game), three-point shooting (26.3% on the season), post presence, and display a strong rebounding effort versus the Razorbacks (Arkansas averages 42.7 RPG, Kentucky averages 36.1 RPG).

With Benton out, Coach Elzy started Scherr, Walker, King, Green, and Leveretter.

Game Recap:

The game started with a Kentucky turnover and a Razorback layup for the first points of the game. Scherr responded for the ‘Cats with an and-one opportunity, but missed the free-throw. Both teams started with a fast pace on offense, running a quick offensive scheme with plenty of transition chances down the court. Walker hit two early layups in response to a couple of Arkansas buckets, leaving the score tied at 6. Blair Green picked up her second foul of the game just 3-minutes into the game. Throughout a short 2:21-minute Arkansas scoring drought, the only points the ‘Cats could muster were two Scherr free-throws that gave the ‘Cats a 8-6 lead. The score at the media timeout, following an and-one opportunity for the Razorbacks, was 8-8. A lengthy 5:33-minute scoring drought for the ‘Cats coupled with a 10-0 Razorbacks run brought the score to 16-8 at the end of the first quarter. The quarter was whistle filled thanks to 10 combined foul calls (6-4 UK) and 16 combined turnovers. The ‘Cats turnover problems continued with 10 first quarter turnovers.

Green started the second quarter for the ‘Cats despite her two early fouls. The Razorbacks started the quarter where they left off in the first, scoring the first 6 points to bring their lead to 22-8 with 7:03 to play in the half. The ‘Cats interior defense was nearly non-existent throughout stretches early in the game, leaving the Arkansas frontcourt with numerous easy layups. The ‘Cats first points in over 8-minutes came in the form of back-to-back Petty layups that brought the score to 22-12. The ‘Cats ended another 5-minute scoring drought via a King layup off a Scherr assist in transition. Over the course of that scoring drought, Arkansas again went on a 10-0 run to push their lead to 32-12. Green rattled off her first 5-points of the game to end the half, leaving the score at 34-19 Razorbacks at halftime. The ‘Cats shot just 28% from the field in the half and were outrebounded 24-19. The ‘Cats also committed 14 first half turnovers as they struggled to get any form of offense rolling in the half. Green led the way for the ’Cats in first half scoring with her late 5-points.

The first points of the second half came from a Walker layup that brought the score to 34-21. After another Walker layup narrowed the lead to 11, the Razorbacks responded with back-to-back three-pointers and a layup to stretch the lead to 19, 42-23. An 18-2 Arkansas run over the course of 6-minutes pushed the Razorbacks lead to 27 by a score of 52-25 with 2:32 left to play in the third quarter. The score at the end of the third quarter was 53-28 Arkansas.

The first points of the fourth quarter came via a Green mid-range jumper that brought the score to 53-30 Razorbacks. The ‘Cats began the final frame attacking the basket with consistency, converting two layups and hitting four free-throws to help Kentucky start the quarter on a 8-2 run. After those early 8-points, the ‘Cats went on a mini scoring drought for a couple of minutes. After a Leveretter free-throw ended that drought, the score sat at 59-37 Arkansas with 5:42 left to play. A barrage of Razorback turnovers and ‘Cats free-throws brought the lead down to 18 at 59-41 with 4:30 to play. The ‘Cats played with more energy throughout the final quarter, pressuring on defense and driving the ball to the pain, resulting in 14 fourth quarter free-throw opportunities. The score with 2:44 remaining was 64-46 Arkansas. The ‘Cats ended the game on over a 2-minute scoring drought before hitting the final bucket before the buzzer. Still, the ‘Cats fell for the 5th time in their last 6 games by a final score of 71-50 Arkansas.

The Razorbacks shot 42% from the field (32% from three-point range). The ‘Cats shot a mere 26% from the field and just 14% from beyond the arc. The ‘Cats rebounded well and finished the game tied with the Razorbacks with 41 team rebounds each. The ‘Cats struggled to protect the ball once again Sunday afternoon, committing 23 turnovers. Green led the ‘Cats in scoring with 14 points while Walker added 13 points. Scherr led the rebounding and facilitating effort with 10 rebounds and 3 assists. Adeyeye had the best plus/minus total in the game for Kentucky, posting a +/- of 0 in 14-minutes of action.

The ‘Cats next matchup is Thursday, January 5th when they hit the road to take on the Georgia Bulldogs in Athens with tip scheduled for 7:00 p.m. The game will be televised on the SEC Network.

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