UALR-Kentucky Preview

Kentucky recorded its 44th consecutive home victory, the longest

active such streak in the nation, over the weekend behind a gritty

effort against one of the better teams in the country.

Their next matchup isn’t likely to provide the second-ranked

Wildcats with nearly as tough a challenge, as they face

Arkansas-Little Rock at Louisville’s Freedom Hall on Tuesday

night.

Kentucky (13-1) climbed one spot in the AP poll after a 69-62

victory over then-No. 4 Louisville on Saturday. The Wildcats were

held to 29.8 percent from the floor – their lowest mark in a win

since shooting 27.1 percent in a 52-50 victory over UCLA on Dec. 6,

2003.

“You have to understand I love this,” coach John Calipari said.

“You shoot 29 percent from the floor and you win. Let me make that

statement again. You shoot 29 percent from the floor and you win.

That’s a good day.”

After beating its archrival, Kentucky seems likely to have a

much easier go of it in its first meeting with the Trojans (5-10),

who could have trouble keeping up with Calipari’s star-studded

lineup. The Wildcats feature six players averaging double figures

in points and seem to have a star in the making in Michael

Kidd-Gilchrist.

The freshman standout posted season highs of 24 points and 19

rebounds versus the Cardinals, his best effort of an impressive

first campaign.

“I’m very shy, but I’m getting better. I just relax on the

basketball court,” said the 18-year-old forward, second on the team

with 14.2 points per game.

“This is me, this is what I live for right here. Why? I’ve

always been that way, I’ve got a lot of heart that’s why, and I’m

built for it. I didn’t surprise myself, I was confident about my

game.”

While Kidd-Gilchrist looks to build on his effort, Kentucky is

surely hoping to see sophomore Terrence Jones pick up the pace. In

his second game back following a two-game absence due to a finger

injury, Jones managed two points, though he added a season-best 11

rebounds in 30 minutes off the bench.

“Terrence took strides to come back. He was 1 for 9 and missed

seven one-foot shots … he’s just not all the way back yet,”

Calipari said.

“I think within the next week and a half, he’ll be fine.”

In addition to Jones’ struggles, Doron Lamb – averaging a

team-high 15.4 points – has fallen off the pace a bit. The

sophomore guard has totaled 31 points and shot 33.3 percent over

the last three contests.

Arkansas-Little Rock, which concludes a stretch of five

consecutive road games Tuesday, has won two in a row for just the

second time this season. Two days after defeating North Texas

69-66, the Trojans improved to 2-0 in Sun Belt play with a 66-59

victory over Denver on Saturday.

Forward Will Neighbour had 17 points and six rebounds and is

averaging 18.3 and 8.0 over his last three games. The 6-foot-10

sophomore, though, could be hard pressed to continue his recent

success with Anthony Davis likely to be guarding him.

Davis had six blocks for the second time in as many games

Saturday, giving him 64 on the season – most in the nation. He also

ranks second in the SEC with 10.2 rebounds per contest.