Sunday, March 3, 2013

Arkansas 73 - 60 Kentucky

So far in the SEC Season, home teams have won 68.8 percent of all conference games.  That's the same percentage as the ACC.  By contrast, home teams win only 58.8 percent of the time in Big East, and only 58.3 percent of the time in the Pac-10.  To my mind, that's pretty compelling evidence that the officials in the SEC and ACC are favoring home teams in a way that you just don't see elsewhere.  I think the officiating in the SEC has played a big part this year, as the league is full of teams that are virtually unbeatable at home, but much weaker on the road.  Look at the four teams where UK has lost SEC road games:

1.  Florida is 8-0 in SEC home games, and 5-3 on the road.
2.  Tennessee is 6-2 in SEC home games, and 3-5 on the road.
3.  Alabama is 8-0 in SEC home games, and 3-5 on the road.
4.  Arkansas is 8-0 in SEC home games, and 1-7 on the road.

Together, those teams are 30-2 at home in conference play, but 12-20 on the road.

So, realistically, UK had very little chance to win this game yesterday.  We couldn't beat Arkansas in Arkansas in 2011, when they were about to fire their coach and we were about to go the Final Four.  So it wasn't likely we would beat them now that they have Mike Anderson as their coach, and we have a bunch of young guys who don't yet know how to win this type of game.  As it was, we lost by 13 points, not much worse than Florida, who went down 80-69 in Arkansas a few weeks ago.

That doesn't mean that the Cats played well -- they didn't.  They had 19 turnovers, and they allowed Arkansas to get 20 offensive rebounds.  As a result, the Razorbacks took 69 shots, while we had only 43.  You aren't going to win too many games where the other team takes 26 more shots than you do.  You also aren't going to win too many games when you go 3-14 from three-point range, as the Cats did yesterday.

On the UK message board yesterday, there was a big argument about whether the officials -- who allowed Arkansas to be much more aggressive than UK -- had affected Kentucky's energy level.  I have no doubt this is true.  But the officials are what they are, and it's disappointing that the Cats haven't been better at playing through that type of adversity.

So it's on to Georgia, where we have to hope the Cats will play better.  For the record, the Bulldogs are 5-3 at home, and 3-5 on the road.  They also just ended UT's six-game winning streak with an easy 78-68 win in Athens on Saturday.  In short, this will be a very, very tough game, and I am not optimistic.

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