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Big Blueprint: Arkansas ends UK's three-game winning streak

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UK fell to 5-7 away from Rupp Arena with a 73-60 loss at Arkansas on Saturday. (Chet White, UK Athletics) UK fell to 5-7 away from Rupp Arena with a 73-60 loss at Arkansas on Saturday. (Chet White, UK Athletics)
The Big Blueprint is back. A rapid recap of the game, the Big Blueprint looks at the nuts and bolts of the latest UK game when Cat Scratches is not in attendance. Tonight, Kentucky's 73-60 loss at Arkansas.

The skinny:
When UK got out to an 11-4 lead a little more than four minutes into the first half, the Wildcats seemed on their way to overcoming a hostile road crowd and an Arkansas team that rarely loses at home. Instead, the Razorbacks surged ahead by halftime and put the hammer down in the second half to send UK to a 73-60 defeat, ending its three-game winning streak. UK falls to 20-9 on the season with the loss and 11-5 in Southeastern Conference play, while Arkansas improves to 18-11 (9-7 SEC), including 17-1 at Bud Walton Arena. UK joins likely NCAA Tournament teams Florida, Missouri and Oklahoma as teams to lose on the road at Arkansas.

The difference:
Turnovers and rebounding. You don't have to do much box-score digging to diagnose the Cats' problems on Saturday. Buoyed by a raucous environment, the Hogs were the aggressors all day, even when their shots weren't falling. The Arkansas pressure forced UK into 19 turnovers - a season high for the Cats - and the Razorbacks scored 30 points off turnovers to Kentucky's two. Arkansas also used 20 offensive rebounds to take a 44-37 edge on the glass. As a result of those two factors, the Razorbacks attempted 69 shots to UK's 43, overcoming the fact that UK shot 46.5 percent from the field to Arkansas' 34.8.

Player of the game:
Coty Clarke. Marshawn Powell led the Hogs with 15 points, but Clarke had a monopoly on pretty much every other category. To go with his 14 points on just five shots, Clarke had 12 rebounds, six assists and three of Arkansas' 11 steals.

Turning point:
In spite of plenty of issues over the first 20 minutes, Alex Poythress hit two free throws on the first possession of the second half to cut the Arkansas lead to 32-31. Arkansas, however, answered with an 11-0 run over the next 2:20 to create a margin the Hogs would never relinquish. The Cats trailed by at least five the rest of the way and by double figures for most of it.

Key stat: Bench production. Turnovers and rebounding are clearly the two biggest statistical reasons for this UK loss, but don't dismiss Arkansas' depth as a reason for that. Ten different Razorbacks played double-digit minutes to seven for UK. Archie Goodwin, Willie Cauley-Stein (13 points, 10 rebounds, four blocks) and Julius Mays all played at least 36 minutes while no Hog played more than 28. Arkansas also got 24 points from its bench to 11 for UK.

Unsung hero: Goodwin. John Calipari acknowledged on Friday that it would not be easy for Goodwin as he returned to play in his home state. But with approximately 40 family members and friends in attendance, Goodwin was UK's most consistent performer. He had a team-best 14 points on 5-of-8 shooting and added five rebounds, two assists and a steal even as he was the subject of fans' negative attention all game long.

Postgame interviews

Coach Cal

Goodwin, Cauley-Stein

What this one means:
Without question, Saturday was a subpar performance for the Cats. They didn't prove that they had turned the corner once and for all as they wanted to, but they also didn't undo all of their good work from their previous three outings. A win would have made UK feel relatively secure about its NCAA Tournament chances, but with two regular-season games and the SEC Tournament still left, the Cats aren't out of those types of opportunities. UK will return home to Lexington on Saturday night and turn its attention to a Wednesday trip to Georgia.

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