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Kentucky finds the Herro it needs to rally to beat Arkansas

Tyler Herro (UK Athletics Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

When Kentucky needed a hero, it found one in freshman Tyler Herro.

Kentucky trailed Arkansas by 15 points with 18 minutes to play here Tuesday night before rallying behind 29 points on 9-for-10 shooting from Herro to just get by Arkansas 70-66.

“Arkansas deserved to win the game,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said. “They came in here and played. They fought. We just happened to make a run and beat them. They deserved to win this game but I am happy for my team.”

Arkansas, which had lost five straight games, dominated the first 22 minutes of the game against the sluggish Cats before UK turned to Herro and defense to win the game.

The Razorbacks went scoreless for almost seven minutes to enable UK to take a 54-51 lead. The Razorbacks managed just six points in 11 minutes and were just 9-for-29 from the field in the second half.

“We came in as underdogs. We tried to make plays and we did. The second half we didn’t do what we did the first half,” Arkansas’ Desi Sills, who had 15 points and hit three 3-pointers, said.

Herro’s heroics included two clutch free throws with 5.4 seconds left to push the UK lead to 68-65 and Immanuel Quickley iced the game with two free throws with 1.3 seconds left.

“He is a great player,” Arkansas freshman Isaiah Joe said about Herro. “I had played against on adidas circuit. I knew what we would see and he delivered. Credit to him. We let him get going.

Joe got going in the first half when he had 16 points. He finished with 19 on 5-for-7 shooting from 3-point range.

“They definitely brought more intensity (defensively) in the second half and it took us too long to adjust,” Joe said. “They took the lead and by the time we got ourself together it was too late. The first half my teammates found me but the second half I let them down. But credit to their defense.”

Arkansas coach Mike Anderson said it was a combination of offensive breakdowns by his team and UK’s defense getting more aggressive in the second half that led to UK’s run.

“I thought we kind of panicked. You could see that with the shot clock running down. Kentucky is a great basketball team and you know they are going to make a run,” Anderson said. “You want your team to hang in there and not panic. But we kind of lost our cool a little bit.”

Anderson said his team’s defensive play was to “take away” PJ Washington — who had nine points and six rebounds — and UK’s inside game. But he was not surprised at what Herro did.

“He made shots tonight. They did a good job of finding him,” Anderson said. “In basketball if somebody takes away something, you take advantage of what they are doing. We were going to make PJ and those other guys work by scrambling our defense.”

Calipari said Herro’s defense was lacking and was one reason Arkansas hit so many 3-pointers.

“He was good. I didn’t know he had 29. He only shot 10 times. I didn’t know. Probably should have shot more balls,” Calipari said.

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  1. After getting benched early in the game, Tyler came back with focus, effort, and fight. He carried us tonight. Nick still needs to rebound with both hands, but 15 boards was huge along with 7 points. Keldon isn’t afraid to compete, but PJ disappeared tonight. 9 and 6 is a far cry from his past few games. Hopefully he will bear down and get back to his UT game form for Saturday.

  2. Sometimes a win not only doesn’t feel good and maybe not deserved. Tonight qualifies for one of those. Tyler was a 1 man wrecking ball and is establishing himself as one of Coach Mike’s Top 5 for OAD. That first half effort was just disgusting. PJ might have just played himself out of SEC POY tonight. He and we cannot afford any more single digit games at this stage of the season. He only took 5 shots in 32 mins. EJ is still the same….on freshman level you have Herro on one end and EJ on the other. Quickley seems to be playing himself into oblivion and Baker has never left.

    1. Nick was the man on the boards last night. He also hit a couple of key baskets. I said he was coming along slowly, and he is. You boys would have a point if UK had not rallied from 15 down to win this one.. Winning is all that counts. It’s a team sport. Can’t play lights out basketball every night out. I wish UK could, but it don’t happen. Ask Duke.

      1. UK is a team
        Duke is a one man show
        I hope we get a chance for revenge

  3. Pup…..Nick did have a better game but is still way below where he should be more 2 yrs and 100’s of practices in. I think he was 2-7 and that is terrible for all in close shots. He is fine with his hands above the rim but is not good below. He does not have good hands.

    1. Those hands looked pretty good to me pulling down all those rebounds. He’ll prove you wrong Mike before his playing days at UK are over. He is getting better each week.

  4. Nick did great him and Herro save our butt from the L column.

  5. Rebounds…above the rim..Blocks..above the rim. He is doing well above the rim, but he does not show good hands, or control, below. Nick seems like a great kid, and I hope he does prove me wrong soon. I know it is hard to believe, but I would be first to congratulate when that happens. I have been hard on both he and EJ, but I don’t think it is unfair to hold either to the 5* status they brought to the team.

  6. Really love Tyler’s overall game and his killer instinct. Unfortunately, I believe we only get to enjoy him for this year. The Sixer’s J.J. Redick makes approximately 12.4 million a year, is listed at 6′ 4″ , 200 lbs., and has career %s of FG-44.8, FT-89.1 and 3PT-41.3. Tyler is bigger at 6′ 5″, much better rebounder, as good or better defensive player, and a excellent mid range game that just is not seen too often in the pro ranks today. Mix in his 90% plus free throw shooting and if you are a GM in the NBA and don’t see the raw potential, then you need to look for another job. With the recent injury to ESPN’s college GOAT of the century, who would blame Tyler for not wanting to risk an injury. Going to enjoy him while I can.

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