Despite a 20-9 run in the last six minutes, Kentucky was unable to come out victorious tonight against Arkansas in Rupp Arena.
This loss was unlike many other defeats in this season for the Cats, as they actually executed down the stretch in order to give them a chance to win. Coming into the night, they had been outscored by 40 points in the final four minutes throughout the season. Against the Razorbacks, however, they continued to play hard each minute and even took an 80-79 lead after a triple from Davion Mintz with 20 seconds to go.
Unfortunately, in another series of bad luck, Arkansas guard Jalen Tate was fouled by Jacob Toppin with 4.3 seconds left in what seemed like a clean block by the Rhode Island transfer, and then Tate proceeded to knock down two free throws in which put the Hogs up 81-80 and gave them a victory.
Thus, it was an absolutely brutal loss for Kentucky in a season of total brutality. UK Head Coach John Calipari was clearly frustrated after the game given their inability to pull out a big win, but also felt the team took a step forward in how they finished.
“This team, that’s the best we’ve finished a game, so I can’t be upset,” he said.
What propelled Kentucky back into the game was their prolific three-point shooting. They shot 14/26 from downtown, 5/8 in the second half. Grad transfer Olivier Sarr was dominant in the pick-and-pop, finishing with 13 points (11 in the 2nd half) on 4/9 shooting from the floor including 3/5 from three. Freshman guard BJ Boston also posted a team-high 17 points on 6/10 shooting from the floor (4/5 from three) and added seven rebounds.
The Cats also outrebounded Arkansas 42-33 despite the Hogs coming in first in the SEC with 42 rebounds per game themselves, so their were good signs from the team in white tonight.
With that said, it was UK’s first loss to Arkansas since 2014 and only second while putting up 80 points in Rupp Arena in the John Calipari era, further invoking sighs across the Bluegrass State.