- Sunday, February 25 2001 -
Kentucky - 78 (Head Coach: Orlando Smith) - [Ranked 13th by AP]
|J. P. Blevins||11||1||1||0||0||2||2||1||0||1||0||1||0||0||1||4|
Arkansas - 82 (Head Coach: Nolan Richardson) - [Unranked]
Halftime Score: Kentucky 47, Arkansas 41
|Prior Game|||||Next Game|
|Louisiana State 84 - 61|||||Auburn 90 - 78|
Game Writeup - Written by and courtesy of Stephen John; Kentucky Sports Report, (All Rights Reserved)
Hogs Come Back, Win
The Arkansas Razorbacks used a 27-15 run in the first 7:30 minutes of the second half to turn a six-point halftime deficit into a 68-62 lead, and then held off the Wildcats the rest of the way. Arkansas shot 56% from the field in the 2nd half (including 6-9 from three point range) to seal the victory. Joe Johnson and Jannero Pargo led a balanced attack as Nolan Richardson's club escaped with an 82-78 win.
"It was an up tempo game, both teams ran and they applied a lot of pressure," freshman Erik Daniels (who had 11 points and five rebounds in 18 minutes) said, "It is such a tough place play. This is a tough crowd and Arkansas plays so well here. However, this (the Kentucky program) is still the best program in the nation. It is always difficult on the road to win in the SEC."
It was Arkansas' pressure and hot 2nd half shooting that eventually did in the Cats. The loss left the Wildcats (18-8, 11-3 SEC) with a slim one game lead in the SEC East race with two games remaining in the regular season.
Kentucky, which came into the game as the hottest shooting team in the SEC, was flat from the field, shooting just 4-19 (21%) from three-point range. Kentucky shot just 38% from the field for the game and were 1-12 from three-point range in the second half. "We got 23 offensive rebounds and outrebounded Arkansas 54-39 tonight but we really didn't do enough with those rebounds. We just missed some shots tonight," Coach Smith said, "It's disappointing when you can't finish or get fouled or something."
The Razorbacks, on the other hand, were hot from the outside, sizzling the nets with 10 three pointers in 21 attempts. Arkansas' Jannero Pargo and Charles Tatum combined for 6-10 from beyond the arc. Kentucky got only four points in the second half from their two leading scorers, Prince and Bogans. And the two starts combined for five turnovers for the half.
"In the second half our shots weren't falling and the pressure got to us a little bit," said Erik Daniels. Coach Tubby Smith agreed, "They really turned up the heat in the second half. Keith didn't scored in the entire half and Tayshaun only had one bucket and that was within seconds of the start of the half. Our veteran players have got to step up and play well in these types of games. And we didn't get that in key spots today."
Arkansas attacked the basket and used pressure to rattle Kentucky. In the key run in the second half, the Hogs got baskets from TJ Cleveland, Brandon Dean, Alonzo Lane, Carl Baker, Joe Johnson and Charles Tatum. To cap off the run, a field goal by Teddy Gipson gave the Hogs the lead at 61-60 at the 12:27 mark of the second half. A three-pointer by Pargo and a bucket by Johnson extended the lead to 66-60, a lead from which Kentucky would never recover.
Every time the Wildcats would try to even the game, Arkansas seemed to have an answer, and mostly that answer came from the outside.
Keith Bogans came out firing to open the game and scored all of his 17 points in the first half, helping the Cats build a 6 point halftime lead. Prince hit two free throws at the 7:39 mark to pull the Cats to within 3 points at 71-68, but Teddy Gipson answered with a three-pointer. Estill would later pull the Cats within striking distance at 76-72, but in perhaps the biggest shot of the night, Pargo hit a clutch three-pointer at the 1:22 mark that effectively ended Kentucky's chance to win it's 9th straight game. Pargo, the player of the game, iced the outcome at the end with two free throws.
"I gotta give Kentucky their due. They are extremely good," Jannero Pargo said, "they have big guards and can see over the top of the trap. We were focused on attacking the basket and then kicking the ball out for open shots. Charles (Tatum) and I were able to do that. Defensively, we know that it's harder to shoot on the road, so we tried hard to take away their inside game and make them take shots from the outside."
"We are having a problem defending people off the dribble," said Tubby Smith, "One of the reasons we have troubles getting out on the shooters against a team like Arkansas is that they have players that can all put the ball on the floor and penetrate and it really creates a lot of problems."
For Kentucky, Bogans led the Cats with 17 points, Prince had 14 points to go with his 10 rebounds, and freshman Erik Daniels chipped in with 11 points.
"Arkansas' whole objective is to put pressure on you, be physical and wear you down," Coach Smith said, "Tayshaun and Keith struggled with that a bit and they probably got a little tired. We have to have a better game plan against that. We played Prince and Bogans 36 and 34 minutes tonight and that's just too much against that kind of pressure. But we got into foul trouble early and that really limited us in what we could do."
Kentucky's next game is senior night in Rupp Arena on Wednesday against Auburn. Saul Smith will be honored as the team's only senior. If Kentucky wins that game, they will become the automatic #1 seed from the SEC East in the upcoming SEC Tournament.
"This game is a must," Coach Smith said, "Auburn is a team that is similar to Arkansas in some respects. They love to spread the floor and wear you down. They have some good shooters. We are going to have to come in with a solid game plan."
"There's no guarantees in the SEC," Erik Daniels said, "we are going to have to go out there and play tough." "Our bench is really outstanding," Coach Smith said, "they probably should have played more tonight."