Matt Jones is the online sports editor for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and Northwest Arkansas Newspapers.
Qualls sinks Kentucky
Last-second slam gives Arkansas first SEC win
Michael Qualls celebrates following Arkansas' 87-85 overtime win over No. 13 Kentucky on Thursday at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE Michael Qualls had a putback dunk with 0.2 seconds remaining to give Arkansas an 87-85 overtime win over No. 13 Kentucky on Thursday at Bud Walton Arena.
Qualls' dunk came after a James Young 3-pointer tied the game for the Wildcats with 10.2 seconds remaining in overtime. Qualls followed up a missed 3-pointer by Rashad Madden to give the Razorbacks their first Southeastern Conference win this season and first back-to-back wins over Kentucky since 2001.
The Wildcats (12-4, 2-1 SEC) sent the game to overtime when Andrew Harrison hit a 3-pointer to tie the game 74-74 with 1.2 seconds left in regulation. Alandise Harris had given Arkansas the lead with a basket and free throw with 9.5 seconds left in regulation.
It nearly looked like deja vu for the Razorbacks (12-4, 1-2 SEC), who had lost in overtime to No. 10 Florida on Saturday. Arkansas led late in that game, but a Scottie Wilbekin basket with 2 seconds left in regulation allowed the Gators to come from behind and snap the Razorbacks' 23-game home win streak.
The start of a new win streak came in the most dramatic fashion ever at the 20-year-old arena. Young and Andrew Harrison failed to box out for Kentucky and Qualls skied for the rebound, throwing down a two-handed dunk to send an announced crowd of 18,886 into a frenzy.
Arkansas players rushed to the student section to celebrate, but officials added 0.2 seconds to the clock. Kentucky was unable to get off a shot following Qualls' heroics.
Qualls finished with 18 points - six of which came in overtime - to tie Madden for the team-high Tuesday. Harris had 12 points for Arkansas and Bobby Portis scored 11 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.
Young led Kentucky with 23 points. Julius Randle added 20 points and 14 rebounds, and Aaron Harrison scored 16 points.
The Razorbacks forced 17 turnovers but committed only six. Arkansas scored 21 points off the Wildcats' miscues and outscored Kentucky's bench 29-17.
The two teams combined to commit 60 personal fouls and shoot 81 free throws. Kentucky made 26 of 40 free throws, while Arkansas hit 29 of 41 free throw attempts.
The Razorbacks led by as many as nine points in the first half but were up only 43-41 at halftime. The two teams exchanged leads 10 times and the game was tied 18 times.
Arkansas and Kentucky will play again Feb. 27 at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky. The Razorbacks play again Saturday at Georgia.