Soaring, Roaring Finish
UA's Qualls slams door on Kentucky in OT
LEFT: Arkansas' Michael Qualls celebrates following Arkansas' 87-85 overtime win over No. 13 Kentucky at Bud Walton Arena on Jan. 14, 2014. RIGHT: Qualls dunks the basketball with 0.2 seconds remaining in overtime to give the Razorbacks the go-ahead score.
FAYETTEVILLE - Arkansas sophomore Michael Qualls’ dunk beat the buzzer and Kentucky.
The Razorbacks’ 6-6 guard raced past Kentucky freshman James Young, caught a missed three-point attempt by Ky Madden and dunked it on the way down with 0.2 seconds left in overtime to lift Arkansas to an 87-85 victory over No. 13 Kentucky on Tuesday night before a raucous crowd of 18,886 at Walton Arena.
“It was an unbelievable finish,” Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson said. “He made a great play. That’s how I saw it. It’s fortunate for us he was playing for the Razorbacks.
“What an athletic play. That’s something I wish I could say I teach it, but I do encourage our guy to go to the glass.”
Qualls said that type of situation is the best time to crash the boards.
“Everyone is just clinching their shirt, hoping he doesn’t hit the three,” Qualls said. “I just saw the opportunity and took it.”
Young, who led Kentucky with 23 points, admitted that he should have blocked out Qualls but was caught watching Madden’s miss.
“That was my fault,” Young said. “I stopped playing until the last second.”
Kentucky Coach John Calipari agreed.
“My guy watched, and that kid ran by him and dunked it,” said Calipari, whose team couldn’t get off a shot after Qualls’ game-winner. “He’s a freshman. That’s what freshmen do.”
Madden led the Razorbacks (12-4, 1-2 SEC) with 18 points. Qualls had 16, junior forward Alandise Harris 12, freshman forward Bobby Portis 11 and senior guard Fred Gulley nine.
Freshman forward Julius Randle scored 20 points for the Wildcats (12-4, 2-1), and freshman guard Aaron Harrison scored 16.
Portis and Qualls each hit two free throws in the final 26.7 seconds of overtime to give the Razorbacks an 85-82 lead. Young then hit a three-pointer with 10.2 seconds left to tie it at 85-85.
“It was a heck of a ballgame with two teams going at it toe to toe,” Anderson said. “To our guys’ credit, they showed some resilience. They really wanted this game, and they found a way to get it.”
Andrew Harrison hit a three-point basket to tie it at 74-74 with 1.2 seconds left in regulation.
Arkansas called a timeout to try and set up a game-winning play, but Alandise Harris’ long pass went off a Kentucky player and out of bounds, sending the game to overtime.
Harris put the Razorbacks ahead 74-71 with a three-point play with 9.5 seconds left in regulation. He drove the lane with the shot clock running down and scored as he was fouled by Willie Cauley-Stein, then hit a free throw
Randle hit 1 of 2 free throws to tie itat 71-71 with 1:36 left and give Kentucky its first point since Poythress’ dunk at the 5:25 mark.
Qualls hit 1 of 2 free throws to put Arkansas ahead 71-70 with 3:17 left.
Madden hit a three-pointer to tie it 70-70 with 5:09 left before Kentucky took a 70-67 lead on a Poythress dunk.
Randle hit two free throws to give Kentucky a 66-65 lead with 7:45 left. Qualls then tied it, hitting 1 of 2 free throws at the 7:30 mark.
Madden hit a three-pointer and Gulley scored on a drive to give Arkansas a 52-45 lead with 17:42 left.
Arkansas took a 43-41 lead into halftime on two free throws by Kikko Haydar with 13.5 seconds left in the first half.
Kentucky called a timeout with 10 seconds left to set up a play, but the Wildcats couldn’t get off a shot when Poythress lost the ball and it went out of bounds as the first half ended.
It was the second consecutive overtime game for the Razorbacks. They had their 23-game home winning streak stopped last Saturday in an 84-82 overtime loss to Florida.
Tuesday night was widely seen as a must-win situation for the Razorbacks, considering their next two games are on the road at Georgia and Tennessee. Arkansas is 2-19 in road games during Anderson’s three seasons.
Anderson now has a 3-2 record as a head coach against Kentucky, including an NCAA Tournament victory when he was Alabama-Birmingham.
Arkansas, which beat Kentucky 73-60 in Walton Arena last season, has won back-to-back games against the Wildcats for the first time since the 2000-2001 season. The Razorbacks beat the Wildcats during the 2000-2001 season in Fayetteville after beating them in the 2000 SEC Tournament in Atlanta.
Sports, Pages 19 on 01/15/2014