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Upset falls short
Kentucky's Kastine Evans (32) shoots between Arkansas' Jhasmin Bowen (42) and Jessica Jackson (00) during the second half of NCAA college basketball game, Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014, in Lexington, Ky. Kentucky won 68-58. (AP Photo/James Crisp)
LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Arkansas coach Tom Collen knew what to expect when Kentucky picked up the pace on defense.
The Wildcats (16-4, 4-3 Southeastern Conference) surprised the Razorbacks with a 2-3 zone to open the game but switched back to their man-to-man scheme in the second half that helped Kentucky erase a 10-point deficit and defeat Arkansas 68-58 Sunday at Memorial Coliseum.
"(Their defense) sped us up and got the crowd in the game," Collen said. "I've played here enough times, when they get sped up, they speed you up and the crowd starts roaring. Before you know it, it slides away from you pretty quick. I thought that was a key decision on their part. They got a much-needed win and we let one slip away."
Collen was surprised Kentucky used a zone against his squad.
"We never practice against the zone the entire week," Collen said. "We had no anticipation or thought they would do it. We watched them play a little bit of zone. That allowed us to stay with them. We shot the ball pretty well."
Jessica Jackson led the Razorbacks (15-5, 2-5) with 23 points.
"I think she's one of the best freshmen in the country," Collen said. "I started recruiting her when she was in the eighth-grade. She was a must-get for us and glad that we go her. She continues to get better game-in and game-out."
Jackson's three-point play and 3-pointer during a 12-3 run to open the second half gave the Razorbacks a 44-34 lead with 17:11 remaining.
That's when things fell apart for Arkansas.
Kentucky used an 11-2 run to pull within 46-45. Bria Goss scored five points during the spurt.
Arkansas kept the lead until a driving layup by Thompson and a basket by Samarie Walker gave the Wildcats a 53-50 lead with 8:36 remaining.
Thompson scored seven points in a 9-0 run by Kentucky that made it 56-50 lead. Arkansas closed the gap to 56-54 but a 3 by Jennifer O'Neill pushed the margin to 59-54 with 5:30 left.
O'Neill scored 21 points to lead three players in double figures and set the tone for the Wildcats with 16 points in the first half. O'Neill finished 8 of 12 from the field and made five of Kentucky's nine 3-pointers in the contest. Janee Thompson followed O'Neill with 13 points. Bria Goss added 10 for Kentucky and made a clutch 3-pointer with 2:14 remaining.
O'Neill scored five of Kentucky's first 12 points as the Wildcats raced to a 12-4 lead in the first 5 minutes.
"Getting off to a good start was important, and we got off to a good start," Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell said.
A 3-pointer by O'Neill ended an 8-0 run by the Razorbacks and gave the Wildcats a 15-12 lead with 10:18 remaining in the first half.
A 3-pointer by Jackson with 27 seconds left in the first half gave the Razorbacks a 32-31 lead. Jackson connected on three 3s in the first half.