Kids teach Hogs' seniors a lesson

By: Bob Holt
Published: Thursday, February 22, 2018
Arkansas lost 87-72 to Kentucky Tuesday Feb. 20, 2018 at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville.
Photo by J.T. Wampler
Arkansas lost 87-72 to Kentucky Tuesday Feb. 20, 2018 at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- Kentucky's basketball team has six McDonald's All-Americans on its roster but no seniors.

The Arkansas Razorbacks have six seniors but no McDonald's All-Americans.

UP NEXT

Arkansas men vs. Alabama

WHEN 5 p.m. Central on Saturday

WHERE Coleman Coliseum, Tuscaloosa, Ala.

RECORDS Arkansas 19-9, 8-7 SEC;Alabama 17-10, 8-6

SERIES Arkansas leads 32-28

TELEVISION SEC Network

RADIO Razorback Sports Network

Youthful talent prevailed over seniority Tuesday night in Walton Arena, where the Wildcats' firepower was on full display in their 87-72 victory over the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.

Forward Kevin Knox, one of Kentucky's McDonald's All-Americans, led the Wildcats (19-9, 8-7 SEC) with 23 points. He was among the Wildcats' freshmen who combined to score 80 points.

Kentucky notched its second consecutive victory, along with an 81-71 triumph over Alabama, since suffering a four-game losing streak.

The 6-9 Knox, 6-9 freshman Jarred Vanderbilt and 6-7 freshman PJ Washington combined for 26 rebounds to help Kentucky to a 46-29 advantage after the Wildcats outrebounded Alabama 44-27.

"I felt we had that advantage considering how long and strong we are down at the post," Vanderbilt said. "Every missed shot, one of us should have a hand on it."

Kentucky 6-0 freshman guard Quade Green and 6-6 freshman guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had six and five rebounds, respectively.

The Wildcats also played 6-11 freshman Nick Richards, 6-10 sophomore Sacha Killeya-Jones and 6-9 sophomore Wenyen Gabriel.

"They're athletic, they're long, and they're figuring it out," Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson said. "They're a really good basketball team.

"They're not freshmen anymore. They scheduled to play against quality teams. It's a matter of them understanding how to go out and perform, and I thought they performed well tonight as a team."

Everything was going Arkansas' way early.

The Razorbacks opened 3 of 3 on three-point attempts -- against the SEC's top three-point defensive team -- and scored on an offensive rebound to jump out to an 11-0 lead.

Kentucky missed its first six shots and drew two fouls on offensive rebounds. Arkansas had a 9-1 rebounding advantage.

An announced crowd of 18,083 in Walton Arena was going crazy.

"Obviously our guys came out and they were fired up," Anderson said. "But emotions only take you so far. That's why you've got to play basketball."

Kentucky outscored Arkansas 87-61 over the final 36:13 to end the Razorbacks' winning streak at four games.

"They made big-time plays," Arkansas guard Anton Beard said. "Just because they're freshmen doesn't mean anything."

Arkansas 6-11 freshman Daniel Gafford had 9 points, 5 rebounds and 4 blocked shots. He hit 2 of 6 shots and 5 of 9 free throws.

"We just tried to keep him away from the basket as much as possible," Knox said. "I think we did a fairly decent job. He got to the foul line a lot, but he wasn't going to beat us."

Arkansas senior guard Jaylen Barford, who was averaging 18.6 points, scored 12 points and shot 4 of 16 from the field, including 2 of 7 on three-pointers.

"We tried to get a hand up and force him to drive and take a tough shot," Washington said.

The Razorbacks (19-9, 8-7) missed seven consecutive shots and had three turnovers over a 6:32 span when Kentucky pushed its lead from 68-65 to 83-68. During that same span the Wildcats had five offensive rebounds.

"We beat ourselves," said senior guard Daryl Macon, who led the Razorbacks with 26 points. "We were rushing. They went on a run, and we didn't come down and execute."

Gilgeous-Alexander played 39 minutes, Knox 38, Green 34 and Washington 31.

"I did away with the rotation because everybody took advantage and just did what they wanted to do because they knew they were going in," Kentucky Coach John Calipari said. "What I'm doing is if a guy's playing well, he's staying in as long as he can.

"Sub yourself and I'll get you back in. It's that time of the year. I've just got to ride the guys who are getting it done."

The Wildcats shot 46.3 percent (31 of 67) and hit 8 of 21 three-pointers.

"They have a lot of top players, but we had them," said Beard, who had 13 points and five assists. "We just didn't play defense long enough and didn't box out and get rebounds.

"We didn't feel like our defense was there tonight. We felt like we were slacking a little."

Arkansas senior forward Dustin Thomas had 10 rebounds, including six on the offensive end.

"I thought Dustin was really the bright spot," Anderson said. "You could just see he played with an edge. He was trying to get every loose ball. He was hustling.

"I thought he played the game the right way. That's the guy that's going to really continue to help us as we finish the season."

Calipari praised the Razorbacks.

"Arkansas is an NCAA Tournament team, and probably I'm going to guess a six or seven seed," Calipari said. "Now they've got to finish and win some games from here on."

The Razorbacks finish the regular season at Alabama on Saturday and next week against Auburn at home and at Missouri.

"I know we're a very, very good basketball team," Anderson said. "One of the better teams in the country. We just had a game where we didn't play as good as we've been playing. But our focus is going to be on that next practice and next game.

"If we do what we're supposed to do, we'll be where we're supposed to be."

Sports on 02/22/2018

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