Razorbacks whip Kentucky after halftime, win at Rupp Arena

By: Matt Jones Matt Jones's Twitter account
Published: Tuesday, February 7, 2023
Kentucky's Oscar Tshiebwe (34) is defended by Arkansas' Makhel Mitchell, right, during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Lexington, Ky., Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023. (AP Photo/James Crisp)
Kentucky's Oscar Tshiebwe (34) is defended by Arkansas' Makhel Mitchell, right, during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Lexington, Ky., Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023. (AP Photo/James Crisp)

Arkansas won its fifth consecutive SEC basketball game with a signature victory Tuesday night at Kentucky. 

The Razorbacks defeated the Wildcats 88-73 at Rupp Arena in a matchup of teams that have played well since slow starts to conference play. 

Arkansas (17-7, 6-5 SEC) has its first winning record in league games following a 1-5 start. 

Kentucky (16-8, 7-4) had a five-game SEC win streak snapped. 

The Razorbacks played strong defense and made 32 of their 51 field goal attempts, including 4 of 9 from three-point range. Arkansas led for the majority of the game — including by as many as 16 points — and never trailed by more than two points. 

After leading 41-40 at halftime, the Razorbacks opened the second half on an 11-3 run to take command with a 52-43 lead. Arkansas scored the first six points of the half, including steals by Anthony Black on consecutive Kentucky possessions that led to Black’s fast-break dunks on the other end. 

Black also scored four straight points during an 8-0 run later in the second half as the Razorbacks extended their lead to 72-58. Black scored 19 points and added 5 steals, 5 assists and 4 rebounds.

Twin posts Makhi Mitchell and Makhel Mitchell led the Razorbacks’ interior defensive effort that limited Kentucky’s reigning national player of the year, Oscar Tschiebwe, to 7 points on 3-of-6 shooting.

Makhel Mitchell scored a season-high 15 points to go with 4 rebounds and 5 blocked shots. Mitchell’s contested jumper from beyond the free-throw as the shot clock expired gave Arkansas a 74-60 with five minutes to play and sent many of the home fans to the exits. 

The success of the rushed shot was indicative of the near-flawless effort by the Razorbacks after halftime as they shot 18 of 25 (72%) and made 10 of 14 free throws. They held Kentucky to 12 of 30 (40%) from the floor. 

The teams traded blows throughout an entertaining first half. Arkansas took the lead for good on Makhel Mitchell’s jumper in the paint with 36 seconds remaining before halftime, and the Razorbacks quickly added to their lead when Black sank two free throws following a technical foul against Kentucky coach John Calipari. 

Daimion Collins’ buzzer beater closed the Wildcats’ deficit to 41-40 at halftime. 

Cason Wallace led Kentucky with a game-high 24 points. Chris Livingston added 13 points, and Antonio Reeves and Jacob Toppin scored 11 apiece. 

The Wildcats played the game without guard Sahvir Wheeler, a reserve in recent games who leads the team with 114 assists and averages 7.7 points per game. 

Ricky Council scored 20 points to lead Arkansas. Davonte Davis added 15 points, 3 rebounds and 7 assists, and Jordan Walsh scored 13 points off the bench for the Razorbacks, who won their second consecutive game on Kentucky’s home court. 

Arkansas won 81-80 in Lexington, Ky., on Feb. 9, 2021, in its first game at Rupp Arena under coach Eric Musselman. The Razorbacks have a 5-13 all-time record at the arena and Musselman is the first Arkansas coach to win in consecutive trips there. 

Nolan Richardson won two of his first three games at Kentucky after the Razorbacks transitioned to the SEC in the early 1990s. Arkansas did not win at the arena during a two-decade stretch between 1994 and 2014.

The Razorbacks are scheduled to play again Saturday at home against Mississippi State. Tipoff is scheduled for 5 p.m.


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