In a game that featured 125 shots from the field, 81 free throws, 60 personal fouls and took nearly three hours to play, four-tenths of a second made the difference.
Arkansas’ Michael Qualls rebounded a missed 3-pointer by teammate Rashad Madden and slammed it back through the basket with two hands at the :00.4 mark of overtime to give the Razorbacks an 87-85 win over No. 13 Kentucky at Bud Walton Arena.
The game appeared to be heading to a second overtime after the Wildcats’ James Young hit a tying 3-pointer with :09 left, but the freshman forward failed to box out his man, Qualls, on the final sequence in the last of several crucial mistakes by a young UK team on the night.
“Crashing the boards, in that type of situation, is the best time to do it because everybody’s clinching their hoping that he doesn’t hit the 3, so they forget about it,” said Qualls, who had 18 points and five rebounds. “I just seen the opportunity and went and took it.”
The Wildcats had one final chance with :00.2 left, but Aaron Harrison's Hail Mary in-bound pass got lodged in the scoreboard hanging over midcourt, ending the game.
“They played well,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said. “I’m proud of my team, that they didn’t quit, they kept playing… But the last shot, (Young) just watched. The guy ran by him and dunked it. I mean, he’s a freshman. That’s what freshmen do.
"Let's give Arkansas credit. They didn't go away, either... This was a great game."
It was a game Arkansas (12-4, 1-2 SEC) desperately needed coming off losses to Texas A&M and Florida to begin its league schedule. It was also an important game for Kentucky (12-4, 2-1) in its quest to start building a stronger postseason seeding resume.
“We showed a lot of resilience,” Arkansas coach Mike Anderson said. “… A total team effort and a great atmosphere against an outstanding Kentucky team.
“Our backs were to the wall, and we had some adversity in this game, but our guys hung in there and hung in there.”
The game featured 18 ties and 10 lead changes.
Kentucky shot better from the field (48 percent to 38 percent) and held a dominant 50-32 rebounding advantage, but hurt its chances with a 26-for-40 showing at the free throw line. In their four losses this season, coming by a total of 16 points, the Wildcats have missed a combined 55 free throws.
“We missed a ton of free throws,” Calipari said. “(Arkansas) is making two of two, and we’re missing one of two every single time. That’s going to cost you in these type of games.”
The Wildcats also committed 10 turnovers in the first half that led to 14 Arkansas points and coughed it up twice in overtime which proved costly.
Young finished with a game-high 23 points to lead Kentucky. Julius Randle followed with 20 points and a game-high 14 rebounds. Aaron Harrison added with 16 points, while Alex Poythress posted 12 points and six rebounds off the bench.
Madden matched Qualls for team-high scoring honors at 18. Alandise Harris followed with 12 points and Bobby Portis added 11 points and 10 rebounds for the Razorbacks.
* Kentucky leads the series with Arkansas 25-10, but the Razorbacks hold a 7-6 edge in Fayetteville.
* The Wildcats trailed 43-41 at halftime. They dropped to 3-3 on the season when trailing at the break.
* Calipari's UK teams dropped to 5-2 in overtime games.
* Kentucky has missed double-digit free throws in its losses to Michigan State (16), Baylor (11), North Carolina (14) and Arkansas (14).
* UK returns to action against Tennessee on Saturday, Jan. 18, at Rupp Arena. Tipoff is set for noon ET on CBS.
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