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Arkansas Razorbacks 71, Kentucky Wildcats 67: !?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!


Andy Lyons

I assume we all lost our pants in the aftermath of that one. So now that we're all on the same page. Let's begin.

I'm always pretty hesitant to say a team made "the leap". Is this the kind of win that firmly establishes that a program has elevated its status? Arkansas has had plenty of great wins in Bud Walton Arena throughout the last decade, but a win against Kentucky at Rupp? And this is a pretty good Kentucky team, not like last year's NIT bunch.

I really don't know yet what this means. I know what it could mean. It could mean that Arkansas will be back in the NCAA Tournament if they win their two games at Bud Walton Arena in the next week (and that's not a given - Georgia and Ole Miss are no pushovers). I know this team has all the momentum in the world right now.

I know this could be the proof that Arkansas is moving onward and upward. If they continue handling business these last few weeks, they can go far. The door is now wide open. They just have to go through it. Of course, as any Arkansas fan knows, that's kind of a scary place for Arkansas fans to be. But if there's anyone who knows how to run like hell through it, it's Mike Anderson. He's got that pedigree. Maybe all the stars from the Final Four ceremony rubbed some magic on the players.

So I don't know. I'm too afraid to say they're there, but that road game albatross is certifiably dead. And that's something. This team should fear no one left on there schedule. Hell, they can win out into the NCAA Tournament, maybe. Wouldn't shock me right now.

There was a lot of talk about expectations being too high when the team started off 2-6 in SEC play. That was always crap. This team was always capable of playing well. Up through the Alabama game, the Hogs only shot above 40% twice. Since then, they've only been below that once. That's what we expected after watching the team tear it up in non-conference play. This is the team that beat up SMU.

Give the team credit. They've earned every bit of it. They've won six of seven and are one measly point from winning their last seven games.

I damn sure know I don't have to be slightly embarrassed when I say I'm excited about Razorback basketball. No snarky jokes for at least a little while.

I don't really know how that happened. It went against everything I understand. Arkansas' advantages from the first game were taken away and they still found a way to win.

The Razorbacks had a huge turnover advantage in the first game and took several more shots than the Wildcats. Tonight Arkansas actually lost the turnover battle and Kentucky took 18 more shots and 6 more free throws.

Willie Cauley-Stein was basically worthless in the first game. He only played 18 minutes due to foul trouble and scored just two points. Tonight he had 13 rebounds (nine offensive) and 16 points.

Kentucky crushed Arkansas on the offensive glass overall, 26-11. That was a near-even stat in Fayetteville. They more than doubled the Hogs in points in the paint.

Bobby Portis only took one shot in the entire second half and overtime combined. It was a tip in during overtime off an offensive rebound. They were big points, but dang, Arkansas has to figure out how to get him more shots. He's only the team leader in field goal percentage. That's pretty inexcusable.

So Arkansas must have done something right, you know, to win? They did command a few stats. Arkansas shot 41.6% from the field, continuing the better shooting since the Vanderbilt game (they've shot over 40% in each game since then except South Carolina). Kentucky shot a paltry 34.2%.

And Arkansas was a perfect 16-16 on free throws. Read that again. 100%. Kentucky killed themselves at the stripe, going 12-22. The Hogs only took two free throws in the second half (I know, right?), but they were Rashad Madden's huge couple of shots just before the end of regulation that tied the game.

It was just enough to force overtime.

And then Coty Clarke came alive. He only had four points in regulation, but the senior gave Arkansas their first lead in overtime with a big three, then hit four free throws down the stretch to put the game away. Kikko Haydar knocked down the last couple of free throws to ice it.

And now we have a revenge game with Georgia. Think fans are excited? The game against the Bulldogs is sold out. It was sold out before the Kentucky game.