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Kentucky Wildcats 78, Arkansas Razorbacks 63: Left A Mark

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26-8, 15-6

Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The Razorbacks said this game would be different than the game at Rupp a few weeks ago that saw the Hogs down 30 midway through the second half, and this game was different, although not as different as the Hogs had hoped.

The Wildcats dominated the first half out of the gate, running to a quick 8-0 start in the first two minutes. The Razorbacks weathered that storm and the game was tied at 19 ten minutes into the game, but Kentucky closed the first half on a 22-6 run, at one point making 7 straight field goals (and 9 out of 10) and the Razorbacks never seriously threatened again.

The Hogs did make things interesting in the second half. The Hogs won the "third quarter" by trimming the Kentucky lead to nine points midway through the half. In one stretch the Razorbacks made 10 of 13 shots, including four straight from Michael Qualls, but all momentum was lost after Moses Kingsley was whistled for a technical foul for hanging on the rim after a dunk.

I would argue that, yes Kingsley did hang on the rim a split-second too long, so it was technically the correct call. But it was not excessive and there were certainly more than a few questionable calls and no-calls throughout the game. And Arkansas certainly did not have to lose momentum afterward but they did. Kentucky scored the next seven points, pushing the lead up to 18 and the game was effectively over.

So at least it was a more interesting and entertaining game. It was also plenty physical. A few Wildcats had to leave the game had to leave for various non-serious ailments. Willie Cauley-Stein was shown on the bench at one point bleeding from a cut on his nose. Big Blue fans, including super fan Ashley Judd, were predictably not amused:

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p><a href="https://twitter.com/ArkRazorbacks">@ArkRazorbacks</a> dirty play can kiss my team&#39;s free throw making a--  <a href="https://twitter.com/KySportsRadio">@KySportsRadio</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/marchmadness">@marchmadness</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/espn">@espn</a> Bloodied 3 players so far.</p>&mdash; ashley judd (@AshleyJudd) <a href="https://twitter.com/AshleyJudd/status/577183950164127744">March 15, 2015</a></blockquote>

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To which we say

Even Bret Bielema got in on the act

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p>Love that we keep banging these cats around. People tend not to run rally fast when banged up.... <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/WoooPig?src=hash">#WoooPig</a> &#10;&#10;Love <a href="https://twitter.com/MikeAndersonUA">@MikeAndersonUA</a> style</p>&mdash; Bret Bielema (@BretBielema) <a href="https://twitter.com/BretBielema/status/577180189173551104">March 15, 2015</a></blockquote>

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Anyway, any team only has as much of a chance against this Kentucky team as they feel like giving them. They showed up today, going 7-12 from three and about 50% from inside the arc. Cauley-Stein had 15 points on 5-6 shooting and the Harrison twins combined for 26 points. Arkansas shot a respectable 44.4% and really an incredible 65.2% in the second half.

Qualls in particular was really strong, going 8-12 for the game. Unfortunately for Arkansas, he didn't start the game and only played 8 minutes in the first half. The sideline reporter said at the beginning of the game that "Anderson said he just wanted to change things up". After the game Anderson said it was housekeeping, which usually means Qualls did something Anderson didn't like so he sat him for a while in the first half. It's highly doubtful Arkansas would have won if Qualls played regularly in the first half, but it's easy to wonder if the game might have been closer.

Qualls finished with a game-high 18 points and was named to the All-Tournament team for his performance over the last three days. Bobby Portis was improved from his off-day against Georgia, this time scoring 13 points but only grabbing two rebounds. Anton Beard had 9, Alandise Harris had 8, and Moses Kingsley had 6. Arkansas dropped to 1-5 all-time in the SEC Tournament final.

But now the Hogs can purely focus on the NCAA Tournament and this afternoon's Selection Show. The latest projections had Arkansas anywhere from a 4-6 seed, so there's a pretty big range of possibilities for where they could go and who they could play. Ole Miss and Texas A&M dropped out of the top 50, which won't help the Razorbacks at all. It could even cost Georgia a bid. It should be an interesting afternoon.

But all in all, hard to be too disappointed in that game. The Hogs played hard, and played really well for a few stretches. And they snapped their SEC Tournament losing streak, which is nice.