What a letdown that turned out to be.
Easily the best crowd of the season pretty much filled up Bud Walton Arena and were itching for the Razorbacks to give them a reason to explode, but the Kentucky didn't allow Arkansas to go on a run and the Wildcats won easily.
The Hogs never went on a run beyond 4-0 and couldn't slow down Kentucky on offense. And when Kentucky missed shots, they got too many offensive rebounds, particularly early on. That's how Alex Poythress started off scoring six points on layups in the first couple of minutes in the game.
There was plenty of complaining about officiating again although the foul and free throw numbers were basically even. If anything, it was the number of fouls called. There were 48 total in a game that was never within single digits in the second half. The game never had a great flow because of it. And, surprisingly, Kentucky shot free throws better than Arkansas did, making 23 of 30 to Arkansas' 20 of 31. Free throw shooting was supposed to be an Arkansas advantage coming into the game. Didn't happen.
Three point shooting was also supposed to be a big advantage for Arkansas, but they flopped from beyond the arc, making just 2 of 12 shots. Regardless of everything else, it would have been really hard for Arkansas to win without the threes, and that's a big part of why they couldn't get a run going. The Razorbacks had a few open looks throughout the game but struggled to get any to go down.
Rebounding was another key to the game for Arkansas and the Hogs didn't win that battle either. Kentucky won 43-34, but the advantage was built largely early on with offensive rebounds. The Wildcats ended up with a 19-8 advantage in second chance points. Moses Kingsley ended the game with just six rebounds. Anton Beard was actually the Hogs' second-leading rebounder with five, and it's never a good thing when the shortest guy on the team is second on the team in rebounding.
Arkansas simply didn't play well and they picked a heckuva time to do it. Part of that is because of Kentucky's defense and part of that is the Razorbacks just didn't play well. 66 points ties for the worst output of the season and easily their worst in Bud Walton Arena. Eighty points for Kentucky is good but not spectacular.
The bench didn't do much to help Arkansas. Anthlon Bell ended up with 16 points but none of them came in the first half when the game got out of hand. Nobody other than Bell, Kingsley, and Dusty Hannahs scored more than 5 points.
Kentucky's bench didn't do much either other than Skal Labissiere. The freshman forward had struggled most of the season, but he ended up with 11 points that was a much-needed boost for the Cats. Tyler Ulis had a great game with 24 points and five assists. Most of his scoring came from going 14-15 from the free throw line. Ulis was the biggest beneficiary of all of the fouls called tonight. Kentucky also blocked nine shots.
The concern for Arkansas is now that the Hogs are back at .500, they are in the middle of a tough stretch with the Thursday/Saturday turnaround to Georgia in two days, then they get red-hot Texas A&M in Fayetteville next week. They host Texas Tech next Saturday but then travel to Florida on National Signing Day. The Hogs could really use a win right now but they won't be easy to come by for a while still.