Late layups lifts Arkansas past No. 22 UK 77-76
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP)—John Pelphrey stormed onto the court with a foot stomp and a hand clap.
The Arkansas coach then proceeded to dish out high fives to everyone he could find.
Pelphrey had plenty of reasons for his emotional outburst after the Razorbacks fought off No. 22 Kentucky for a 77-76 overtime win on Wednesday night. The win was Pelphrey’s first in four chances against his alma mater, and it snapped Arkansas’ 10-game losing streak to the Wildcats.
“I know what it’s like to be on the other side of the deal,” Pelphrey said. “Every time you step on court, it’s the largest crowd of the year. Everybody wants to measure themselves against those guys. I know that feeling.
“Our guys are going to be able to take this with them and they’re going to talk about this for a long, long time.”
Kentucky (19-8, 7-6 Southeastern Conference) led 76-75 in the final minute of overtime and had possession. However, Arkansas’ Jeff Peterson picked off an errant pass and passed ahead to Marcus Britt, whose layup put the Razorbacks up 77-76 with 17 seconds remaining.
The Wildcats had several shots in the final seconds, but Brandon Knight’s desperation 3-point attempt at the buzzer went long. Kentucky fell to 1-6 on the road in conference play, with its last road win coming at South Carolina on Jan. 22.
“If you’re not angry by this, like angry that this is happening and that we’re going to stop this from happening, it won’t change,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said. ” I know I’m angry.”
Arkansas (17-9, 6-6) had lost four of five SEC games coming in. The Razorbacks started quickly, leading by as many as eight points in the first half, and got standout performances from Rotnei Clarke and Marshawn Powell.
Clarke led Arkansas with 26 points, hitting 11 of 12 free throws. Also, Powell had his best game of the season with 22 points and 10 rebounds.
Knight led Kentucky with 26 points, scoring 15 after halftime to help the Wildcats rally from a 34-32 deficit at the break.
Kentucky opened the second half on a 9-2 run to take a 43-37 lead after a DeAndre Liggins basket inside. The Razorbacks responded with a 10-0 run to go back up 47-37, with Clarke hitting seven straight free throws during the run.
The two teams settled into a back-and-forth affair after that, trading the lead seven more times. Knight put the Wildcats up 70-68 with a jumper in the final minute, but Arkansas’ Julysses Nobles collected his own miss on the following possession and then drove in for a layup to tie it at 70.
Knight had a pair of open 3-point attempts on Kentucky’s final possession in regulation, but he missed both to send the game into overtime.
“They felt good,” Knight said. “I felt good shooting them, but they just didn’t go down.”
Knight connected on a jumper to give the Wildcats a 72-70 lead early in overtime. Powell answered at the other end for Arkansas, which had lost all three of its previous overtime games this season before Wednesday.
His putback of a Delvon Johnson miss tied the game at 72, but Terrence Jones put Kentucky back up with a putback of his own.
Nobles gave Arkansas its first lead of the extra period with an off-balance 3-pointer from the corner to go up 75-74, but Jones answered with a jumper.
Moments later, Britt deflected a pass by Knight that Peterson collected. He then looked ahead and found a streaking Britt for the game-winning layup as the Razorbacks improved to 15-2 in Fayetteville this season.
“It’s huge,” Clarke said. “I’m happy for our team, I’m happy for our coaching staff and happy for our fans.”