Sun January 28, 2024

By Lance Hawley

Hogs Fall to Kentucky on Saturday
By Otis Kirk

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas appeared on its way to defeating No. 6 Kentucky Saturday, but the Wildcats took their first lead of the game with 12:54 remaining and went on to a 63-57 win in Bud Walton Arena.

Arkansas played the game without forward Trevon Brazile and guard Davonte "Devo" Davis. Brazile was out with a knee injury he suffered against Ole Miss Wednesday night. On the other hand, Davis wasn't with the team leading to a release from the University of Arkansas.

The release read, "Arkansas senior guard Davonte Davis has stepped away from the program."

Davis didn't play the second half against Ole Miss on Wednesday though Eric Musselman said he was healthy. One thing that has puzzled Arkansas' fans has been the seemingly lack of effort in recent games. That wasn't the case on Saturday.

"Well I’m really proud of the effort," Musselman said. "I know that fans, the locker room, coaching staff - we are extremely disappointed. Frustrated that we didn’t win. I thought we played great basketball for 25 minutes or so. Point guard play is so vital in a close game. And we really struggled at that position tonight. 

"Our bigs were phenomenal. I thought Chandler Lawson did a great job. Khi Mitchell played as good a game as he has since he’s been at Arkansas with the four blocks and 13 rebounds and 10 free throws attempted. So some really good things and some things we have to continue to get better at."

Mitchell topped the Hogs with 12 points and 13 rebounds. He got help from the other bigs as Musselman noted. Lawson added five points, seven rebounds and two assists. Jalen Graham had eight points and two rebounds.

Arkansas got 11 points each from Tramon Mark and Khalif Battle. They did struggle at point guard as El Ellis got the majority of the minutes there. In 32 minutes, Ellis had seven points and three rebounds, but committed five turnovers with only one assist. Musselman praised Battle who played 34 minutes.

"I thought KB did a really good job," Musselman said. "He played 34 minutes. He hit two free throws and did a good job on the defensive backboards for us with four defensive boards and five total boards to go along with his 11 points and two turnovers. I thought he did a really good job.  He hasn’t had extended minutes like that."

The Razorbacks held a 26-24 lead at halftime Saturday. Reed Sheppard gave the Wildcats their first lead of the game 38-37 with 12:54 remaining in the game. Arkansas came back to take the lead 41-40 with 10:37 left in the game. Kentucky then moved back out in front and never trailed again.

Antonio Reeves was the leading scorer in the game with 24 points. Sheppard chipped in 14 points, four rebounds and five assists. Tre Mitchell had 10 points and 11 rebounds. Kentucky (15-4, 5-2) got only its second road win in the SEC against the Hogs.

The game had some cold shooting on both sides. Kentucky shot 37% (23-63) from the field to 33 (20-60) for Arkansas. Kentucky did manage 45% (9-20) from 3-point territory to only 21% (4-19) for the Hogs. The Razorbacks did win the rebounding battle 44-39 which is a rarity this season.

Arkansas (10-10, 1-6) will now travel to Columbia to face Missouri on Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m. and televised on the SEC Network. Missouri (8-12, 0-7) lost at South Carolina 72-64 on Saturday.

Photos Courtesy of Craven Whitlow CW3 Sports Action