Hogs Edge Cats

Nate Allen

FAYETTEVILLE – It took Jalen Tate’s foul-drawing offensive rebound and two free throws with seven seconds left to lead it, and Davonte “Devo” Davis intercepting a pass preserving it, for Arkansas to edge the Kentucky Wildcats, 81-80 in Tuesday night’s SEC game at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky.

But leading and preserving that all did for the Razorbacks breaking an 8-game 7-year losing streak against the Wildcats while winning their fifth consecutive SEC game.

Coach Eric Musselman’s Razorbacks now surge, 15-5 overall/7-4 in the SEC. They next seek avenging their home loss of the season meeting the nationally No. 10 Missouri Tigers Saturday in Columbia, Mo.

The Hogs come home to Fayetteville with grad transfer Tate having celebrated near his old Kentucky home as a grad transfer from Northern Kentucky University tallying a team-leading 15 points including 5 of 5 free throws, the last two after rebounding a Davis miss advancing Arkansas from down 80-79 to the victorious 81-80.

“I was really proud (of Tate),”Musselman said. “Obviously, playing in the state he knows all about the Wildcats and how they dominate the state of Kentucky. … I think for all of our guys it’s a big win.”

Tate waxed ecstatic.

“We had 25 tickets on my list this week,” Tate said. “My old school is only an hour from here. It meant the world. Everybody that came tonight… I let them know physically when I got to see them after the game.

It meant the world to the Razorbacks when 6-6 point guard Tate rescued the game slipping away with Davion Mintz’s 3-pointer with 23 seconds left surpassing Arkansas’ 80-79 lead rebounding Davis’ miss with 4.3 seconds while fouled by Kentucky’s Jacob Toppin contesting for the rebound.

“We elected not to call a timeout in that late game situation,” Musselman said after Kentucky’s last go-ahead shot. “I thought Devo did a good job penetrating and then Jalen attacking the rim to draw two free throws and then obviously clutch free throws. That’s a lot of pressure on Jalen Tate when he stepped up there and made both. Huge, huge win for us!”

Tate said practice made perfect.

“I felt like I had a good chance to get it and went up and grabbed it,” Tate said. “It was something we worked on the entire week in practice. It speaks monuments to practice.”

Musselman marveled at Tate’s free throw confidence.

“He said,” Musselman recalled. “After I make this free throw make sure we get into what we work on every day,’ which is our prevent defense.”

Davis prevailed preventing.

The 6-3 intrepid freshman from Jacksonville, not bashful about taking what would have been the last shot, anticipated Toppin’s pass with 4.3 seconds left before the pass that would have been Kentucky’s try for late-game heroics. Davis broke on the ball like a football cornerback so alone with the theft that Kentucky had no chance even flailing a futile foul.

“Devo has great anticipation,” Musselman said, “A huge steal. I thought he did a great job both offensively and defensively the last few seconds.”

Coach John Calipari’s Wildcats, accustomed to leading the SEC and contending for the national championship, fall to an appalling, 5-13 overall/4-7 in the SEC.

Despite the records disparity, Arkansas only was favored by the one point it won by and would also lead by at intermission.

Kentucky led 14:45 of the first half’s 20 minutes but Arkansas went into halftime up, 36-35.

Arkansas led most of the second half yet was overtaken late like Kentucky in the first half before Tate and Davis resuscitated the


Known as a shot-blocking team that doesn’t shoot three wells, Kentucky only blocked two shots to Arkansas’ three but certainly took what Arkansas permitted from three.

Paced by Brandon Boston’s 4 of 5 treys and game-leading 17 points and 7-footer Olivier Sarr’s 3 of 5 treys and 13 points, the Cats shot a stunning 14 of 26 treys to Arkansas’ 9 of 24.

“They normally don’t shoot the 3-ball like that:”Musselman said. “So you have to give them credit for knocking down 14 of 26. If you play the numbers, that’s usually not their game. That’s on me (a game plan daring Kentucky to shoot threes). But I thought we did a great job of battling.”

Committing only six turnovers, amassing 12 assists and converting 18 of 23 free throws, two gifted on Kentucky forward Isaiah Jackson fouling out with a technical to Kentucky’s 16 of 25, Arkansas netted 14 points and seven rebounds from freshman guard Moses Moody, 11 points from sixth man guard JD Notae, and 12 points, four rebounds and two blocked shots and nine points, seven rebounds and a blocked shot from respectively from alternating centers Connor Vanover and Jaylin Williams.

Vanover, the 7-3 sophomore from Little Rock and 6-9 grad transfer Vance Jackson loomed large in the first half. Williams, the 6-10 freshman from Fort Smith Northside especially impacted the second half including fouled by Isaiah Jackson that the Kentucky forward compounded into the technical.

“I thought both guys (Vanover and Williams) gave us something different,” Musselman said. “Obviously Connor’s two three-balls in the first half were very important for us. I thought Vance Jacksonn (five points for 8:35 first half minutes) played really, really, really good basketball and it was a struggle not to get him back in the game. Jaylin Williams, the freshman continues to get better. I thought almost everybody on the roster really contributed tonight.”

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