Arkansas had been to overtime three times this season. The result was the same in each case. They were losses and not really competitive in the extra period. The Hogs had lost by 5 points to Alabama-Birmingham in Little Rock, by 9 points to Texas A&M in Dallas and by 7 points at South Carolina.
So what was different when the Hogs went to overtime for the fourth time this season, this time against Kentucky.
"We said we weren't going to lose on our home floor," Rotnei Clarke said, "not after getting to this point this time."
And it was discussed during the break before the extra period. Coach John Pelphrey brought it up and hammered it home.
"The point was made," Clarke said. "He said losing wasn't an option. And we came out in ovrtime and executed."
The separation in overtime was never more than one basket. It got off the even number when Julysses Nobles hit a 3-point shot for the first Arkansas lead in OT at 75-74 with 1:57 left. The lead changed hands two more times, finally with 16.2 seconds left on a Marcus Britt fast-break layup.
Britt, senior from Madison, Ark., tipped the ball away from Kentucky star Brandon Knight on the other end. It bounced to Jeff Peterson near the foul line. He fed Britt who converted despite contact at the other end. Was it his biggest hoop as a Razorback.
"Yeah, you could say that," Britt said.
There were other questions about the magnitude and importance in the overall scheme of where Arkansas basketball is in the final month of the season. Britt and Clarke were asked how big the victory would be for Pelphrey, a Kentucky grad?
"It's a big win," Clarke said. "Really, it doesn't matter who it is. We came in playing hard and needing a win. But Kentucky is a great team with a ton of great players."
Britt said, "Every game we have we have to play hard like tonight. We just have to have this same focus that we had tonight."
But as far as specifically was it important for Pelphrey's future, players seemed to dodge that one.
"It was huge for all of us," Clarke said. "I'm happy for the team, the staff and for our fans. Our fans really supported us and it was a tremendous night."
The Hogs had their hands full with Knight -- until the overtime. Knight scored 26 points, 15 in the second half. But he was 1 of 6 in overtime. He played 43 minutes. Did he tire?
"He might have gotten a little tired," Clarke said. "He's a great player, especially for a freshman. He has a high IQ, but I thought our guys -- Marcus and Julysses -- worked hard and did all they could against him."
Clarke also scored 26 points. He made only 6 of 16 from the field, but he converted 11 of 12 from the foul line. He had two 4-point plays on the night. One came on four free throws -- two on a technical -- at the 15:06 mark. Clarke actually made 7 straight free throws in a back to back possessions to give the Hogs a 44-43 lead. He hit a 3-point basket with a free throw for a 64-61 UA lead at the 3:42 mark of regulation.
"I tried to do a little more to attack them," Clarke said. "I've been trying to do that and get guys in the air. (The 4-point play) came at a good point in the game. My teammates got me open. Delvon Johnson gave me a great screen."
Hogs Change OT Luck
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