Clarke had a brilliant all-around game with 14 points, a career-high 12 rebounds, a career-high six assists and three steals to lead Arkansas over Kentucky 73-60 Saturday afternoon before 18,139 fans and a CBS national television audience.
Marshawn Powell added 15 points and nine rebounds and B.J. Young 13 points for the Razorbacks (18-11, 9-7), who forced 19 turnovers and had a 30-2 edge in points off miscues in their win over the Wildcats (20-9, 11-5).
"It was a heck of an effort by our basketball team," Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson said. "I was concerned with how we would respond coming off a tough loss on the road at LSU. But I thought we came out and did what we normally do when we're at home which is defend. I thought we did a good job of trying to take Kentucky out of the things they want to do in terms of isolating guys. We tried to make the game as chaotic as we could and I thought that was the difference in the game."
He showed the form reminiscent of when he had three triple-doubles last year at Lawson (AL) State.
"It's become real comfortable for me," Clarke said. "I've been talking to Marshawn daily about how to get better in certain areas. Like I tell everybody, like I feed off of Marshawn. I know he's going to get his respect and I know he's going to get his double teams so I've got to come out and make plays in order for us to be successful. To free him up and BJ up as well and get the floor spaced. My confidence is sky high, I guess, right now, you could say."
As is Anderson's confidence in Clarke, who ranked second nationally in the junior college ranks last season.
"I think it makes our team a lot different," Anderson said. "You have got to guard us. You have got to guard us because we have some versatile forwards. Those guys can step out and they can make shots. He is active on the glass. He was one of the better rebounders in junior college. Now he is starting to impose his will so to speak. Of course, he is having an opportunity to play and the players that are out there – he knows their tendencies are. Now he can go to the glass and get his body in position.
"It makes a big difference when you can get extra possessions on offensive rebounds," Anderson added. "Not only that, but he is a guy that can help reverse the basketball – gets assists, gets singles that lead to the assists. He is a good ballplayer."
The win kept Arkansas' hopes for an NCAA berth still alive and the win coupled with Tennessee' loss leaves the two tied for sixth in the SEC.
The Razorbacks travel to face what will be a hostile Missouri crowd on Tuesday night at 6 p.m.
"You've just got to win games," said Anderson, who left Missouri to Arkansas. "This is one of the games that you talked about. It was the next game on our schedule. So what's important next? Let's go to practice and get better and then we hit the road and go to Missouri, a team that we played earlier in the year. If we can win games it will take care of itself. But our guys are in the hunt for something. I don't know what it is. But we'll just take it one game at a time."
Arkansas native Archie Goodwin – the former Sylvan Hills star had 14 points and 7-foot, 250-pound freshman center Willie Cauley-Stein 13 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Wildcats, who had their three-game win streak snapped and dropped two games back of Florida in the SEC standings.
"They got 20 offensive rebounds," Kentucky head coach John Calipari said. "We turned it over 19 times, a bunch of 'em unforced. We weren't as tough as them and we didn't play as hard as them and they wanted the game more than us, and that team usually wins. And they did. They deserved to win. They played better, they were better-coached. They deserved to win the game."
The Razorback crowd rode Goodwin hard the whole game because of what he called "a business decision" to leave the state and go play for the Wildcats and reached its crescendo early in the game when Young fouled Goodwin hard on a drive.
"I just ignored it,' Goodwin said. "I knew it was going to be like that coming in so it wasn't something that I let affect me. It's just, you know, being in the position I was in I expected it and I know that it's going to continue to happen here so I just have to continue to block it out and focus on what were trying to do."
Goodwin – who is expected to jump to the NBA and be a first-round pick after this season - was then asked if the booing and chants in his home state made him feel bad.
"It doesn't feel bad at all because I'm not from Fayetteville, I'm from Little Rock," Goodwin said. "Everybody in Little Rock loves me, that's all that matters to me. My family loves me, I love my teammates, my teammates love me. I'm not from here. If I was from here it would be different, but I'm not so it doesn't bother me. I could care less how they feel about me."
Calipari thought Goodwin – who was 5-of-8 from the field, but just 4-of-9 from the free throw line - handled the situation well.
"I was proud of Archie to come back home in this environment, how he played," Calipari said. "He fought…. . He tried. Now, he did some things that are like, 'What are you doing?' but he does that whether we're at home or in Arkansas or at Florida. He's going to do two or three things that you just look at like, 'What in the world?' But he plays hard. He competes. He tried. And for him to come back and do that, I was really proud of him."
Kikko Haydar added eight points and Rashad Madden eight points and seven rebounds for Arkansas, who won despite shooting just 34.8 percent from the field while Kentucky was shooting 46.5 percent.
That's because Arkansas won all the hustle stats, beat the taller Wildcats 44-37 on the boards and caused all the turnovers.
"I thought our guys gave 110 percent," Anderson said. "They gave everything on the floor. Our bench was really, realy good. Haydar comes off the bench and gives us some great, great minutes. Ky (Rashad) Madden, big minutes, big minutes."
Kentucky jumped out to an 11-4 lead, but Arkansas roared back by scoring 14 of the next 18 points and taking a 18-14 lead on Young's old-fashioned three-point play with 9:11 left in the first half.
The Razorbacks led 32-29 at halftime, but that was quickly cut it to 32-31 when Alex Poythress hit two free throws 19 seconds in the second half.
But Arkansas junior guard Fred Gulley – who started the game on Saturday despite playing just 10 minute in the last five games – buried a 3-pointer that started the first of two 11-0 runs that put Arkansas in firm control of the game from that point on.
"I thought it was big for us in terms of getting momentum because we came out and we put them on the free throw line the first time when we fouled them," Anderson said. "They cut it down and then I think we had a couple of stops. We talked about getting stops and he was one of the guys that was instrumental in helping us get stops. We had good ball movement and he stepped right into a three-point shot and before you know it our defense picks up.
"When you make shots, it is amazing how your defense really picks up," Anderson added. "The crowd was into it and I think Kentucky got a little rattled for awhile."
Why insert Gulley into the line-up?
"I always tell my guys 'stay ready,'" Gulley said. "He is an experience guy and I think he used that experience to his advantage the last few practices."
Arkansas had 26 more field goal attempts than Kentucky – in large part because of the rebounding edge and the season-high 19 turnovers coughed up by the visitors and was 19-of-29 from the free throw line while Kentucky was 17-of-27.
"I wish we had made more, but we took them – I know that," Anderson said. "That is why you look at the offensive rebounds. There were a lot of them because we did take those shots."
The win continued a trend of playing great at home – where the Razorbacks are 17-1 as opposed to 1-10 away from Arkansas.
"They're playing good," Calipari said. "They play much better here than they do on the road. I don't know the reason. I imagine Mike doesn't know the reason or he'd figure it out. But they're a team that is capable because of their energy and their effort. They play to their strengths. They do what they do. They play a lot of people, which means they can afford fouls, so get up and play. If we foul some, we foul some. Go up. And they do it.
"They're no longer playing that big lineup," Calipari added. "They're playing a smaller lineup and trying to be more athletic and tougher, and it's paid off. Tennessee did the same thing and they went on a six- or seven-game winning streak because they went small. In college basketball, I think just having a bunch of size may not always be the answer. If you have competitors and energy guys and they're a little bit small but they'll come up with balls, it pays off."
Photos by Jason Ivester
Coty Clarke battles Alex Poythress for one of his career-high 12 rebounds.
Kikko Haydar gets past Archie Goodwin for two of his eight points.
Marshawn Powell, who had 15 points and nine rebounds, looks to make a move on Kentucky freshman Alex Poythress.
BJ Young flushes one home as Goodwin defends.
Wille McCauley-Stein - Kentucky's 7-foot freshman - had 13 points, 10 rebounds and 4 blocks - and fends off Hunter Mickelson here.
Feed Gulley goes behind his back to avoid McCauley-Stein.
Mickelson strips Goodwin and heads up court.
Mickelson ended up getting this dunk off of the aforementioned steal.
Rashad Madden picks up one of Arkansas' 11 steals on the day.
Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson is now 33-4 in two seasons at Bud Walton Arena.