Arkansas 87, Kentucky 85 (OT)

Michael Qualls' rebound slam with less than one second left in overtime lifts Arkansas over Kentucky 87-85 Tuesday before before a season-high 18,619 fans at Bud Walton Arena.

There is Scotty Thurman's three for a national title. There is the halfcourt winner from U.S. Reed in the NCAA tournament. There is Charles Balentine's baseline winner over No. 1 North Carolina.

Now, there is THE Michael Qualls overtime rebound dunk to beat storied Kentucky and take Arkansas from deflation to elation in an 87-85 victory Tuesday night at Bud Walton Arena.

The Hogs had lost an overtime heart breaker to Florida on Saturday afternoon when they needed an Alandise Harris free throw to put the game away in regulation. This time, the Wildcats hit two amazing threes, the first to force overtime and the second with 10 seconds left in regulation to tie the game for the 18th time.



"Hats off to our guys because the Florida game was tough on our guys," Arkansas coach Mike Anderson said. "Especially when this one went into overtime, we could have had flashbacks. But we showed resiliency, found ways to get stops."

Qualls, the 6-7 sophomore flyer, put home the dunk on a Ky Madden 3-point miss that was launched with two seconds left. Officials – with the fourth replay conference of the game – judged it good and with 0.2 ticks left, too late for Kentucky to get a catch and shot on the in bounds. The Wildcats tossed the pass into the netting in the scoreboard by accident.

Qualls, who recounted two other end-of-game dunks from high school, came soaring in from the opposite baseline, above Kentucky's flat-footed James Young and Aaron Harrison.

"I was just crashing the boards," Qualls said. "Everyone is just watching the shot and clinching jerseys. They are just thinking it's over and they forgot about me."

Anderson said Qualls, with the great vertical leaping ability, might have been the only Razorback capable of such a play.

"We've been trying to get Mike to go to the offensive glass," Anderson said. "He's the one guy who can make that play because of his athletic ability. You witnessed it. Not many guys could do that. Not many guys."

Kentucky coach John Calipari said, "On the last shot, my guy was watching. (Qualls) ran by him and dunked. It's what freshmen do.

"Give Arkansas credit. They played well. I'm proud of my team because they didn't quit."

Qualls has made just three of 24 in the 0-2 SEC start against Texas A&M and Florida. He was only 5 of 14 against the Wildcats, but he chased down a loose ball in the corner and was fouled with 26.7 seconds left, making both foul shots for an 85-82 lead. Young tied it with a three at the 10-second mark to set up the winning play.

Qualls and Madden led the Hogs with 18 points each. Qualls was 7 of 11 from the foul line, Madden 3 of 3. Harris added 12, including a key three-point play. The Hogs canned 29 of 41 from the line, beating the Wildcats at their own game. UK made 26 of 40. The other key stat was in turnovers, a 17-6 UA edge. Madden was smooth at the point on both ends.

Calipari noticed the slight difference at the line and thought it key.

"It's the first time all year someone has shot more free throws than us," Calipari said. "We usually shoot 20 more.

"It was a great win for them. They had the dregs of Florida and then we made the first basket in overtime and they fought back."

Anderson knew that flashback was there, calling his team back to him after they broke from the bench area just before the overtime tip. He put his arms around Harris and Madden to pull the team in close for a key message.

"I told them we'd been in this place before," Anderson said, referencing the Florida loss. "We need to show everyone and ourselves that we'd grown and learned something. It was a tough loss and at the same time you have to learn from it. We learned.

"We made stops in overtime. The ball bounced long a few times and we went and got it. We fought to the last play and showed resilience and great poise.

"It was a total team effort and it was very important from a confidence standpoint. We are still behind the eight ball so we need to go on the road and steal one."

The Hogs (12-4, 1-2) play at Georgia on Saturday. They handed the Wildcats (12-4, 2-1) their first SEC loss and put Anderson ahead of Calipari, 3-2, in their all-time matchups.

"Just another game," Anderson said. "I guess I'm not into Mike (Anderson). We are just fortunate."

The Razorbacks led by as many as nine points in the first half before settling for a 43-41 lead.

They scored 14 points off 10 turnovers by the Wildcats, who controlled the inside but struggled against Arkansas' pressure defense.

"I hate losing, but I'm fine," Kentucky coach John Calipari said. "Those kids did not quit ... We had a bunch of turnovers early, but I thought offensively we basically made the plays we wanted. You've got to give them credit."

It was a herky-jerky pace, thanks to 60 fouls called by the three-man crew SEC crew led by Ron Groover. There was an amazing sequence of eight foul shots with no time running off the clock at the 5:02 mark of the first half -- four makes by the Hogs that led to a 7-0 run on a Mardracus Wade three for a 37-28 lead. Three of the plays were on fouls as free throwers pulled the trigger, one of them a double foul.

Kentucky never led by more than three points and by over two in the second half. The Hogs were plagued by guard foul trouble with Fred Gulley and Kikko Haydar both fighting through most of the second half with four fouls.

"We beat the crap out of each other," Calipari said. "It was hand-to-hand combat, chest to chest."

Anderson said it was "not pretty" but he appreciated the defensive intensity.

"We went toe to toe," he said. "Our defense was engaged. The two teams really went after each other, Hogs and Cats.

Young led Kentucky with 23 points. Julius Randle, 6-9 freshman center, was a load all night with 20 points, 14 rebounds, six on the offensive end. But he had to do most of his scoring from the foul line where he was 10 of 14. He had five turnovers.

"He got in foul trouble in the first half," Anderson said, "then he turned into a beast in the second half."

Calipari called what happened to Randle "summo wrestling, plus running." Randle was winded and had to sit out the opening flury of the overtime.

"It was an unbelievable finish. This team is starting to make our own memories."

Photos by Jason Ivester





Michael Qualls' game-winning dunk.





Qualls celebrates with the large crowd of students on hand.





Rashad Madden continued his fine play with 18 points.





Alandise Harris tries to get around James Young.





Alandise Harris and Bobby Portis celebrate after a Harris basket late in the game.





JaCorey Williams shoots over Kentucky star Julius Randle.





Coty Clarke drives to the basket.


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