Arkansas and Kentucky have had some great games over the years, but Thursday night’s one in Bud Walton Arena was certainly not one of those.
Tyler Ulis had 24 points and Jamal Murray 19 as the No. 23 Wildcats jumped to an early lead and cruised to 80-66 win over the Razorbacks before a season-high 18,588 fans in Fayetteville.
Dusty Hannahs had 20 points, Anthlon Bell all 16 of his in the second half and Moses Kingsley 13 points and 6 rebounds, but this game was nothing like the win Arkansas (9-9, 3-3) had on Michael Qualls’ buzzer-beating dunk two seasons ago on Kentucky’s last trip to Northwest Arkansas.
“We got hit in the mouth early and never recovered,” Hannahs said. “We just kept trying to maker that push, but what really killed us was…we got out rebounded a lot and they had a lot of second chances and offensive boards and that is what hurt us.”
Derek Willis added 12 points and struggling freshman Skai Labissiere 11 points for Kentucky (14-4, 4-2), who shot just 41.9 percent from the field, but won the board battle 43-34.
“I thought we played on all heels and that is not typical of our basketball team,” Anderson said. “We had a great, great crowd and I thank Razorback Nation for coming out. It was a great atmosphere and that is what big-time basketball is all about.
“It probably wasn’t a clinic on basketball, but I thought it was too teams out there fighting and once we got got behind it seemed like we never could get over the hump.”
The win was the first for head coach John Calipari at Bud Walton Arena as the Wildcats coach and made him just 2-4 overall in the building.
“This is a hard place,” Calipari said. “You don’t come here expecting to win, let me tell you that. You just don’t.
“…One of the things I did was reach back into the 1990 playbook and all we talked about was refuse to lose for the past two days. You may run out of time, but you refuse to lose.”
Kentucky won by keeping Arkansas - the SEC’s leading field goal shooting team and fourth nationally in 3-point shooting - to just 22-of-55 (40 percent) overall and 2-of-12 from 3-point range.
Hannahs was 7-of-14 overall and 1-of-5 on 3-pointers while Bell was 5-of-12 from the field and 1-of-4 from 3-point range while going scoreless before intermission as Kentucky built a 36-24 edge.
The Wildcats also had only six turnovers and the Razorbacks - who had nine turnovers - just scored six points off those miscues.
“Hannahs killed us any way, but we were just saying ‘make them beat us with tough twos’ and that is what we were trying to do,” Calipari said. “Both of those guys, we knew that one, if you turn it over they are flying, two they are best team at creating threes that we will have played against.
“Because we didn’t get many turnovers, they didn’t get many (points) in transition. Then the rest of it comes in the half court and you just say, ‘you are driving the ball.’”
Ulis played 38 minutes with just one turnover while dishing out five assists.
“Tyler Ulis was ridiculous,” Calipari said. “He was very, very, very good.”
Anderson was also impressed with Ulis.
“They came out and they really attacked us and Tyler Ulis just did a great job of taking command out there on the floor and the Willis kid gave them a guy that could really open up the floor for them, took the ball and did what he wanted to do.
“I really thought we started off the game on our heels and what led to that was probably offensive rebounding. We made them miss the initial shot and there was (Alex) Poythress getting the rebound, Marcus Lee and Skai and put them in.”
The two coaches seemed to have a dust-up after the game and both talked about it afterwards with Calipari up first at the post-game press conferences.
“That’s fine, he and I talked after,” Calipari said, “…he apologized and I said ‘if I said anything to make you mad, I apologize.’ I say all kind of stuff. So it probably was something I did say and he deserved to react the way he did, but we’re fine.”
Anderson didn’t want to discuss the incident.
“We apologized,” Anderson said. “It’s all under the bridge.”
Arkansas will return to action at Georgia in a 5 p.m. game on Saturday.
Former Arkansas and Kentucky head coach Eddie Sutton attended the game along with former Razorback players Joe Kleine and Darrell Walker.
Former Razorback basketball standout and current Boston Red Sox minor leaguer Andrew Benintendi and Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn called the Hogs during one of the early timeouts.
Anton Beard had five points, five rebounds and two assists for Arkansas on Thursday night
Jabril Durham drives in againt Kentucky's Skal Labissiere