Kentucky 68, Arkansas 67

Arkansas gives 20,268 fans at Bud Walton Arena some thrills early and late on Saturday afternoon, but No. 7 Kentucky survives when Eric Ferguson's 3-pointer at the buzzer rims out.

It looked good when it left his hands.

That's what they will say about Eric Ferguson's 3-point shot at the buzzer on Saturday, but it instead rimmed out and took Arkansas' upset chances with it.

Kelanna Azubuike had 13 points and Rajon Rondo added 12 as No. 7 Kentucky survived Arkansas 68-67 before a sellout crowd of 20,268 fans at Bud Walton Arena and a CBS national television audience.

"It was a great performance from our crowd and a great performance out of our players," Arkansas head coach Stan Heath said. "I am not disappointed in our players. They did a lot of things well tonight. It all came down to a few plays here and there.

"..."You can look back and say one shot weather it be the last one or in the the first half or just basically one during the play that we didn't get and they got," Heath added. "That was the difference."

Ronnie Brewer had 18 points and 8 rebounds, Darian Townes 16 points and 5 rebounds and Olu Famutimi 13 and a team-high 9 rebounds for the Razorbacks (14-6, 2-5).

Brewer was 10-of-14 from the free throw line as Arkansas was 16-of-21 as a team and had seven offensive rebounds during a game his team forced 19 turnovers and had just 13.

"As much as you hate to lose a game, I think we proved to ourselves that we can compete with anyone," Heath said.

Ferguson's shot would have given Arkansas its first win in five games against Kentucky (16-2, 7-0), but the fact that it was at least a contest this season showed the gap was closing between the two.

"That was a great college basketball game," Kentucky head coach Tubby Smith said. "It was a battle of who was going to finish the strongest. I give the Arkansas team a lot of credit. Stan did a good job of getting his team ready to play."

Smith, whose team's only losses have been to No. 2 Kansas and No. 9 North Carolina - also complimented Arkansas' boisterous crowd - the biggest of the season and the eighth-largest ever in school history.

"Arkansas played well all day," Smith said. "They have a classy organization, great fans and a great atmosphere for college basketball."

The Razorbacks are just seven points away from having its 2-5 league mark being a 5-2 one with one more point needed in regulation at LSU, four more at home against Alabama and now two against Kentucky.

"We're climbing the mountain," Heath said. "Two years ago we didn't know what the top looked like. Now we know what the top looks like. We just have to get over the top."

Ferguson's 3-pointer with 10 seconds left got Arkansas to within one and he then had the chance to win it when Kentucky's Chuck Hayes missed a free throw.

"We had two options - Ronnie or Eric," Heath said. "It was probably good it was Eric. He had the fresher legs. He pushed it up and it was on line, but just hit the back of the rim. It looked good we were an inch away from winning it."

Arkansas lost despite outrebounding Kentucky by five and having an amazing 21 offensive rebounds.

But the Wildcats shot 56.5 percent from the field in the game (including 61.9 in the second half) while the Razorbacks shot 36.4 percent in both halves.

"There were a few plays here and there where we had breakdowns, but more than anything there were just a lot of shots my kids can make that didn't fall today for some reason. The ball just didn't bounce right."

Arkansas actually had a chance for a six or seven-point lead in the second half with the ball and a 46-42 lead, let that slip away and then almost took it back in the end.

The Wildcats led by five with just over a minute left before Jonathon "Pookie" Modica's old-fashioned 3-point play got them to within 66-64 with 53.2 seconds left in the game.

Although Bobby Perry pushed that back to four, Ferguson drilled a 3-pointer with 10 seconds left to make it 68-67.

Kentucky's Chuck Hayes then missed a free throw with 5.5 seconds left and Ferguson took an outlet passed, got bumped and regained his footing and then raced down for his attempt.

Arkansas nearly pulled off the win despite losing lone senior Michael Jones for the game just 47 seconds into the contest when he injured his groin while making a layup.

Brewer also had to leave the game with it tied 46-46 at 10:42 remaining with an ankle injury and did not score after returning at the 8:15 mark.

Townes picked up his fourth foul with 9:52 left and only scored two points after returning with 5:57 remaining.

The Razorbacks roared back from a 27-22 deficit in the first half to take a 33-32 lead at halftime.

Arkansas will return to action on Wednesday when it travels to South Carolina.

"We are going to be down about this," Townes said, "but we'll wake up with our heads high. We've still got more games to play so we have to prepare."


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