Kentucky Guard Crowns Himself "King"

FAYETTEVILLE -- Prior to tipoff, Kentucky guard Ramel Bradley listened as his close friend from back home, Arkansas point guard Gary Ervin, talked trash.

Bradley and Ervin are both Brooklyn, N.Y., natives, so naturally there were bragging rights at stake when the two juniors reunited on Saturday afternoon in Bud Walton Arena.

But judging by the way Bradley came to life in the second half to propel Kentucky to an 82-74 win, there was no doubt as to which New Yorker got the upper hand.

"I'm the King of Brooklyn now," Bradley said, cracking a smile after he outscored Ervin 24-0.

After scoring just two points in the first half, Bradley came out of the locker room and rediscovered his shooting touch in a hurry.

The junior sank four 3-pointers, connected on all eight of his free throws over the final 1:15 and surprised even his teammates with his 22 points in the second half. As a result, Bradley finished with a career-high 24 points to go along with his six rebounds and five assists.

"It blew my mind," Kentucky guard Joe Crawford said of Bradley's second-half performance.

"... I knew he hit some big shots, but I think everyone was so focused in the game, we were surprised when we looked up (at the scoreboard) and he had that many points."

Arkansas coach Stan Heath didn't see Bradley's hot hand coming, either. The Razorbacks were more concerned with shutting down the Wildcats' top two options -- forward Randolph Morris and Crawford, who entered Saturday as the leading scorer in Southeastern Conference games.

But Bradley proved to be too much Saturday, scoring eight points during a 22-6 run that allowed Kentucky to erase a 49-41 deficit and take the lead for good.

Bradley drained a 3-pointer from 22 feet out, and he had no trouble hitting shots despite being guarded by Ervin, whom Bradley considers to be "almost like family."

"He seemed to hit some timely shots that were from deep," Heath said of Bradley. "It was a little unexpected that he would rise up and hit those."

Bradley is an emotional player, and he admitted that his second-half flurry came after he screamed at his teammates in the locker room at halftime for their lack of intensity.

"I think I was a little angry going into the half," Bradley said. "I kind of felt like we let (Arkansas) back into it. We had let the crowd back into it, and I just came out in the second half aggressive and just a little upset.

"Shots started to fall."

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