Kentucky Wildcats shut down Arkansas' dangerous 3-point shooters in 80-66 road win

After getting bombed by a dozen 3-point shots in an upset loss at Auburn, Kentucky took its perimeter defense to a new level on Thursday against the Southeastern Conference's top long-range shooting team.

The No. 23 Wildcats (14-4, 4-2 SEC) held Arkansas to only two treys on 12 attempts en route to an 80-66 win in Fayetteville. It marked John Calipari's first win at Bud Walton Arena in four trips as the UK head coach.

"Hard place to play, tough place to win," Calipari said. "... They're hard to beat in this building, and we played good."

Sophomore point guard Tyler Ulis scored a career-high 24 points, highlighted by a 14-for-15 night at the free throw line to lead four Kentucky players in double figures. The Cats also got 19 points from freshman guard Jamal Murray, 12 points from junior forward Derek Willis and 11 from freshman center Skal Labissiere. Willis and Labissiere also combined for 10 rebounds and seven blocked shots.

The Cats shot only 42 percent, but owned a 43-34 advantage on the glass had a season-low six turnovers. 

https://twitter.com/JDrumUK/status/690365344284811269

Kentucky, which led 36-24 at the half, stretched the lead to as many as 18 points in the second half as Arkansas (9-9, 3-3 SEC) never threatened. The Cats survived a seven-minute field goal drought late in the game by knocking down 10 of 12 free throws during the stretch.

The Razorbacks, who were held to 40 percent (22 of 50) from the field, were led by Dusty Hannahs with 20 points.

In this AllWildcats “Rapid Recap” feature, we touch on some quick-hitters from the game...

KEY MOMENT:

Coming off a disappointing loss, Kentucky jumped on Arkansas from the opening tip, racing to a 17-7 lead. Willis, who earned only his second career starting assignment, contributed right away with five points, two rebounds, two blocked shots and an assist. Alex Poythress also had six points and four rebounds in the game's opening segment. Their efforts, combined with Labissiere's best showing since early December, helped UK overcome a 3-for-20 shooting performance by its three-man backcourt in the first half. The Cats' guards hit their stride in the second half, and Arkansas was never able to get the deficit under double digits.

BY THE NUMBERS:

1 - Turnover by Ulis in 38 minutes of action against Arkansas' pressure defense.

1st - Double-figure scoring game for Labissiere since scoring 10 against EKU on Dec. 9.

5 - Fast-break points for the Razorbacks, who entered the matchup leading the SEC at 84 points per game.

19 - Second-chance points for UK on 16 offensive rebounds.

:28 - Time that Arkansas held a lead, at 1-0.

QUOTABLE:

"On the road, we've learned we have to be more locked in mentally and listen to what coach is saying, just be more in tune." -- UK freshman Jamal Murray.

UP NEXT:

It's an NBA-like quick turnaround for Kentucky, who returns to action Saturday at Rupp Arena against Vanderbilt in a 4 ET tipoff on ESPN. The Commodores (11-7, 3-3 SEC), who are coming off an 88-74 win at Tennessee, made their way to Lexington on Thursday afternoon in an effort to beat the major snowstorm expected to drop almost a foot of snow in the Bluegrass over the next two days.


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