Arkansas' Eric Ferguson answered Sparks' shot with a 3-pointer that pulled Arkansas within a point and then sent Chuck Hayes to the line for the Wildcats. Hayes missed, and Ferguson got the ball once more, launching a 3 that seemed to hang in the air before it clanged away harmlessly. The relieved Wildcats (16-2, 7-0 Southeastern Conference) held their places, then broke into smiles as they trotted for the locker room with the win.
The game featured several junctures where the Wildcats appeared primed to break it open, but the Razorbacks (14-6, 2-5) were able to make key shots and force enough turnovers to keep Kentucky on its heels for stretches in both halves.
The Razorbacks, lacking a true point guard, relied often on Brewer to direct the offense. But Brewer went down at the 10:42 mark of the second half after landing awkwardly on his left ankle. The score was 46-46. By the time he came back into the game a couple of minutes later, Arkansas was down 55-50.
Brewer wasn't a factor after his return, and he clearly favored the ankle. He had only one field goal and four free throws in the second half.
Two free throws by Famutimi made it 55-52, and Modica added one for 55-53. But then Kentucky put together a 9-3 run, for a 64-57 lead with 3:01 to play. Rondo scored the last field goal of the run, leaping for an uncontested lay in after Sparks passed to Azubuike, who fed Rondo.
On the Razorback end, Brewer missed underneath but Famutimi dropped in a 3 for 64-61.
Perry dropped in a 2 for 66-61 but Modica answered, getting fouled as he made a 2. The free throw was good 66-64 with 53.2 seconds to play.
Kentucky displayed some calm and effective shooting early to move to an 18-14 lead, with Ravi Moss making a soft-handed 2 with 11:45 to play.
But Arkansas settled down after a couple of turnovers, and a 2 by Jonathan Modica brought the Kentucky lead to 23-20 with a little under eight minutes to go in the period.
As Arkansas was primed to make a move, the Razorbacks turned the ball over, enabling Rondo to race down the court, make a behind-the-back pass to Azubuike for a jam and a 25-22 lead that briefly quieted the Walton Arena crowd with 6:52 to play.
A Razorback turnover followed, with Rondo taking the pass from Patrick Sparks for 27-22 at the 6:13 mark.
Here it looked like Kentucky would make its move to a comfortable lead. But with Kentucky up 28-26 at the 4:55 mark, Kentucky needed all of the 35-second clock for an Azubuike 2-pointer.
Famutimi made a 2 for 30-28, and Brewer next drew a foul, making both shots to tie the game at 30-30 with 3:08 showing on the first-half clock. Thomas added one foul shot, and a moment later found Townes under the basket for a 32-30 Arkansas lead with 1:54 to play. Brewer added a foul shot, and Azubuike brought the halftime margin to 33-32.
Brewer had 12 points in the first half.
Chuck Hayes, the Wildcats leading rebounder played only five minutes in the first period, wearing a clear mask to protect a broken nose sustained the previous Tuesday against Tennessee. He had one rebound and two points in the period and finished with four points and two rebounds in 20 minutes on the court.
Michael Jones went down 50 seconds into the game after scoring the Razorbacks second basket. He didn't return in the period.