Cats spoil Pel's homecoming, 63-58

Kentucky fans welcomed former "Unforgettable" John Pelphrey with cheers before the game. During the game it was all business as the fifth largest crowd in the history of Rupp Arena cheered their Wildcats on to victory over Pelphrey's Arkansas Razorbacks.

With the game in question in the final minutes of the game the Wildcat fans rose to their feet, expecting their Wildcats to do what they have spent most of the last century doing better than any other college basketball team, win.

Billy Gillispie's team did not disappoint, as the Wildcats won yet another close game, this one a 63-58 victory over the Arkansas Razorbacks.

After leading 27-22 at the break the Wildcats fell behind by as many nine-points in the second half. Sonny Weems led the Arkansas charge with 22 second half points, after being held to four in the first stanza.

At the 3:47 mark a Weems jumper made gave Arkansas a 53-50 lead. On Kentucky's ensuing possession Ramel Bradley was fouled and hit two free throws. Kentucky forced a missed field goal attempt Arkansas big man Charles Thomas at the rim. On Kentucky's end of the floor Joe Crawford hit a 12 foot jumper to put the Cats in front 54-53. The lead was short lived as Weems hit a fastbreak layup in transition to allow Arkansas to retake the lead.

A Weems foul sent Crawford to the line with a chance to put the Cats back in front. Crawford hit the first charity toss, but missed the second, tying the game at 55-55. Arkansas PG Gary Ervin attempted to answer the call with a tick under two minutes remaining. The Wildcats defense challenged the shot, Ervin's attempt missed, and Perry Stevenson grabbed plucked the miss out of the air. Seven seconds into the Kentucky possession Ramel Bradley buried a jumper to give the Cats the lead for good, 57-55.

Weems attempted to answer on the Arkansas end of the floor with a jumper, but came up empty. Patrick Patterson gobbled up the miss, and was then fouled with 51 seconds remaining. The cool frosh went to the line and calmly sank both his charity attempts to stretch the Kentucky lead to 59-55.

Eleven seconds later Stevenson fouled Arkansas's Patrick Beverly. Beverly missed his first charity toss, but hit the second, to cut the lead to 59-56. With a three-point lead and the ball the Cats appeared to be in charge, but a Ramel Bradley gave Arkansas life when he turned the ball over. What Ramel giveth Kentucky sophomore Derrick Jasper taketh away, as a Jasper theft at the expense of Beverly gave the ball back to Kentucky.

With Arkansas forced to foul the Hogs' Stefan Welsh sent Bradley to the free throw stripe. Bradley, normally deadly in the closing minutes of a game, hit one of the two attempts, to give the Cats the 60-56 lead with 22 seconds to play.

Beverly attempted to strike quickly, missing a layup three seconds into the possession. Bradley rebounded the miss and was sent back to the line by Beverly. Bradley hit his first attempt, but uncharacteristically missed the second, making the score 61-56, and Darion Townes gathered in the miss.

Weems then scored a quick strike basket to trim the lead to 61-58. Eight seconds remained to play. Timeouts were called by both teams to set the strategy for the final seconds. Kentucky inbounded the ball to Bradley, who was fouled by Beverly. Given a third opportunity to ice the game Bradley did not disappoint the Rupp Arena faithful, as he hit both attempts to give the Cats a 63-58 lead with six-seconds to play. A desperation attempted three by Weems was rebounded by Patrick Patterson as the game ended.

Kentucky trailed early in the game and did not take their first lead until a Jasper tip gave the Cats a 21-20 lead at the 6:47 mark. Stevenson extended the lead to 23-20 with a follow tip off a Patterson missed jumper on Kentucky's next possession. Over the remainder of the half Kentucky hit four free throws and Arkansas had a Weems dunk to set the first half 27-22 score.

Kentucky's senior backcourt duo of Crawford and Bradley scored 21 of Kentucky's final 31 points, and finished the game with eighteen points each. Patterson added 14 points for the Cats. Stevenson chipped in 8 for the home team and Jasper rounded out the scoring with 5. Patterson led the Cats with 11 boards, giving the freshman his sixth double-double of the season. Bradley led the Wildcats with five assists.

Arkansas was led in scoring by Weems with 26. Ervin added 8 for the Hogs, and Beverly scored 4, eight points below his average. Townes and Welsh scored 6 and 5 points respectively for Arkansas.

Kentucky won the battle of the boards 37-24, including a 12-2 advantage off the offensive glass, to help offset 40% shooting from the field. The offensive rebounds paved the way for Kentucky to outscore the Hogs 12 to 1 in second chance points.

For the second time in two games the Cats took better care off the ball, as they turned the ball over 12 times, and forced Arkansas into committing 11.


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