Arkansas (19-9, 8-7) picked up a huge 71-67 overtime win to sweep Kentucky Thursday night in Rupp Arena.
The win boosted Arkansas’ resume and strengthened their tournament hopes. With the Hogs win over a ranked opponent they are currently sitting as one of the last four teams to get into the tournament.
Qualls, who had the game winning dunk the last time the two teams faced each other, led Arkansas with 14 points and three steals. Rashad Madden (12 points), Coty Clarke (11 points) and Anthlon Bell (10 points) also scored in double figures.
It wasn’t the prettiest game for Arkansas, but they came up with a huge win on the road when they needed it most. Both teams combined for 38 turnovers. Arkansas committed 20 turnovers, which is rare but luckily they forced 18. Arkansas was also outrebounded 47-38 and they gave up 26 offensive boards (nine to Willie Cauley-Stein).
The Hogs, however, picked up the advantaged on the offensive end. Arkansas was a perfect 16-of-16 at the free throw line for the night. They also shot 41.4 percent (24-58) from the field and 36.8 percent (7-19) from behind the arc. Kentucky shot 34.2 percent (26-76).
This is a good, John Calipari Kentucky team, who were supposed to go 40-0 this season and Arkansas beat them on the road. Yes, Arkansas beat a ranked opponent on the road. Not just on the road, at Rupp Arena. The last time Arkansas won at Rupp Arena was in February of 1994 (National Championship season).
Arkansas has now won six of their last seven and are one point away from being on a seven game win streak. They now have a winning record in the SEC. They join Florida as being the only two teams in the SEC to beat at least two ranked opponents this season.
What the Hogs absolutely cannot do is go lose one of their final three games. Georiga, Ole Miss and Alabama are all that is left in the regular season. They must, no questions asked, get these last three wins. Plus, they need to get a win or two in the SEC tournament and we will be looking at an Arkansas tournament appearance. Not even a NIT appearance, a NCAA Tournament appearance.
With two wins over Kentucky and wins over SMU and Minnesota, Arkansas is now 4-5 against top 50 RPI teams this season. Other bubble teams in the SEC (Georgia, Tennessee, Missouri) do not have quality wins like Arkansas.
If you’re a bubble team, you have to give the committee a reason to give you a bid to the tournament. Arkansas win over Kentucky definitely gave them a reason to be in the big dance.
Arkansas fans are now excited about what is in store for Arkansas basketball.
The Hogs will face Georgia Saturday in Bud Walton Arena in front of a sold out crowd. The game was sold out before the Kentucky game, this is just how excited fans are.