FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — In front of a sellout crowd in the regular season finale the Arkansas basketball team fell to #23 Kentucky, 88-79. The Hogs end their season 7-9 in SEC with three straight losses.
The Razorbacks saw their three game win streak against the Wildcats snapped in the process. It's the second time in the Eric Musselman era that one of his team finished under .500 in SEC play.
The high intensity first half was filled with action packed dunks, a deafening Bud Walton Arena and Kentucky's Oscar Tshiebwe doing whatever he pleased.
Off the bench Ricky Council paced the Arkansas offense with eight points in the opening frame, including one ferocious slam.
In the two team's first meeting back in Janaury the Razorback defense held Tshiebwe to just seven points and seven rebounds. In just the first half on Saturday the Kentucky big man had twelve points and nine rebounds.
Both Makhi and Mikel Mitchell racked up two first half fouls allowing Tshiebwe to go to work.
The Wildcats just 52% in the first half and took a 40-36 lead into the locker room. Kentucky was a perfect 9 for 9 from the free throw line in the first 20 minutes, but Arkansas missed five.
Nick Smith Jr's team leading nine points helped cut the deficit to four at halftime.
Early in the second half Devo Davis would be ejected from the game after drawing two technicals. The Wildcats would open an eleven point lead with Antonio Reeves up to 26 points.
The Arkansas offense was down to 35% shooting and the deficit remained at double digits at the under twelve timeout.
Smith would cut the deficit to five with 10:36 to play, the freshman was up to twelve points on 5-8 shooting.
Kentucky led by six with under seven to go in the game and the Hogs were up to eight missed free throws. It was the third consecutive game the team had seven or more missed shots from the line.
Jacob Toppin's second three of the half would push the Kentucky lead back to nine. He had 13 points on the afternoon.
The Wildcats held firm on their second half double digit lead for the win. The Hogs and Kentucky split their season series.
Reeves led all scorers with 36 points, While Smith led Arkansas with 17.
Arkansas ends the SEC schedule 7-9 with the conference tournament coming up next week in Nashville.