Arkansas' 5 most memorable wins over Kentucky
FAYETTEVILLE — Eric Musselman first experienced Kentucky basketball during his one season as an assistant coach at LSU.
The Wildcats escaped Baton Rouge with their perfect record intact thanks to a late bucket by Karl-Anthony Towns that helped them beat the Tigers 71-69. It’s a game the first-year Arkansas coach remembers vividly.
With No. 10 Kentucky set to come to Fayetteville on Saturday, though, Musselman will have an opportunity to erase that bad memory from five years ago. He’ll also have the support of what’s expected to be a raucous crowd inside Bud Walton Arena.
“When you walk in the building, there’s a buzz,” Musselman said. “There’s going to be a buzz Saturday. I know it. I haven’t been at Arkansas when we’ve played Kentucky, but I know there’s going to be a buzz, just as my phone every 10 seconds with people asking for tickets.”
There’s always excitement surrounding the Kentucky game, but it’s reached a fever pitch this season. The Razorbacks are 14-2 under their new head coach, who has fans thinking about March Madness sooner than expected. A win on Saturday likely gets Arkansas ranked in the AP poll for the first time in more than three years.
However, it won’t be easy. Even though they’ve lost four games, including a surprising upset at South Carolina earlier this week, the Wildcats - as always - are still loaded with projected NBA Draft picks.
“The only way that we are going to be able to play and compete with Kentucky is if we play our ‘A’ game,” Musselman said. “We can’t bring a ‘B+’ game and expect to compete. We have to bring our ‘A+’ game to compete with this team. I truly believe that.”
If Arkansas does manage to pull off the victory, there’s a good chance - given the circumstances - it could become one of the Razorbacks’ most memorable wins in the series.
Here’s a look at HawgBeat’s top five, as it stands today…
5. Feb. 20, 1999 - Arkansas 74, No. 6 Kentucky 70
Needing to finish the season strong to stay on the right side of the bubble, the Razorbacks did just that with back-to-back upsets of top-10 teams. A few days before fans stormed the court following a big win over No. 2 Auburn, Arkansas survived a furious rally in the last few minutes to beat Kentucky 74-70.
It looked like the Razorbacks would run away with it, as they built a 13-point lead, but the Wildcats got back into it with an 11-0 run and then pulled within one with about three minutes remaining. Luckily, they missed their last six shots - including a putback attempt that popped out of the hoop and sat on the back of the rim for a jump ball.
4. Feb. 23, 2011 - Arkansas 77, No. 22 Kentucky 76 (OT)
It took four tries and an overtime period, but John Pelphrey finally took down his alma mater.
Rotnei Clark led the way with 26 points and Marshawn Powell contributed a double-double with 22 points and 10 rebounds, but it was a fastbreak layup by Marcus Britt with 17 seconds left that proved to be the different. Although he scored 26 points for the Wildcats, Brandon Knight couldn’t get any of his three potential game-winning shots to fall in the final seven seconds.
3. Jan. 25, 1992 - No. 9 Arkansas 105, No. 8 Kentucky 88
New to the conference, Arkansas didn’t take long to introduce itself to the SEC. In just their seventh conference game, the Razorbacks beat the Wildcats in convincing fashion to end their 31-game winning streak inside Rupp Arena.
The trio of Lee Mayberry (23), Oliver Miller (19) and Todd Day (18) combined for 60 points themselves, while Kentucky star Jamal Mashburn was effectively shutdown (4 points on 2-of-7 shooting and 4 rebounds). Instead, Pelphrey - the future Arkansas coach - scored 22.
2. Jan. 29, 1995 - No. 9 Arkansas 94, No. 5 Kentucky 92
CBS decided to air the top-10 showdown between Arkansas and Kentucky as a lead-in to ABC’s broadcast of Super Bowl XXIX and the game didn’t disappoint.
Scotty Thurman hit a jumper with 10.6 seconds left to left the Razorbacks to a thrilling 94-92 victory in front of a then-record 20,298 fans at Bud Walton Arena.
1. Jan. 14, 2014 - Arkansas 87, No. 13 Kentucky 85 (OT)
One of the most famous dunks in UA history came came when Michael Qualls soared above the rim to grab a missed three-pointer by Rashad Madden and slammed home the putback at the buzzer to beat Kentucky.
Replay review put two-tenths of a second back on the clock, but the Wildcats’ attempt at a full-court pass got stuck in the scoreboard, effectively sealing the thrilling 87-85 victory.
That play was necessary because of a game-tying James Young three-pointer with 10.2 seconds left. After a three-point play by Alandise Harris put the Razorbacks up with 9.4 seconds remaining, Kentucky got a similar shot by Andrew Harrison at the end of regulation, which forced overtime.
Feb. 10, 1993 - No. 14 Arkansas 101, No. 2 Kentucky 94 (BOX SCORE)
One of eight straight games in the series in which both teams were ranked in the top 15, Arkansas won its second straight game over Kentucky behind 22 points and eight rebounds off the bench from a true freshman playing his seventh career game - Corliss Williamson.
Feb. 9, 1994 - No. 3 Arkansas 90, No. 4 Kentucky 82 (BOX SCORE)
In a top-five showdown at Rupp Arena, Thurman dropped 26 points and Williamson contributed a double-double (21 points, 14 rebounds) to lead the Razorbacks to victory in their national championship season.
Feb. 27, 2014 - Arkansas 71, No. 17 Kentucky 67 (OT) (BOX SCORE)
About a month and a half after Qualls’ dunk, Arkansas traveled to Lexington and - even though it wasn’t as dramatic - replicated its overtime victory from earlier in the season.