They may have been 5-12. We may have opened as favorites. We may have had a 12 point lead with six minutes left. But damn, has a Razorback basketball win felt this sweet in a long time? The below chart (predicting win probability throughout the game per KenPom) is pretty indicative of how every Razorback fan probably felt watching this one.
Kentucky was led by freshman B.J. Boston who put up 17 points on 4/5 from behind the arc (coming into the game as a 20% three point shooter on the season). Olivier Sarr, the 7 foot center, also rattled in 3 shots from deep shooting 3/5 on the night. It felt like that kind of night where the hogs get their opponents best game of the season. In reality, they probably did. This was a Kentucky team playing with confidence and shooting at 53% from the three point line. As a lifelong Razorback fan I just knew this game wasn’t going to end well. We were slowly unraveling near the end of the second half in a manner too familiar to an Arkansas fan. An in-and-out free throw with 22 seconds left gave Kentucky a chance down two points. Instead of going for the tie they shot the three, and what do you know, they nailed it. The hogs pushed the ball quickly down the floor (Musselman refused to call a timeout, but that discussion is for another time) and missed a contested runner. With 4 seconds left Jalen Tate, a guard, came down with an offensive rebound surrounded by a group of taller Wildcats. He went back up and was fouled. The Hogs down one point sent the 63% free throw shooter to the line. We have all seen this. We all knew what was going to happen. We all dreaded watching the two shots from the charity stripe. But someone must have forgotten to teach Jalen Tate the mantra, “Hogs gon’ Hog” when he transferred from Northern Kentucky. He buried back to back free throws. Devo Davis sealed the game with his best Jalen Catalon impression, hawking down a cross court pass to steal the ball. The Hogs beat Kentucky 81-80 for the first time since 2014.
Offensively, the Hogs scoring was split relatively evenly between Jalen Tate (15), Moses Moody (14), Connor Vanover (12), and J.D. Notae (11). The steal from Devo Davis was impressive enough. To make a good story great, it has since been revealed that he told his teammates he was going to get the steal before the free throw went up. This game screamed Arkansas in the worst way at times, but finished in glorious fashion.
Check back tomorrow for some commentary on the film (provided by WarMachine2013). For now just enjoy the feeling, we have earned this one.
Oh Lord it’s hard to be humble to be an Arkansas Razorback fan.