Kentucky head coach John Calipari watches his team in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Georgia in Lexington, Ky., Tuesday, Jan 21, 2020. Kentucky won 89-79. (AP Photo/James Crisp)

Arkansas survives a struggling Kentucky team

The Arkansas Razorbacks escaped a close one in Lexington Tuesday night, narrowly beating the struggling Kentucky Wildcats 81-80.

Arkansas has now won five of its last six games, while Kentucky drops its fourth consecutive game in an anomalous season for coach John Calipari.

With Tuesday’s loss, Calipari has now lost more games this season than in any other season as the head coach of Kentucky. The Wildcats’ chances of making the NCAA Tournament this year continue to grow slimmer, a tournament they haven’t missed in eight years.

Arkansas’ Arduous Win

Entering Tuesday’s game, Arkansas hadn’t beaten Kentucky since 2014, but they made sure to change that.

Jalen Tate and Moses Moody commanded the offense for the Razorbacks. Tate dropped 15 points in the win, including the game-winning free throws. Moody added 14 points on 4-6 shooting from behind the arc.

Brandon Boston Jr. led Kentucky with 17 points and was the only starter to shoot above 50 percent from the field. The Wildcats also turned the ball over eleven times and shot just 64 percent on free throws. Despite the poor overall shooting, Kentucky still shot very well from three-point range, sinking over 53 percent of their threes.

Kentucky remained close for the entire game and even had the lead with under 20 seconds remaining. Boston Jr. and Davion Mintz made back-to-back threes for Kentucky in the final 30 seconds, giving them a one point lead.

Arkansas proceeded to miss the game-winner, get the offensive rebound and draw the foul on the second attempt. A controversial call, the foul was called on Kentucky’s Jacob Toppin after he contested Tate’s rebound, appearing to get all ball. Tate sank both free throws for Arkansas to take a 81-80 lead, and with four seconds remaining, Kentucky couldn’t get it done.

March Madness Implications

Prior to Tuesday’s win, Arkansas was projected as a 10-seed in the NCAA Tournament. With several games left to play, there’s plenty of room for variation in their placement. If they can win their big games against Missouri and Alabama, they could rise high. On the contrary, losing most of the remaining games could take them down, potentially even among the first four out.

Kentucky’s route to the NCAA Tournament is a much more difficult one. They practically have to win out for their remaining regular-season games, as well as win the SEC Tournament. And with just five wins on the year, that is a steep mountain to climb, but the possibility still remains.

About Tuck Cryar

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