Kentucky falls to Arkansas in OT when Knight runs out of heroics

Pelphrey gets first win against ex-team as Hogs top Cats in OT

jtipton@herald-leader.comFebruary 24, 2011 

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Another loss on the road in the Southeastern Conference left Kentucky ... what? Demoralized? Perplexed? Resigned? Wild-eyed mad?

After Arkansas beat UK 77-76 in overtime Wednesday night, Coach John Calipari let reporters know his preferred reaction.

"You'd have to ask them," he said of the UK players' reaction. "I know I'm angry."

Bringing about the proper response to a historic sixth SEC road loss is part of coaching, Calipari said. Since the SEC went to divisional play in 1991-92, no Kentucky team had lost six road games. That the losses have come by a total of 18 points only heightened the frustration.

"You've got to get sick and tired of it," Calipari said, "and change it. Sometimes you've got to get angry with each other."

When asked which player or players should go ballistic on his teammates and say he's not going to take it any more, Calipari said softly, "Probably Brandon would be the only one."

Freshman Brandon Knight did nearly everything else for Kentucky this night. He scored a career-high 26 points.

But a career-high 43 minutes might have contributed to his and Kentucky's undoing. After missing two shots to win it in the final seconds of regulation, Knight missed three more potential game-winners in the final seconds of overtime.

"He might have been a little fatigued," said Arkansas guard Rotnei Clarke, whose 26 points led the Hogs.

Calipari, who voiced his anger about rebounds the Cats did not secure, rejected fatigue as a factor.

"Rotnei Clarke played as many minutes as Brandon played," the UK coach said. (Actually Clarke played one more minute than Knight.) "And he was pretty fresh."

Arkansas Coach John Pelphrey became the first former UK player besides C.M. Newton to beat Kentucky.

"I can't tell you what we did except compete," Pelphrey said. "Nobody in this league is going to let you win. You have to win the game."

That reinforced Calipari's point about willpower as Kentucky fell to 19-8 overall and 7-6 in the SEC. The latter leaves the Cats tied with Tennessee for fourth place in the Eastern Division.

Arkansas improved to 17-10 overall and 6-7 in the SEC.

Senior Marcus Britt put Arkansas ahead 77-76 with 12.4 seconds left in overtime. Britt completed an Arkansas fast-break with a layup after Knight lost the ball.

"I thought my arm got hit," Knight said of his turnover. "But you can't complain about the calls."

Kentucky still had a chance to win it. Actually, three chances. The Cats called time to plot the finish.

Knight got off a fairly quick contested driving shot and it was short. When Arkansas could not secure the rebound, Knight got the ball back and got off a heavily contested jumper from the left baseline. It, too, was short. But, again, Arkansas let the rebound slip away.

Given a third opportunity, UK called time with 1.8 seconds left. But Knight's rushed three-pointer from the left corner went long.

"Josh (Harrellson) was wide open right there on the block," Calipari said. "... We threw to the wrong guy."

But, Calipari said, rebounds that Kentucky did not secure at the end of regulation made the difference.

With Arkansas leading 66-65, Clarke missed a wild drive. But Delvon Johnson, playing with a hip pointer injury, beat Harrellson to the rebound and made the putback while being fouled by the UK big man.

With Kentucky leading 70-68, Julysses Nobles missed a driving shot with 40 seconds left. The rebound bounced free under the basket. Nobles beat Harrellson to the ball, drove back to the perimeter, gathered himself and drove to the tying score with 32.7 seconds left.

"That's why we lost," Calipari said. "They wanted it more than we wanted it. ... You either come up with the ball or lose the game."

After Knight missed the three shots at the end, Arkansas had its first victory in four overtime games this season.

"The good Lord was watching over us because he's not missing that very often," Pelphrey said of Knight.

When asked what went through his mind as Knight took shot after shot after shot to win it, Pelphrey said, "Don't remind me. ... I did not enjoy sitting there watching him keep shooting."

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