FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — On Monday, Coach John Calipari tried to fuel his team's competitive ire by noting how opponents were not lavishing "glowing remarks" on Kentucky. Tuesday brought reason for compliments. But the glow will have to wait for another game.
Kentucky showed plenty of grit and resolve. But an Arkansas team desperate after losing its first two Southeastern Conference games, had no shortage of those qualities.
Arkansas won 87-85 by the barest of margins in a game that saw 60 fouls called — 31 against UK and 29 against Arkansas. With two-tenths of a second left, Michael Qualls dunked on a putback to give the Razorbacks an 87-85 victory in overtime.
Qualls, the Hogs' leading scorer, had made only three of 22 shots in the team's first two Southeastern Conference games. He made only five of 14 against UK, but the final two of his 18 points decided a game filled with would-be heroes.
Alandise Harris put Arkansas ahead 74-71 on a three-point play with 9.5 seconds left in regulation. With the shot clock inside five seconds, he drove the lane and banked in a shot as Willie Cauley-Stein tried to take a charge. UK had not successfully taken a charge all season. That marked only the second Arkansas basket in the final 12:27 of the second half.
Kentucky appeared to set up its best three-point shooter, James Young, for the attempt to tie it. But he passed when facing two defenders at the three-point arc.
His pass found Andrew Harrison standing alone in front of the UK bench. His swish tied it with 1.2 seconds left and sent it to overtime.
Neither team took charge in overtime.
Arkansas led 85-82 with less than 15 seconds left. UK rebounded the miss and got Young a second chance. He swished the shot to tie it with 10.2 seconds left.
Arkansas missed a potential game-winning three-pointer, but Qualls got to the ball before Young and slammed home the putback with two-tenths of a second left.
Kentucky fell to 12-4 overall and 2-1 in the SEC. Young led UK with 23 points. Julius Randle added 20 points and 14 rebounds. Aaron Harrison scored 16 points.
Arkansas improved to 12-4 overall. Rashad Madden matched Qualls' 18 points.
Kentucky trailed 43-41 at halftime. That marked something of a victory given Aaron Harrison's early foul trouble and UK's turnover-prone play.
The Cats, who came into the game averaging 12.6 turnovers, committed 10 in the first 13 minutes.
The giveaways nullified Kentucky's 68.4-percent shooting (13 of 19) and enabled Arkansas to survive its continuing misfires (13 of 36 in the half).
The Hogs made only 36.9 percent of their shots in losing their first two SEC games. Leading scorer Qualls made only three of 22 shots in those games.
But Qualls matched those three baskets in the first half. His three-pointer (one of 11 from beyond the arc in the three most recent games) helped Arkansas get off to an early 8-2 lead.
Worse for Kentucky, Aaron Harrison picked up his second foul on a charge with 18:24 left.
Rather than sit out the rest of the half, Harrison returned for a simple reason: UK needed all hands on deck. The second of his back-to-back three-pointers gave the Cats their first lead, 18-17.
An odd sequence that saw the teams shoot eight free throws without a second ticking off the clock hurt Kentucky. Three times the referees called fouls for excessive jockeying for potential rebounds as free throw shooters took foul shots.
The result: With 5:02 remaining on the clock, Marcus Lee made one of four free throws for UK while Arkansas players made four of four. That put the Cats behind 34-28, which matched the largest deficit to that point.
With the resulting possession, Mardracus Wade hit a three-pointer from the top of the key.
Kentucky scored the next 10 points to regain the lead.
Kikko Haydar's two free throws with 13.5 seconds left set the halftime score. It ended the scoring in a half that saw the teams combine for 28 fouls and 38 free throws.
UK Coach John Calipari called timeout less than 90 seconds into the second half. Freshman Bobby Portis, Arkansas' lone McDonald's All-American, had scored his second basket of the half to put the Cats behind 47-43.
The deficit grew no larger than 52-45.
Kentucky trailed 61-55 when Young hit a three-pointer with 11:53 left. That steadied the Cats and gave him 20 points.
Defense enabled Kentucky to grind away at the deficit. The Cats held Arkansas without a basket for more than seven minutes (from the 12:27 mark until only 5:04 remained). In that time, Arkansas missed seven shots and Kentucky erased a six-point deficit and took a 70-67 lead.
Madden snapped the dry spell with a high-arcing three-pointer that tied it at 70-70 and set up the decisive final stretch.
Jerry Tipton: (859) 231-3227. Twitter: @JerryTipton. Blog: ukbasketball.bloginky.com.