Date story published: Monday, February 26, 2001
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- There's no cure for the common cold. There's no end to critics questioning the actions of this hamlet's favorite son, Bill Clinton.
Kentucky reminded us of another absolute certainty yesterday: Basketball has no substitute for putting the ball in the basket.
So even though UK met many of its pre-game objectives and validated itself as a team that could advance deep into next month's NCAA Tournament, Arkansas won 82-78.
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"We had a lot of positive things happen for us," UK Coach Tubby Smith said. "If we had shot the ball like we had been shooting it, we would have won the game."
Kentucky came into the game as the best shooting team in the Southeastern Conference. The Cats' 38.7-percent accuracy against Arkansas was their second worst of the season.
The misses negated a checklist of achievements.
Control the tempo by limiting Arkansas' fast-break opportunities? Check.
Limit turnovers against Arkansas' unorthodox "40 minutes of hell" defensive pressure? Check.
Remain poised in the carnival atmosphere of Bud Walton Arena? Check.
Exploit the size advantage inside? Check.
But shoot 31.7 percent in the second half? Gone goes a 47-41 halftime lead, and a two-game lead in the SEC regular-season race gets sliced in half. UK, which had an eight-game winning streak snapped, fell to 18-8 overall and 11-3 in the league. Florida and Ole Miss are tied for second at 10-4 with two games left.
Arkansas, 17-9 overall and 8-6 in the SEC, felt it needed the win to made a case for an NCAA Tournament bid. Victory came, the Hogs said, because of the recent return to their famed pressure defense and high-paced offense.
So although Kentucky committed only 13 turnovers, Arkansas saw fatigue as a reason UK's main guns -- Tayshaun Prince and Keith Bogans -- shot blanks in the second half. Bogans, who carried the Cats with 17 first-half points, missed all six of his shots in a scoreless second half. Prince's only second-half basket came 19 seconds after intermission.
"Kentucky hasn't really played a game like this except, maybe (against) Florida," Arkansas Coach Nolan Richardson said, "and I don't think (the Gators) get after you like we do all the time. I told our guys, 'I don't care if you foul 3,000 times. That's the way we want to play."
Prince and Bogans made only one of 13 second-half shots as a 47-41 halftime lead disappeared. Smith saw fatigue as a factor. "Just too many minutes," the UK coach said. "Thirty-six (Bogans) and 34 (Prince) minutes. That's too many minutes for them. That's my fault, probably. I should have done a better job subbing for them."
Bogans and Prince denied they got tired. "I don't think I ran out of gas," said Bogans, who missed his six second-half shots. "I live to play a 40-minute game."
Prince, who had made 60 of 102 shots in the last seven games before shooting 5-for-15 here, said, "I'm never tired when it comes to game time."
When told that Bogans and Prince denied being tired in the second half, Smith rolled his eyes. "When you don't make a shot in the second half, you better say you're tired," the UK coach said. "Or what was it?"
Bogans, who scored 23 points in the second half against LSU Wednesday, poured in 17 in the first half. Three came on a fast-break layup with Arkansas' Jannero Pargo on his back. "I thought I couldn't miss," he said of the first half. "In the second half, I come out and even my little chip-shots weren't falling."
Prince also went from hot to cold. His first half included a rare right-handed shot (a short flip in the lane). He opened the second half with the shot that he has cited as a sign of a scoring binge to come: the patented baby hook, which Prince hit to give UK its largest lead, 49-41 with 19:41 left.
"I don't know what happened," Prince said of shooting 0-for-6 the rest of the way. "Sometimes I got some real wide-open looks. They didn't fall, so you know, maybe I was too wide open."
Arkansas overcame Kentucky by making six second-half three-pointers.
"It's been a real bugaboo for us all year long: guarding the three," Smith said. "We can't get to the three-point shooter. We're not very quick closing out on the (shooter). If we stay out on guys, it looks like they penetrate right on by to the basket. We had a definite problem there."
Arkansas' sixth three-pointer applied the coup de grace. After falling behind 76-70, UK closed within 76-72 and got five shots at getting closer. All missed.
Then Pargo dueled Bogans one on one at the top of the key. After feinting a drive, Pargo rose and hit a three-pointer. It put the Hogs ahead 79-72 with 1:22 left.
"Oh man, that broke their back right there," Arkansas guard Charles Tatum said. "I think they had a little hope till Pargo just stabbed them in the back with a dagger."
Smith sympathized with Bogans' difficult defensive position in trying to stop Pargo's shot.
"It's impossible," the UK coach said.
So was winning with the way Kentucky shot.