FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Junior Coty Clarke recorded his first career double-double to lead the University of Arkansas basketball team to its biggest win over the Kentucky Wildcats at Bud Walton Arena with a 13-point victory, 73-60, in front of a sold out crowd on Saturday afternoon.
Clarke’s double-double along with 30 Razorback points off turnovers and 20 offensive rebounds allowed Arkansas (18-11, 9-7 SEC) to take down Kentucky (20-9, 11-5 SEC) for the second consecutive time at “The Basketball Palace of Mid-America.”
“It was a heck of an effort from our guys,” head coach Mike Anderson said. “We came out and defended well and did a good job of taking Kentucky out of what they wanted to do. Our guys gave 110 percent in effort.”
Clarke recorded 14-points, a game-high 12 rebounds and a game-high six assists in Arkansas’ win over the Wildcats. A total of three Razorbacks finished the game in double-digits with Young contributing 13 points and Powell adding 15 with nine rebounds, just one shy of a double-double.
“Coach emphasized defense, making the wear and tear part of the game and taking advantage of their lack of bench depth,” Clarke said. “We amped it up in the second half and we clicked defensively.”
The Razorback defense put on a show as they forced Kentucky to a season-high 19 turnovers that resulted in the 30 points for the Hogs. Arkansas also nabbed 11 steals in the win, while also edging Kentucky on the glass 44-37.
“Our defense was good early,” Anderson said. “In the second half we really established our identity on defense and it increased our offense. Our blue collar group got our lead up and made Kentucky exert a lot of energy.”
In the opening minutes, the Razorbacks found themselves trailing the Wildcats by seven; however it was Clarke who jump started the offense by scoring the first four points for the Razorbacks. With a little help from the rowdy Razorback crowd the Arkansas offense began to hit its stride as Michael Qualls drained a three-pointer to put Arkansas up on the Wildcats 13-12, capping a 7-0 run. Arkansas and Kentucky would keep it close throughout the remainder of the first, with Arkansas grabbing hold of a slender three-point lead to close the first, 32-29.
Leading the Razorbacks in the first half was Powell with seven-points and five boards. Clarke also chipped in six points and five boards. The Arkansas defense forced 11 first-half Wildcat turnovers, converting them into 13 Razorback points.
Arkansas got off to a swift start to begin the second half as the Razorbacks strung together an 11-0 run highlighted by a three-point play by Powell, who dropped down a layup and drew a foul, to put Arkansas up 43-31. Sophomore Hunter Mickelson would come up big for the Razorbacks with a steal, notching Kentucky’s 18th turnover of the game, and following it with a dunk to send everyone in Bud Walton Arena to their feet, 59-45.
The Razorback defense consumed the Wildcats as Kentucky attempted just eight field goals in the first 14:30 in the second half. Arkansas would keep up the momentum and keep Kentucky out of reach, closing out the game 73-60.
The Razorbacks’ 13-point victory margin was the largest by a Razorback team against Kentucky at Bud Walton Arena and Arkansas improved to 15-1 at Bud Walton Arena this season.
Arkansas hits the road to Columbia, Mo., to face the Missouri Tigers in a mid-week showdown Tuesday night, March 5. Tipoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. on ESPN.
For more information regarding Razorback men’s basketball or University of Arkansas athletics, please visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.