LEXINGTON, Ky. – Courtney Fortson tallied 21 points for the Arkansas men’s basketball team at Rupp Arena on Saturday afternoon, but opening runs in each half by the No. 2 Kentucky Wildcats proved to be the ultimate difference maker as the Razorbacks fell, 101-70.
Arkansas (8-11, 1-3 SEC) was playing in its second consecutive Thursday-Saturday contest in as many weeks and appeared to be a step slow after a tough game with the Florida Gators on Thursday. Kentucky (19-0, 4-0 SEC) remains the only undefeated team in the nation and should be the unanimous No. 1 team in the country when the new polls are released on Monday.
"We talked about not getting overwhelmed, but that didn’t happen," Arkansas head coach John Pelphrey said. "We fell behind 10-0 and didn’t do what we needed to do. I thought we competed well in the second half though."
It was a rough start for the Razorbacks as they fell behind 10-0 before Mike Washington converted a three-point play at 17:12. The Wildcats were hot from the floor and Arkansas failed to make many plays, turning the ball over several times in the opening moments. The Wildcats stunning shooting and Arkansas’ inability to control the ball was the story throughout the opening 20 minutes of action as Kentucky built a huge lead. The first half would end with Arkansas trailing 57-27.
The Razorbacks did get solid efforts from Mike Washington and Courtney Fortson who each scored 11 points. Foul issues also plagued Arkansas in the opening half as three Razorbacks, Washington, Marshawn Powell and Stef Welsh each came into the final period with three.
Arkansas played much better in the second half, improving its shooting percentage by nearly 20 percent and making 15 of 17 free throw attempts. After scoring just 27 points in the opening half, Arkansas came back in the second to score 43 points and finish the contest with 70. The final 20 minutes of play were also instrumental in building Arkansas depth on the court as the Razorbacks’ first half foul trouble forced the Hogs to play 11 players with 10 of the 11 playing a minimum of six minutes.
Behind Fortson’s 21 points, Rotnei Clarke scored 16 and Mike Washington, who played just 19 minutes before fouling out tallied 11. Powell pulled down eight rebounds to lead the Hogs. Shooting just 30 percent from the field for the game, Arkansas did do an excellent job at the free throw line as they hit 23 of 29 for the game for 79.3 percent.
The Razorbacks are back in action on Thursday night, January 28, when they host the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Bud Walton Arena at 8 p.m. For more information regarding Razorback men’s basketball or University of Arkansas athletics, please visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.