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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – A stellar effort by University of Arkansas freshman forward Jason Henry could not propel the Razorbacks (13-10, 1-9) past Jodie Meeks and the Kentucky Wildcats (18-7, 7-3) on Saturday at Bud Walton Arena as the Hogs fell 79-63 in front of a crowd of 19,041. Henry had his best defensive showing of the year against the Wildcats, pulling down a career-high 11 rebounds, five on the offensive end. Inserting himself in every aspect of the ballgame, Henry often found himself on the ground chasing balls and fighting for possession throughout both halves of the contest. His effort, which included 12 points, was the driving force for the Hogs for much of the game.
Juniors Michael Washington and Stefan Welsh led the Razorbacks with 14 points each and Washington added eight rebounds. Freshman Rotnei Clarke posted 12 points for the Hogs.
Throughout the game, Arkansas was unable to find an answer for Meeks, the SEC’s leading scorer who entered the contest at averaging 25 points per game.
Meeks set a Bud Walton Arena record 45 points on 17-of-24 shooting on Saturday. The previous record was 39 points, set by Al Dillard during the 1993-94 season.
After closing the gap to as little as five with under ten minutes to play in the first half, Arkansas never got closer than 11 in the second half, as the Wildcats overpowered the Razorbacks with 14-of-27 shooting in the last 20 minutes, on their way to their eighteenth win of the season.
Down 64-49 with 5:31 to play, Henry stripped the ball from Meeks, his fifth steal of the game, and stormed down the court for a spinning layup, giving the Hogs new life. A defensive stop and a dunk by Washington brought the crowd to their feet one last time.
From tipoff, the Hogs and Cats raced up and down the floor, trading baskets and turnovers through much of the first half. Kentucky committed ten first-half turnovers but the Razorbacks were unable to capitalize, only scoring seven points off turnovers in the first twenty minutes.
The big men got the Razorbacks going as Washington and Michael Sanchez combined to score Arkansas’ first eight points. Sanchez dished the ball under the hoop for a Washington dunk to start the scoring for the Razorbacks.
Arkansas trailed by as many as 10 in the first half, but were persistent, not letting the game slip out of reach. Henry pulled the Hogs within eight, down 28-20 with 6:45 to play on a tip-in off a missed three by Clarke as the shot clock ran out.
Kentucky lengthened its lead again, going up by 15 with less than five minutes to go in the half but a quick trey from Henry and a jumper by Sanchez with 1:14 left on the clock sent the Hogs to the locker room trailing the Cats 40-29.
The Razorbacks return to action Feb. 18 to take on LSU at Bud Walton Arena with tip-off scheduled for 7:05 p.m. For complete coverage of Razorback men’s basketball, visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.