FAYETTEVILLE – Four players in double figures paced by 19 from junior C’eira Ricketts lifted the No. 25 University of Arkansas women’s basketball team to a 78-67 win over No. 10 Kentucky in Bud Walton Arena Thursday.
The Razorbacks (13-1, 1-1 SEC) picked up their second win over a ranked team after defeating No. 12 Oklahoma earlier this year. Kentucky (11-3, 0-1 SEC) dropped their second straight game.
"This was a big step for our program," said Arkansas head coach Tom Collen. "We have worked hard to get to this level. We still have a lot of work to do but this is a huge step in the right direction."
"We looked at this game like we did against Oklahoma," said junior Lyndsay Harris. "We don’t think of ourselves as the underdog. We believed we were the better team and we played like it."
Arkansas was well-prepared for the fast-paced, pressing, attacking style of the Wildcats. The Razorbacks were able to shut down the Kentucky offense holding the Wildcats to 23.5 percent shooting in the first half and 28.4 for the game.
Ricketts led the Razorbacks with 19 points in 39 minutes of play. Harris scored 18 for the fourth time this year and sophomore Sarah Waktins had 14 points, nine rebounds and tied the Arkansas record in an SEC game with six blocks. Freshman Keira Peak added 10 points for Arkansas in the win.
One of the early keys for Arkansas was the 2-3 zone. Typically a man-to-man defensive team, Arkansas surprised the Wildcats showing zone early.
"We haven’t played a possession zone all year long," Collen said. "We surprised them. Coach (Timothy) Eatman did a fantastic job coordinating our game plan against them. We rolled the dice with Yashira Delgado tonight as well. We felt we needed a third ball-handler and she helped us against their press."
Delgado finished with a career-best nine points in 27 minutes.
Arkansas set the tone in the first half limiting Kentucky’s chances while making the most of their own. The Razorbacks took a eight point lead into the locker room at the break, 35-27, and trailed only once in the game, 4-6, at the 15:44 mark in the first frame.
The second half saw Kentucky with a renewed effort and the Wildcats quickly closed the gap to three in the first two minutes of the period.
Arkansas regrouped after a couple of subs and stretched the lead to as many as 18 points while holding Kentucky without a field goal for nearly eight minutes in the second half.
The Wildcats were able to stay in the game thanks to great free throw shooting. Kentucky was 25-for-35 from the led by senior Victoria Dunlap who was 11-for-18 from the stripe. Dunlap led all scorers with 26 points and 13 rebounds.
Despite Dunlap’s success, Kentucky had little else working in the game. They were even in rebounding with Arkansas, 42-41, but they committed 16 turnovers, only scored 26 points in the paint and only had four fast break points in 40 minutes.
"Tonight was all about Arkansas," said Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell. "It was an incredible job. They had so much energy and passion. You have to compliment their players and coaches. It was a thorough beating by Arkansas. No doubt about it. "
Arkansas continues SEC action traveling to Mississippi State for the 3:30 p.m. game with the Bulldogs. The game will be televised by FSN.