FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) -- Kentucky players held their breath
Saturday as they waited to see whether Eric Ferguson's 3-point
attempt at the game's end would fall for an Arkansas victory. But
the shot missed, and the Wildcats (No. 6 ESPN/USA Today; No. 7 AP) survived for a 68-67
Eric Ferguson countered Sparks' field goal with a 3-pointer,
pulling Arkansas within a point. The Wildcats' Chuck Hayes missed a
free-throw try, and Ferguson got the rebound but missed a 3-point
try as time ran out.
The Wildcats have showed again they can escape a close road game
with a victory. They pulled out a 53-50 victory at Mississippi on
Jan. 19. As the Razorbacks enter the second half of their
Southeastern Conference season, they are showing signs they could
get the wins they need to qualify for an NCAA Tournament bid.
Bobby Perry came off the bench to score nine for the Wildcats
(16-2, 7-0 Southeastern Conference).
Kentucky was able to keep fresh legs rotating into the game as
Arkansas players became winded.
"We have a good, deep bench and that helps us control the tempo
of the game and keep the pressure on people," Kentucky coach Tubby
Smith said. We are a physical team and we wanted to trap Brewer and
defend him hard. We let Brewer off the hook early in the game by
fouling. Our game was to be physical with him and wear him down."
The Razorbacks, lacking a true point guard, relied on Brewer to
direct the offense. But Brewer landed awkwardly on his left ankle
and went to the sideline at the 10:42 of the second half with the
score tied 46-all. By the time he returned, Arkansas trailed 55-50.
Brewer clearly favored his ankle when he returned, but wasn't a
factor. He had just one field goal and four free throws in the
"A play here and a play there," Arkansas coach Stan Heath
said. "It just didn't fall today, for whatever reason."
Famutimi hit two free throws to make it 55-52.
Kentucky put together a 9-3 run to take a 64-57 lead with 3:01
left. Rondo hit the last field goal of the run, leaping for an
Brewer missed underneath, but Famutimi hit a 3-pointer to make
Perry scored to make it 66-61, but Jonathan Modica converted a
three-point play, making it 66-64 with 53.2 seconds left.
"We made some clutch plays at the end of the game," Smith
said. "We had some big stops on the defensive end of the floor.
Ferguson had a great look at the basket at the end, but the ball
fell just off the rim."
Heath said Brewer still has some work to do on defense, but
credited his effort.
"Ronnie [Brewer] did well in spots. Because of his ankle injury
he wasn't as aggressive when he came back. He still put us in the
position we were in too get the win," Heath said.
Chuck Hayes, the Wildcats' leading rebounder played only five
minutes in the first period, wearing a mask to protect a broken
nose sustained the previous Tuesday against Tennessee. He had one
rebound and two points in the period and finished with four points
and two rebounds in 20 minutes.
Michael Jones went down 50 seconds into the game after scoring
the Razorbacks second basket. He didn't return in the period. Heath
said Jones suffered a groin injury that needs more evaluation.
Heath said Brewer would remain day to day.