Kentucky basketball: Wildcats fail to collapse but Hogs deliver fatal bite with 4.3 left

Kentucky's Isaiah Jackson. (Credit: Arden Barnes-USA TODAY Sports)
Kentucky's Isaiah Jackson. (Credit: Arden Barnes-USA TODAY Sports) /
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81. 524. 80. 528. Final

Kentucky basketball avoids collapse, rallies late but falls short 81-80

Despite games where the Kentucky basketball team just flat out faltered in the final four minutes on Tuesday they punched back and had Arkansas on the ropes. This time it was a fatal foul with just 4.3 seconds left and a turnover by Olivier Sarr that resulted in loss No. 13 by a score of 81-80.

You have to feel bad for Sarr though with two final game-winning threes this season that caromed off the rim at the buzzer to a night when he notches a double-double but gives it away with Kentucky racing for another buzzer-beater.

Sarr was 3 of 5 from 3-point range finishing with 13 points and 10 rebounds.

Jalen Tate sank a pair of free throws on a questionable foul in the paint with arms flailing by multiple players on both teams.

The inbounds pass came to Sarr at midcourt and as he turned to soft pass to a racing Devin Askew it was Devonte Davis swiping it and driving another dagger into the Kentucky hearts.

Brandon Boston admitted in the post-game news conference the play was designed for him to take the final shot.

Kentucky coach John Calipari could find little fault with his team and was willing them to win throughout unlike many games where he has his head in his hands.

Even the final play he described just didn’t quite work the way he would have liked, but it just didn’t get executed.

"“That ball was supposed to go to Olivier and one of the guards and we kind of didn’t get quite open. But we were also going to look at BJ, who was open and we passed him up if you know what I’m saying. If you look at it, it was supposed to go to either BJ, if he’s open, throw it. He’s open, we didn’t, which is okay, we threw it to Olivier. Olivier is boom, catching it, throwing it to somebody and we’ve got our best three-point shooters out on the corners and the wings. So, that’s what we were trying to do.” While teammates tried to console him Sarr again headed to the locker room dejected."

When the clock struck 4 minutes to play it was Arkansas clinging to a 72-68 lead and despite Kentucky playing solid ball all night you were waiting for the bottom to fall out once again.

Instead, they played inspired outscoring the Razorbacks 12-9 over that closing stretch.

Boston delivered his fourth three of the game from the right elbow with 27.3 seconds to play pulling the Cats to within 78-77 but JD Notae converted one of two foul shots to follow.

Davion Mintz proceeded to knock down another three giving Kentucky its first lead since the early minutes of the second half at 42-41. But Jacob Toppin was called for the questionable foul in a crowded lane and Tate seeled the Arkansas victory.