Cats fall to Arkansas, drop to 11th in the SEC


Kentucky Wildcats head coach John Calipari talks to his team on the sideline during the University of Kentucky vs. Arkansas men’s basketball game on Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2021, at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. UK lost 81-80. Photo by Michael Clubb | Staff

Eric Decker

John Calipari’s crew suffered through their seventh conference loss of the season, this time losing to Eric Musselman’s Arkansas squad in heartbreaking fashion 81-80. Just when it appeared the Cats had overcome their end of game troubles, a late foul allowed the Razorbacks to steal one from under Kentucky’s nose.

“That’s the best we’ve finished a game,” Coach Cal said postgame. “I can’t be upset.”         

If there’s any silver lining from tonight’s performance, B.J. Boston again showed glimpses as to why he was a top-ten recruit. The freshman ended up with 17 points on 6-for-10 shooting from the field, and grabbed seven boards in the process.                     

The Georgia native has struggled adjusting to the speed of the college game. Boston has recorded the worst field goal percentage on the team (35.7%), taken over 50 attempts more than the next closest Cat and had moments where it would be fair to question his effort. Kentucky’s head coach has openly stated his players looking for individual accolades as opposed to team success throughout the year, and even did so after tonight’s game, saying he usually has the preseason to grind down the issue.

“We’ve got inexperienced guys who’ve only played for themselves,” Cal said. “I’ve had it before, but I’ve had the Summer and the Fall [to work past it].”

For the most part though, Boston has found his footing. After being relegated to the bench versus Georgia, he has shot above 40% in four of the past six outings and tallied nine assists in them. He had only 15 through 12 games.

“The coaches tell us every day to keep fighting.” Boston said. “No matter the outcome, just keep fighting for 40 minutes. That’s what we did today, but unfortunately it didn’t go our way.”

Somewhat surprisingly, three-point shooting kept Kentucky within striking distance. The Cats connected on 14 treys, their most makes from distance since 2012. While the players haven’t typically functioned like a well-oiled machine offensively this year, they managed to score 80 points for the third time tonight.

“Today, they were a team trying to create shots,” Cal said. “And [executed] for each other.” Cal said.

With a little over six minutes remaining, Isaiah Jackson committed his fifth foul of the game. He didn’t agree with it, and was subsequently given a technical. Ironically, the “ejection” ended up sparking the Wildcat run that saw them claim the lead with just under 30 seconds left.

Once again off the bench, Keion Brooks gave the Cats valuable minutes despite struggling from the field. The sophomore went for ten points and seven rebounds in his 23 minutes of action before fouling out.        

No matter how ugly it gets for Calipari and the BBN this season, the show must still roll on. The Cats next see Auburn come to Lexington as the Tigers look to sweep the season series against Kentucky. The game is set for a 1:00 p.m. E.T. start with CBS on the broadcast.