UK Hoops Drops SEC Opener to No. 25 Arkansas

Jan. 6, 2011

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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) - Arkansas had something to prove, and it wasn't quite ready to give up that national ranking.

The No. 25 Razorbacks, following their first loss of the season at Florida, rebounded behind 19 points from C'eira Ricketts for a 78-67 win over No. 10 Kentucky on Thursday night.

Arkansas (13-1, 1-1 Southeastern Conference) evened its conference record, a far cry from last season when it opened SEC play with six straight losses. The Razorbacks started league play 0-4 the year before that.

It's also Arkansas' second win over a ranked team, having already defeated then-No. 12 Oklahoma on Dec. 19.

"When we were in the locker room before the game, they were convincing me just like they did against Oklahoma," Arkansas coach Tom Collen said. "Like, 'Coach, we've got this. We're ready for this.'

"I wanted to believe them in the worst way, but I guess I needed to see it. And they may have needed to see it for themselves."

Kentucky (11-3, 0-1) lost for the second time in three days, following a defeat at No. 3 Duke on Tuesday. The Wildcats didn't return home before traveling to face Arkansas, something Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell said was a factor.

"I guess it played a lot," Mitchell said. "I guess we just weren't really for that type of situation. It was a thorough beating by Arkansas and they were the better team tonight, no question about it."

Ricketts was one of four in double figures for the Razorbacks, who opened the season 12-0. Arkansas moved into the polls after its win over Oklahoma and climbed as high as No. 22 before the Florida loss dropped them to No. 25.

"I definitely still think we need to prove ourselves because there's still people out there (saying), 'Oh, this is just a fluke,"' Ricketts said. " Oh no, we're a way better team than what everybody thinks we are and just beat our second ranked team, so that should show them a lot. And we've still got more to prove."

Lyndsay Harris, who finished with 18 points for the Razorbacks, connected on a 3-pointer midway through the second half to give Arkansas its largest lead at 61-43. Sarah Watkins added 14 points, nine rebounds and six blocks for the Razorbacks.

Arkansas led by as many as 10 in the first half before pulling away in the second. The Razorbacks led 39-35 early in the second half before going on a 17-4 run to go up 56-39, thanks in part to their ability to break Kentucky's pressure defense.

Arkansas played a three-guard lineup for much of the game in order to match up with the Wildcats' pressure, with freshman guard Yashira Delgado seeing extended action. Delgado finished with nine points, but Collen said he biggest impact was helping Ricketts and Harris in the backcourt.

Kentucky, which was led by Victoria Dunlap's 26 points and 13 rebounds, shot just 28.4 percent (19 of 67) in the loss. Arkansas connected on 29 of 57 shots (50.9 percent).

"I think it's a big step for our program," Collen said. "We've been here for 3 1/2 years and we've worked awfully hard to try to get to the level that our players, our administration and fans expect."