OPINION Like It Is

OPINION | WALLY HALL: Again and again, Razorbacks find way to win


In the final four minutes Saturday, Jaylin Williams had the hot hand and JD Notae knew it.

Notae, who scored 30 points, was double-teamed on the perimeter, but he got a perfect pass through to Williams, who scored and with 1:22 to play the Arkansas Razorbacks took a lead they would not relinquish and knocked off Kentucky 75-73 to move into a tie for second with the Wildcats and Tennessee in the SEC standings.

Notae also had eight assists and six rebounds.

Williams scored 10 of his 16 points in the last 4 1/2 minutes, all of them consecutively to keep the game moving like a ping pong ball in a clothes dryer.

In the second half, there were 16 lead changes as neither team would give up.

The Razorback responders, who buy every ticket available, roared and when time was ticking away, Kentucky Coach John Calipari sent his reserves to the locker room.

He didn't want them caught in the high seas of Hog callers.

He left with four seconds to play and the Wildcats getting their final field goal.

It was for naught.

On Friday, Arkansas Athletic Director Hunter Yurachek sent out messages asking the fans to not come on to the court, promising they would bring the team to them in the stands.

That saved the Razorbacks another $250,000 fine from the SEC.

The Wildcats took their biggest lead of the game, 52-48 with 9:34 to play, but momentum had not swung.

Notae scored twice in 40 seconds to tie, and it was like someone had turned on Sam Pittman's jukebox.

Both teams stepped it up and mirrored each other with pressure defense and offensive intensity.

The atmosphere was electric and the tension couldn't have been cut with a scalpel.

The announcers couldn't say enough about the Razorback fans and when Kentucky, which got 13 points from offensive rebounds, went ahead 70-69 with 2:19 to play, it wouldn't have been surprising if the sound barrier had been broken.

Call 'em the come-from-behind kids, or even the cardiac kids, but this team doesn't have any quit in it.

Five players played more than 30 minutes and the fatigue was etched in their faces but not in their game.

They dove from loose balls, dashed and darted on defense and counter-punched every time they needed.

This team was 0-3 in SEC play and now stands 12-4.

Their NCAA NET Ranking going into Saturday's game was No. 24, but knocking off No. 3 Kentucky and moving into a tie for second place with the Wildcats will change that, and their NCAA seeding predictions is going to send the specialists into overdrive.

Arkansas stands 12-4 in SEC play and is the only team to have knocked off Auburn, Tennessee and Kentucky this season.

The Razorbacks have won 13 of their past 14 games, and if they can win out, they can do no worse than the No. 2 seed in the SEC Tournament.

All the accolades and respect have been earned the past seven weeks.

This Razorback team has faced adversity on the court in almost every game, and they have simply refused to lose even when it seemed hopeless.

If one player is not having a good game offensively, he finds another way to contribute, either with steals or shutting down a shooter.

On Saturday, Devo Davis missed his only field-goal attempt, but inside the last six minutes, he made five free throws.

Stanley Umude made 3 of 5 three pointers, and saying they were huge would be like saying the Vatican is an interesting tourist attraction.

In the end, though, it was another stellar defensive effort against a team that averages winning by 15. The Razorbacks scored 20 points off turnovers, and when they play that kind of defense, they usually find a way to win.