Nolan Richardson was in the house he built. Davonte Davis was not, apparently stepping away from the program, but the focus quickly turned to the action on the floor as it always does when Arkansas and Kentucky meet.
On the whole, Arkansas played perhaps its best conference game of the season Saturday -- even better than its lone SEC win over Texas A&M -- and the Kentucky Wildcats had a tough time. But the Wildcats finally put the home team away in the second half when they made 7 of 11 three-pointers while Arkansas hit 2 of 9 on a night when it made 4 of19.
The three is not the Hogs' best shot, but that doesn't stop them from taking them and that's why Kentucky won 63-57.
It is the first time in Eric Musselman's career as a head college coach he has been 10-10 overall.
In his first season at Nevada, he finished 24-14. But at the 20-game mark the Wolfpack were 12-8 and would end up winning the CBI at the end of the season.
Last season, when the Razorbacks finished 22-14, they were 14-6 and ended up making the Sweet 16.
On Saturday, with Trevon Brazile on the bench with a sore knee and Davis gone, Arkansas led the Wildcats for more than 33 minutes. It was tied at 31-31 and the Hogs appeared to be in control again after moving ahead 37-31.
At that point, the wildly athletic Wildcats were 1 of 2 on threes.
They would finish the second half making 7 of 11 and 9 of 20 for the game.
There are no heroes in a loss, even a close one, but Makhi Mitchell came off the bench and proved to be a force in the paint. He blocked shots, grabbed a game high 13 rebounds and scored 12 points, mostly from the free throw line where he made 8 of 10.
That's the type of play he was expected to have this season and the 6-10 senior played hard every one of his 32 minutes.
There had been five lead changes in a five-minute span before the Wildcats started to take control when Antonio Reeves hit a layup.
Reeves finished with 24 points. The Wildcats, who took a long time to warm up, hit only 36.5% of their shots (23 of 63), but they hit all those threes.
Arkansas ended up outrebounding the Wildcats, but the Razorbacks finished with just nine assists and 13 turnovers which Kentucky cashed in for 12 points, 11 of them in the second half when they outscored the Hogs 39-31.
Kentucky opened the game with one field goal on its first 17 attempts and trailed by as much as 10 points in what appeared might be a convincing Quad 1 win for the Hogs. But Arkansas was 1 of 12 to close the first half and led 26-24 thanks to free throws.
Both teams finished the first half 9 of 31 from the field, 29%.
It seemed at times neither team could have bought a bucket if they were half price at Walmart.
It was like betting on a horse that breaks last. But that's OK, he's a closer, only he doesn't.
Neither team could finish because every shot at the rim was being challenged. Arkansas had four blocks in the first half but probably changed another dozen which turned them into misses.
During most of the opening half the Hogs dominated the boards, leading by eight for most of the half. But in the final 3:54, the Wildcats got six boards to only two for the Hogs.
Maybe part of it was because Davis has taken a leave of absence, but the Hogs had only three assists in the first half and they were by three different players.
Of course, you have to have field goals to get assists and both teams struggled on offense in the early going.
The Razorbacks go on the road this week to Missouri and LSU hoping to build off a good effort.