NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Arkansas men’s basketball (25-9) team fell to the Kentucky Wildcats (29-5) Sunday afternoon in the SEC Tournament Championship 82-65.
Down by as many as 19 in the second half, Arkansas fought back to cut the deficit to nine with 1:32 left in the contest, after sinking six of its last seven shots. Kentucky made its late free throws to keep Arkansas from getting any closer.
Arkansas’ bench, with the exception of Daryl Macon, did not perform as it has all year. Macon led the Razorbacks and tied for the game-high in scoring with 18 points, including 10 in the first half. The junior also pulled down four rebounds, tying for the most among Arkansas guards.
To start the contest, Kentucky raced out to an early 6-2 lead but Arkansas shortly responded. Going on a 7-0 run, the Razorbacks were able to take their first lead of the game at 9-7. Early on, neither team could pull away from the other. Kentucky and Arkansas battled for the first 18 minutes of the game, before Kentucky was able to use a 9-0 run at the end of the first half to take a 12-point lead into the locker room.
Dusty Hannahs tallied 14 points, as Jaylen Barford scored 13 points to go along with two rebounds. Manuale Watkins posted seven points, four rebounds, two assists and two steals. Trey Thompson led the team with four assists and two blocks.
The Arkansas men’s basketball team punched its ticket to the Big Dance on Sunday night, earning a No. 8 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Winning eight of their last 10 games, the Razorbacks will square off against the Seton Hall Pirates (21-11) of the Big East Conference in the round of 64 in Greenville, South Carolina. Arkansas will play its opening game on Friday at a time yet to be announced.
The Razorbacks are a No. 8 seed for the second time in program history, holding an overall record of 0-1.
Arkansas is making its 31st appearance in the NCAA Tournament and its second appearance in a three-year span for the first time in nine years. In the Razorbacks’ last NCAA Tournament appearance, Arkansas defeated the 12-seed Wofford Terriers 56-53 in the round of 64, before falling to fourth-seeded North Carolina.
Arkansas is 41-30 all-time in their previous 30 appearances and has is 19-11 in its first game in the tournament.
This marks head coach Mike Anderson’s eighth appearance in the NCAA Tournament as a head coach. Anderson is 8-7 all-time in the Big Dance, having advanced as far as the Elite Eight in 2008-09 during his days at Missouri.