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Keion Brooks stepped up big in Kentucky’s important win at Arkansas

Brooks found his groove to carry Kentucky past Arkansas in a crucial SEC road win.

NCAA Basketball: Kentucky at Arkansas Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Quality scoring from the bench is always a must on the road in the SEC, and Kentucky got vital bench production from Keion Brooks in the win over the Arkansas Razorbacks Saturday.

Brooks scored 10 points — his first double-figure scoring performance since he dropped 11 against Georgia Tech over a month ago. That’s a new high for him in conference play. He also added seven rebounds. It’s the second straight game in which he’s grabbed seven boards.

Brooks was efficient in his scoring efforts. He went 3/4 from the field and 4/6 from the free-throw line.

And he stepped up down the stretch, playing his best basketball in the second half. Seven of Brooks’ 10 points came in the second half, as did five of his seven rebounds. He also impressed with his interior defense, blocking a shot and recording a steal.

Perhaps even more important than Brooks’ most complete game of the conference schedule thus far is that he was timely with his contributions. He drained three important free throws and secured two rebounds in the final two minutes.

His final two free throws pushed UK’s lead to seven and cemented the 73-66 final score with 13 seconds remaining. His final rebound came on Arkansas’ ensuing miss as the Razorbacks made a last-ditch effort to stay in the game.

On a day where UK couldn’t score from the perimeter (the Wildcats were 5 for 14 from 3-point range), they needed a scoring boost inside. Brooks provided that.

This reserve role is uncommon for Brooks as of late — he’s started the last five games, including every game in January up to this point. He played 17 minutes (tied for sixth-most on the day). That’s more minutes than he’s played in a game since Dec. 28, when he played 25 in the win over the Louisville Cardinals.