The Wildcats were welcomed to Fayetteville by a tough challenge from the Razorbacks, playing arguably their most physical game of the season. But Kentucky rode the coattails of Antonio Reeves and managed to come out on top by defeating the Razorbacks, 88-79.
John Calipari’s team was without Cason Wallace — who suffered a lower leg injury to Vanderbilt on Wednesday. Kentucky was also without Sahvir Wheeler, who is expected to miss extended time.
Following the news of Wallace being ruled out, there was serious doubt about Kentucky’s chances on Saturday. But key contributions from their veterans led to a significant victory.
So significant, in fact, that the Wildcats clinched the No. 3 seed in next week’s SEC Tournament. With the win, Kentucky avoids having to play on Thursday and instead will enjoy a double-bye and some much-needed extended rest.
Saturday’s game plan wound up being pretty simple: give the ball to Antonio Reeves and get out of the way. In a must-win game, Kentucky’s veteran shooting guard delivered in a big way with a career-high 37 points.
Reeves connected on 12 of his 17 shot attempts and made all 11 of his free throws. His performance was a full-180 after shooting 4-17 in the team’s loss to Vanderbilt on Wednesday.
Kentucky’s win secured the No. 3 seed for next week’s SEC Tournament and if the Wildcats want to make a run to Championship Sunday, they’ll need Reeves to continue scoring the rock at an efficient level.