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Poor shot selection pays off for ‘Backs

SHARE Poor shot selection pays off for ‘Backs

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — For a couple of minutes, Arkansas looked like a team trying not to lose Sunday.

Leading No. 13 Kentucky by four points, the Razorbacks twice worked the shot clock before Brandon Dean missed badly.

On the next possession, Arkansas was in no danger on the shot clock when Jannero Pargo fired from the top of the key.

"I was yelling, 'Don't shoot!"' said Arkansas coach Nolan Richardson. "I didn't want it. Then I yelled, 'Good shot.' That one there was the dagger."

Pargo's 3 with 1:21 to play gave Arkansas (17-9, 8-6 SEC) a 79-72 lead and Arkansas held the Wildcats scoreless for nearly three minutes down the stretch for an 82-78 victory.

Saul Smith ended the Wildcats' scoring drought with a tough jumper from the baseline, but Pargo added two more free throws for an eight-point advantage with 39.7 seconds to play.

Kentucky (18-8, 11-3 SEC) led by eight points early in the second half. But the Wildcats shot poorly the rest of the way and had their eight-game winning streak stopped.

Richardson said making Kentucky play defense for 30 seconds or so at a time took the spring out of the Wildcats on offense.

"You could see guys reaching for their shorts and that's a telltale sign," he said.

"We ran them and ran them in the second half," said Arkansas' Charles Tatum. "We took away their legs."

Tayshaun Prince opened the second half with a baby hook that put Kentucky ahead 49-41. The Wildcats, the best-shooting team in the SEC, made only 12-of-40 the rest of the half. Prince missed his final six shots.

"If we would have been shooting well, we would have won the game," said Kentucky coach Tubby Smith.

Keith Bogans, who had 17 points in the first half, missed all six of his shots in the second half and still led the Wildcats in scoring. "He was the topic of our conversation at halftime," Richardson said. "We tried to get to him and double him up, and make him get rid of the ball."

Arkansas shot almost 47 percent in the second half against the most effective defense in the SEC. The Razorbacks' production included 10-of-21 from 3-point land, including at least one by a half-dozen players.

"We can't seem to get our guys up on people and get the pressure on," Smith said. "I think that was one of our problems in the second half."

NO. 11 KANSAS 78, NEBRASKA 74: At Lincoln, Neb., Kirk Hinrich scored 15 of his 20 points in the second half, including three free throws in the final minute, as No. 11 Kansas held off Nebraska.

Nick Collison had 22 points and nine rebounds for the Jayhawks (21-5, 10-4 Big 12).

Cookie Belcher led Nebraska (13-14, 6-8) with 29 points.

NO. 23 ST. JOSEPH'S 90, DUQUESNE 70: At Pittsburgh, St. Joseph's rallied from nine points down behind Marvin O'Connor's 28 points and the No. 23 Hawks clinched a tie for the Atlantic 10 regular season title by beating Duquesne.

Frank Wilkins added 14 points as the Hawks (23-4, 13-1) won their ninth in a row and 17th in 18 games, wearing down the smaller Dukes (9-19, 3-12) with their outside shooting and transition game.

St. Joseph's, which has lost only once since Dec. 17, got a scare in the first half as Duquesne — playing its final home game — opened a 23-14 lead behind Courtney Wallace's scoring. He finished with 21 points.