FAYETTEVILLE -- Michael Jones, who started for Arkansas and scored before suffering a pulled groin after just 50 seconds of play, did not return to the game. He did return to the bench in the first half, but was taken at halftime to Washington Regional Medical Center for X-rays.
“He pulled his left groin pretty severely,” said UA trainer Dave England. “But it was not pulled off the bone. We’ll know more about his condition in a couple of days.”
Ronnie Brewer turned the same (left) ankle he had hurt earlier in SEC play, but UA basketball publicist Robby Edwards said the two injuries were unrelated.
“He had healed from the first one,” Edwards said.
England said, “Ronnie’s ankle may swell up some, but he should be fine.”
Arkansas coach Stan Heath said about Jones’ injury, “You never know what difference that could have made. He sparks us on the offensive end. He would have been a bonus, especially late in the game when we were looking for threes.”
Kentucky basketball coach Tubby Smith, eighth among active coaches with a .7405 winning percentage, celebrated his 331st college win on Saturday with a kiss from his wife and a picture with some UK fans in Bud Walton Arena.
Smith also told Arkansas student well-wishers, “You’ve got a lot of class.”
Then he began telling the media how Kentucky had forced more mistakes than Arkansas in the Wildcats’ 68-67 win, when he suddenly stopped himself.
“Actually, no, we didn’t,” Smith said, after noticing that Kentucky had 19 turnovers to Arkansas’ 13. “Nineteen turnovers matches our high for the season. I don’t know how we won the game, when you think about it.”
Veteran CBS analyst Bill Raftery, in the hallway after the game, had offered two reasons.
“It came down to two breakdowns by Arkansas,” Raftery said. “The back-cut layup by (UK guard Rajon) Rondo (for a 64-57 lead), and the high kick and roll (for a Bobby Perry layup and 66-61 lead). That’s what Stan was worried about.”
Smith, who drew up Rondo’s layup during a 30-second timeout, credited Chuck Hayes with making a great pump fake before passing to a wide-open Rondo.
About the basket by Perry, Smith said, “Bobby’s man came over to help out.”
With the shot clock running down, Kentucky guard Patrick Sparks made a pin-point bounce pass to Perry for the layup with 1 minute, 3 seconds left.
Heath said, “Perry is tough, because Kentucky was rolling big guys down the lane.”
Heath also credited Sparks for his jump shot for a 68-64 UK lead with 20.5 seconds left.
FANS FINISH FIRST
UA fans responded in record numbers to win the 11th annual Game for Life Blood Drive. .
On Friday, Community Blood Center of the Ozarks donors gave 402 units, bringing their total to 1,140 units and representing 7.1 percent of the UA student population. The Kentucky Blood Center responded at a rate of 4.5 percent of the UK population.
Arkansas has won the competition three of the last four years.
BASEBALL TEAM HONORED
At halftime, members of the UA baseball team that won the Southeastern Conference and reached the College World Series last season were honored on the court at Bud Walton Arena.
The crowd of 20,268 -- eighth largest ever in Walton Arena -- responded with a spontaneous Hog call. Coach Dave Van Horn, infielder Scott Hode and catcher Brady Toops got the loudest ovations.
Smith called Sparks’ bump of UA guard Eric Ferguson in the backcourt in the final seconds of the game “incidental contact at that point,” but did say he’d have liked to see his defender keep his distance a little better in that situation.
Heath said he wouldn’t have expected a foul if the circumstances had been reversed, but he grinned and said he would have taken it if a foul call had been made.
Kentucky fan Bob Wiggins, 76, has now attended 1,304 UK games in the past 42 years.
And Bill Keightley, 78, in his 44th season as equipment manager for the Wildcats basketball team, has seen 1,348 UK games -- or 54.6 percent of the school’s all-time total of 2,469 games.