Kentucky never trails, downs Arkansas

Posted: February 17, 2017 at 2:09 a.m.

Arkansas' Jessica Jackson eyes the basket while Kentucky's Evelyn Akhator defends during the second half of a game Thursday Feb. 16, 2017, at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville. The Wildcats won 69-62.

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas got within striking distance several times Thursday night but couldn't get over the hump on its way to a 69-62 loss against Kentucky at Walton Arena.

After the Wildcats opened the game on an 8-2 run, the Razorbacks (13-13, 2-11 SEC) closed the deficit to a single point four times but could never take the lead as missed shots and turnovers resulted in their seventh consecutive loss.

The victory was the third in a row for Kentucky (18-8, 9-4).

Arkansas used a a 19-9 run to open the third quarter, which nearly erased Kentucky's 31-20 halftime lead. Jessica Jackson's three-pointer for the Razorbacks made it 40-39 with 2:20 left in the quarter, but Kentucky closed out the third on an 8-2 spurt -- highlighted by one of Taylor Murray's three steals and layups -- and Arkansas would never get closer.

A steal by Jackson earlier in the third led to a Kieryn Swenson basket to make it 38-36. Following a defensive stop, Arkansas' Malica Monk missed a layup in heavy traffic that would have tied the score.

Back-to-back baskets by Jackson trimmed the deficit to 55-53 midway through the fourth quarter. Both teams traded scores before Kentucky answered with an 11-2 run to put the game away. A three-pointer by Makayla Epps, a rebound basket by Evelyn Ahkator and Murray's final steal and layup keyed the Wildcats' game-clinching run.

In the first quarter, back-to-back Jailyn Mason baskets got the Razorbacks within 14-13 with 2:20 remaining. They then got a pair of defensive stops but couldn't capitalize on them after making consecutive turnovers. Both teams traded three-pointers -- including one by Jackson -- and Kentucky maintained a 17-16 lead at the end of the opening quarter.

Both teams missed their first seven field goal attempts to begin the second quarter.

Murray then stole the ball from Mason for a layup that turned into a three-point play. The Wildcats steadily began pulling away and used a 14-4 advantage that resulted in the 11-point halftime advantage.

Sports on 02/17/2017