The only thing missing from Arkansas' 87-85 upset of No. 13 Kentucky on Tuesday, Jan. 14, was Jim Valvano running around the court looking for someone to hug.
Reminiscent of Lorenzo Charles throwing it home for North Carolina State to win the 1983 national championship for the Wolfpack, Razorbacks guard Michael Qualls' put-back dunk with 0.2 seconds remaining gave his team the improbable win.
The Associated Press (via ESPN) gave Qualls' thoughts on the final play:
Crashing the boards in that type of situation is the best time to crash the boards. They forget about you. I just saw an opportunity and took it.
Yahoo! Sports' Pat Forde noted that it's the kind of finish you don't see often:
Michael Qualls with the buzzer beater of the year. You don't see those every decade.— Pat Forde (@YahooForde) January 15, 2014
After sleepwalking through much of the overtime period, Kentucky tied the game with 12 seconds to go following a three-pointer from freshman James Young. It looked like the game was headed for a second OT, and then Qualls sent the Fayetteville crowd into a frenzy.
Qualls finished the night with 18 points on 5-of-14 shooting. Junior Rashad Madden added 18 of his own on 6-of-13 shooting. Freshman Bobby Portis had a double-double, scoring 11 and bringing down 10 boards.
Kentucky's freshman stars put up nice numbers but were unable to pull out the win.
Young led all scorers with 23 points. Julius Randle had 20 points and 14 rebounds and Aaron Harrison put up 16 points. Andrew Harrison was a big disappointment, as he had seven points on 2-of-9 shooting.
Perhaps the most telling image of the game is both Young and Andrew Harrison watching helplessly as Qualls won the game for Arkansas, per Matt Jones of KentuckySportsRadio.com:
Andrew Harrison and James Young both hit huge shots to tie game and then both just watched that rebound come off rim. Just a brutal ending— Matt Jones (@KySportsRadio) January 15, 2014
That sums up the performance for the Wildcats well. They didn't play all that badly, but they were unable to make enough plays or get enough stops to earn the victory.
Junior forward Alandise Harris looked to have won the game in regulation for Arkansas when he hit a layup with 9.5 seconds to go. He also drew a blocking call on Willie Cauley-Stein, eventually nailing the foul shot for the three-point play to give the Razorbacks a 74-71 lead.
The foul call could've gone either way, but some, including Sporting News' Michael DeCourcy, questioned whether it was a wise decision for Cauley-Stein to try and earn the charge in the first place:
Why would you decide to draw a charge there?— Michael DeCourcy (@tsnmike) January 15, 2014
Andrew Harrison had been held without a field goal for 39 minutes and 57 seconds of the game, but it was in those final three seconds that he found his shooting stroke. Harrison nailed a three to tie the score and push the game into overtime.
Forde noted that the Arkansas bench looked to be signaling to foul in order to prevent the chance of a three-point shot, but the players on the court didn't get the message:
Huge shot by a guy who has played poorly. I swear I saw Arkansas bench telling players to foul. They didn't.— Pat Forde (@YahooForde) January 15, 2014
Unless Ark has different signals than everyone else, Melvin Watkins was signaling for Hogs to foul on that possession. Left guy open instead— Pat Forde (@YahooForde) January 15, 2014
This is UK's first loss since an 82-77 defeat to North Carolina back on Dec. 14 and snaps what was its second-longest winning streak of the season—four games.
After beating Louisville and starting SEC play 2-0 heading into Tuesday night, it looked as if Kentucky had worked through its growing pains. Then the inconsistency issues that hampered the Wildcats earlier in the year reared their ugly head.
Head coach John Calipari felt that his players never stopped fighting, despite losing the game and going down late, per Kyle Tucker of The Courier-Journal:
Calipari: "My guys did not give up." Some fought, couple didn't show. Called WCS a "non-factor."— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_CJ) January 15, 2014
Although, Dan Wolken of USA Today thinks this was just one of those games that's so crazy you can't make any sort of major judgments:
This game has been so bizarrely played and officiated that extracting any meaning out of it whatsoever is useless.— Dan Wolken (@DanWolken) January 15, 2014
The Wildcats will look to rebound when they take on Tennessee on Saturday afternoon.