Feb 20, 2018
by Chase Gage
JONESBORO, Ark — When the Hogs take on the Wildcats on the court, it’s not just any other game. This one means more.
Tonight at 8 P.M. CST, the Arkansas Razorbacks (19-8, 8-6 SEC) will host the Kentucky Wildcats (18-9, 7-7 SEC) at a sold-out Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville, AR. It will be the 42nd all-time meeting between the two rivals.
Kentucky has owned the history of the rivalry, holding a 30-11 advantage in the series. However, this rivalry is bigger than that number may suggest.
The Razorbacks joined the SEC in 1991, and immediately challenged Kentucky’s reign as the best in the league. From 1991-1995, Arkansas held a 4-2 head-to-head advantage over the Wildcats, winning (and losing) a National Championship along the way.
Since joining the SEC, the Wildcats still own the series, though it is a closer 26-11. Ten of those 26 wins came consecutively from 2001-2011. Since that streak, Kentucky holds a slim 6-4 advantage.
There is no doubt that Kentucky is the more accomplished school in terms of basketball history, but that does not take away from this rivalry on the court. These teams hate each other. They love to beat each other.
|Conference Titles (Regular Season)||24||50|
|Conference Titles (Tournament)||7||31|
|National Championship Appearances||2||12|
I was introduced to this rivalry early on in life. Raised a Hog fan, my first experience calling the Hogs was in 2006 at a football game against Louisianna-Monroe (then the Indians) at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock. It was a wonderful experience and a blowout win for Darren McFadden and company.
My first REAL taste of being a Razorback fan, however, came in February of 2007.
My first trip to Fayetteville was at 11 years old. My dad and I made the trip to Bud Walton Arena to watch the Razorbacks take on Kentucky. The game was sold-out. We were quite a few rows up, behind the goal on the East side. The Slobber Hog was still on the floor in those days.
The Hogs lost the game 72-84, but I walked away a changed man (boy). I had experienced the Arkansas-Kentucky rivalry first-hand. I have been an avid Razorback basketball fan ever since.
Though my time with the Kentucky rivalry has been short compared to some, and I missed the golden-age of Razorback basketball (I wasn’t even born yet when they lost to UCLA in the National Championship), some of my best basketball memories revolve around this series.
I have compiled a very brief history of the rivalry for some nostalgia. My favorite Razorback basketball memory will likely always be the Michael Qualls buzzer-beating dunk in overtime at Bud Walton to knock off the Wildcats. Hopefully, this list includes one of yours as well.
What was your favorite memory of this historic rivalry? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter (@ChaseGage1).
Woo Pig, and beat the Wildcats.
Arkansas vs. Kentucky, Notable Games
1978 NCAA Tournament
- #1 Kentucky beats #5 Arkansas 64-59 in the Final Four. The Wildcats go on to beat Duke in the National Championship
First SEC Meeting (1/25/92)
- #9 Arkansas claims the throne as the best team in their new conference with a 105-88 win in Lexington over the #8 Wildcats
1994 Battle Royale
- #3 Arkansas bests #4 Kentucky on the road, 90-82 (2/9/94)
- #10 Kentucky gets their revenge over #1 Arkansas in the SEC Tournament Semifinals in Memphis, 90-78
- Arkansas goes on to win the National Championship over Duke
Super Bowl XXIX
- #9 Arkansas holds on to beat #5 Kentucky in Fayetteville 94-92 just hours before kickoff of the Super Bowl on 1/29/95
- #3 Kentucky gets their revenge on #5 Arkansas with a 95-93 OT win in the 1995 SEC Title Game. Arkansas goes on to lose the National Championship to UCLA.
- In the 1999 SEC Championship, the #14 Wildcats knock off the #22 Hogs 76-63. Kentucky advances to the Elite Eight, Arkansas makes the Round of 32
- Arkansas and Kentucky faced off in the SEC Title Game for the first time for the first time in 16 years when they met in 2015. #1 Kentucky continued their quest for an undefeated season by beating the 21st-ranked Hogs 63-78. Kentucky’s first loss of the season came in the Final Four at the hands of Wisconsin, who went on to lose the Title Game to Duke.
- In 2017, the unranked Razorbacks made it back to the SEC Championship, only to be knocked off by #8 Kentucky, 82-65.
The Portis/Qualls Games
- Arkansas’ longest winning streak against Kentucky was a three-game stretch from 2013-2014.
- The second of those three wins was an overtime thriller in Fayetteville. The unranked Hogs knocked off the #13 Wildcats 87-85 thanks to a buzzer-beating dunk by Mr. Walk-on-Air himself, Michael Qualls.
- The (still) unranked Hogs then traveled to Lexington, where they were able to defeat the #17 Wildcats 71-67 in overtime
February 20, 2018 – Bud Walton Arena
- The next chapter in the Arkansas/Kentucky rivalry. Will this game be added to this list? We will find out at 8 P.M. CST on ESPN.