FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — Antonio Reeves scored a career-high 37 points, and No. 23 Kentucky handed Arkansas its third straight loss with an 88-79 victory on Saturday.
Oscar Tshiebwe had 12 points and 13 rebounds for the Wildcats (21-10, 12-6 Southeastern Conference). Jacob Toppin scored 21 points.
Kentucky shot 54% from the field in its fifth win in six games. It also held Arkansas to 36% shooting.
The Wildcats will be the No. 3 seed for the SEC Tournament.
“From this point through the conference tournament, we have to understand how we got to play, fight, execute,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said.
Kentucky played without starting point guard Cason Wallace because of a leg injury. Calipari did not give a timetable for Wallace’s return.
Tshiebwe fouled out with 4:53 left, but Arkansas (19-12, 8-10) was unable to take advantage of his absence. The Razorbacks missed three straight buckets before Reeves scored to lift Kentucky back to a 10-point lead with four minutes left.
Arkansas coach Eric Musselman lamented his team’s trouble with finishing inside and praised Reeves. The senior guard was 12 for 17 from the field and 11 for 11 at the free-throw line.
“Obviously tonight, 2 for 20 around the rim, you’re not going to win a lot of games,” Musselman said. “What happened tonight is Reeves stepped into the point guard position and had 37 points. He played as good as any player I’ve seen since I’ve been coaching at Arkansas.”
Nick Smith Jr. led Arkansas with 25 points on 10-of-23 shooting. Ricky Council had 16 points, and Anthony Black finished with 14.
The Razorbacks had 17 offensive rebounds, but they were outscored 17-9 in second-chance points.
Kentucky’s late-season push likely secured a spot in the NCAA Tournament. A strong showing in the conference tournament could help with its seeding.
Arkansas likely would have locked up a berth in the NCAA Tournament with a win over Kentucky. Instead, the SEC Tournament may determine the Razorbacks’ fate.
The Razorbacks play Thursday in the second round of the conference tournament. The Wildcats will receive a bye to the SEC Tournament quarterfinals on Friday.