Kentucky had too much strength and too much power inside and the Wildcats used it to wear down Arkansas and make it into the NCAA championship final with a victory yesterday.
Jack Givens led Kentucky with 23 points, 12 of them in the second half.
Kentucky led by only one point at 59-58 with 3:36 left in the game, but the only point Arkansas could come up with thereafter was a free throw by Alan Zahn with 1:58 to play.
James Lee made two free throws before that and Givens scored on a fast break after Kentucky beat Arkansas' full court press that followed Zahn's basket. That sealed the game for the No. 1-ranked Wildcats.
In the championship game tomorrow night, Kentucky will play Duke, 90-86 winners over Notre Dame in the other semifinal game at the acheckerdome yesterday. The title game will be broadcast at 9:15 p.m. on WRC-TV.
Arkansas has the thinnest bench of any of the teams in the final four and the Razorbacks are vulnerable if they get in foul trouble.
Coach Eddie Sutton's fears were realized early as 6-foot-11 center Steve Schall got four fouls in the game's first six minutes and his other big man and defensive specialist Jim Counce picked up his fourth foul with almost four minutes left in the same period.
That severely restricted the Razorbacks' defensive options. But Arkansas was tough early.
The first two times Kentucky brought the ball upcourt, Arkansas swiped it with Ron Brewer and Counce going in for easy layups and a 4-0 Arkansas lead.
The Razorbacks led, 12-8, on a basket by Schall a couple of minutes later, but then Arkansas started getting bothered by Kentucky's tough man-to-man defense and its own fouls. On its next 12 possessions, Arkansas turned over the ball eight times and missed three shots.
Kentucky was having ball-handling problems of its own, but the Wildcats held on to it long enough to score nine points to only two for Arkansas and take a 17-14 lead with 10 minutes left in the half.
Counce got Arkansas to within a point of a driving layup, but then Kentucky's James Lee took over. After the 6-5, 225-pound Lee finished flexing his muscles, Kentucky had a 26-20 lead and Lee had seven points in a four-minute span.
Kentucky took its biggest lead of the first half at 28-21 on a 15-footer by Jack Givens with 5:50 left.
Marvin Delph and Brewer each made two free throws to cut the lead to 28-25 with 5:10 left and then, after Mike Phillips made a pair of free throws to get Kentucky's lead back to five points, Sidney Moncrief scored five straight points to tie the score at 30-30 with 2:51 left.
Moncrief, a 6-4 guard, was getting most of his points by taking whichever Kentucky guard was playing him down low. That strategy got Moncrief his points and it also got kyle Macy, Kentucky's best ball-handler, into early foul trouble.
Lee put in an offensive rebound to give Kentucy a 32-30 lead at half-time.
Givens had 11 first-half points for the Wildcats and Lee totaled nine.
Moncrief led the Razorbacks in the first half with nine points.
Kentucky's muscle inside started showing early in the second half. The Wildcats got three shots one trip down the floor before Givens scored from the baseline and, on another possession, took four shots before Givens put in a short jumper.
Kentucky was just packing its big guys in low and the quicker Razorbacks couldn't get close to the ball.
Six straight Kentucky points by Givens gave the Wildcats a 40-36 lead with 15:20 left.
Once it got that lead, Kentucky became patient and often worked the ball for more than a minute before getting inside for an easy shot.
Whenever Kentucky did miss, it had so many big people under the basket that the Wildcats usually came up with the rebound.
Another one of those four-shot possessions gave the Wildcats a 48-40 lead with 10:45 to play. Again it was Givens who stayed with it until he finally scored.