Charles Bassey scored 21 points and delivered two key blocks in the final seconds as Western Kentucky rallied in the second half and ended Arkansas’ 28-game home nonconference winning streak with a dramatic 78-77 victory on Saturday afternoon.
Bassey finished four points shy of his career high but his big day was defined by deft passing and outstanding rim protection.
Bassey provided the pass for Marek Nelson’s uncontested cutting layup with 19 seconds remaining and then blocked jumpers by Jalen Harris and Daniel Gafford to preserve Western Kentucky’s first road win of the season and first victory over an SEC school since Dec. 13, 2014.
Jared Savage added 20 points while Taveion Hollingsworth contributed 17 as the Hilltoppers (5-4) shot 50 percent and outscored Arkansas 45-36 in the second half.
Freshman guard Isaiah Joe led Arkansas (6-2) with 19 points but scored just three points after halftime. Gafford added 17 while Mason Jones contributed 15 but the Razorbacks shot 43.5 percent and saw their six-game winning streak halted in the first meeting between the schools since 1974.
Arkansas tied the game at 70 on a free throw by Desi Sills with 4:32 remaining but 17 seconds later Dalano Banton hit an uncontested 3-pointer to give Western Kentucky a 73-70 lead. After Hollingsworth and Jones traded 3-pointers, Western Kentucky held a 76-75 lead with 2:14 left.
The Razorbacks regained the lead at 77-76 when Gafford grabbed the offensive rebound of Joe’s missed 3-pointer and converted the putback with 45 seconds remaining.
Arkansas made 7 of its first 11 shots and held a 17-8 lead on a dunk by Gafford with 15:18 remaining. Western Kentucky tied the game at 22 on a 3-pointer by Charles Bassey with 7:36 remaining but the Razorbacks finished the half with a 19-11 spurt to get a 41-33 lead by halftime.
Western Kentucky countered by starting the second half on a 14-5 run and took a 47-46 lead on a 3-pointer by Savage with 16:44 left. Four minutes later, the lead reached 57-49 on a transition dunk by Tolu Smith.
—Field Level Media