Kentucky continued its winning ways with a commanding 82-65 victory in the SEC Championship, bringing the trophy back to Lexington for the 30th time behind a complete team effort.
De’Aaron Fox was too quick, only contained by early foul trouble. Malik Monk did Malik Monk things after a slow start, from deep threes to breakaway dunks off made baskets. Bam Adebayo was a steady, patient presence in the post. Last but not least, Dominique Hawkins gave the type of energy and effort that made every Kentucky fan proud.
All four finished in double-figures. Fox led Kentucky with 18 points, Monk and Adebayo each had 17 points and Hawkins finished with a career-high 14 points.
The game was chippy to start, thanks in part to a little pregame trash talk from the Arkansas sideline. The Razorbacks took advantage of UK’s sloppy play to take an 18-17 lead ten minutes into the game. The Cats needed energy, and they got it from their scrappy senior.
Hawkins created turnovers for easy buckets to help Kentucky surge ahead of Arkansas for good with a 14-4 run. Kentucky took control, built the lead up to 19, but Arkansas didn’t quit. The Razorbacks’s late run cut the Kentucky lead to nine with 1:30 remaining. Of course, Hawkins was the one to provide an unlikely dagger, creating a turnover with an offensive foul that stole all of Arkansas’ remaining momentum.
Kentucky will enter the NCAA Tournament on an 11-game win streak, the second-longest winning streak in the John Calipari era. It’s Coach Cal’s fifth SEC Championship title and the program’s 30th. All other SEC schools combined have 27 SEC Tournament Championship titles.