Tide Gets Key Win At Arkansas

WHOO-EEE! Alabama went into Fayetteville, weathered a barbecue-hot Arkansas start, and then rallied for a critical 79-68 win over the Razorbacks in Bud Walton Arena, where Hogs don't often get slaughtered.

Alabama trailed by 12 points and had lost the man who looked like he had the hot hand when Trevor Lacey went out with a badly turned ankle with 10 minutes to go in the first half. The Crimson Tide rallied to lead Arkansas by four points at intermission, then scored the first nine points of the second half en route to the victory. Alabama built as much as a 15 point lead in the second half, but had to withstand a late Arkansas rally that pulled the Hogs to within five points in the last three minutes.

With the win, Alabama can legitimately eye the opportunity for an NCAA Tournament berth. The Tide got a sweep of Arkansas this year. Alabama had taken a 72-66 win in Tuscaloosa. Bama improved to 18-9 overall and 7-6 in Southeastern Conference play. The Razorbacks fell to 17-11, 5-8 in the conference after only the second loss for the Hogs in Fayetteville this year.

Alabama has only a day before having to be prepared to meet Mississippi State at 5 p./m. CST Saturday at Coleman Coliseum in Tuscaloosa. The Bulldogs defeated Bama by 56-52 in Starkville on Jan. 14.

After Mississippi State, Bama has a game against Auburn in Tuscaloosa Wednesday, and closes out the season March 3 at Ole Miss.

Alabama had four men in double figures, led by freshman Rodney Cooper with 17. Andrew Steele had a career high 15 points, while freshman inside player Nick Jacobs and sophomore point guard Trevor Releford had 14 each.

Alabama Coach Anthony Grant called it a "great win. Anytime you can go on the road and win it's special, but when you come in here you know it's going to be a challenge. They were red-hot to open the game. We told our guys that they had to play for 40 minutes, that no lead was insurmountable and that no lead was safe.

"We had a lot of guys step up. I thought we did a good job of attacking the press. And we make six treys."

Arkansas was unbelievable from beyond the arc. Against one of the nation's best defensive teams on three-point shots, the Razorbacks hit their first six. After that, though, the Hogs made only 2-11, finishing 8-17. Arkansas did not make a three-point shot in the second half.

Alabama used steals and layups abnd tough play in the lane to defeat the Hogs. Although Alabama had 16 turnovers, the Tide forced 18 by Arkansas, and Bama scored 21 points off turnovers, the Razorbacks 17.

Bama had a big edge on scoring in the paint, 36-20, and a particularly nice advantage in bench points. Bama subs scored 38 points to the Razorbacks' 17.

Alabama hit 27-49 field goal attempts for 55.1 per cent, including 6-11 three-pointers for 54.5 per cent. The Tide was good on 19-28 free throws, 67.9 per cent. Arkansas made 22-45 field goals, 48.9 per cent, including 8-17 on treys, 47.1 per cent, and made 16-25 free throws, 64 per cent.

Arkansas was fighting back in the second half, but a blocked shot by Carl Engstrom, which was turned into a fast break slam by Levi Randolph, which turned the momentum back to Alabama.

In the final 8:20, Alabama made 10-15 free throws.

With 7:25 to play in the first half, the Razorbacks got a second chance three-point shot from B.J. Young, who had 17 first half points en route to a game-high 21 before fouling out. That trey gave the Hogs a 33-21 lead.

Cooper got that three back with a trey from the corner. Moussa Gueye, one of three men who rotated in the paint for Bama, blocked a shot that led to a Steele layup, followed by a Releford steal and length-of-court drive and layup that cut the lead to five points.

Arkansas stopped te bleeding with one free throw, but then Charles Hankerson slashed the Hogs open with a press-breaking three-pointer. Young answered with a trey for a 37-31 Arkansas lead.

Jacobs got a putback and a pair of free throws to cut it to 35-37 and then the teams swapped a pair of frree throws to make it 39-37.

Releford made a three-pointer to give Alabama the lead at 40-39 with a minute and a half before intermission. It was the first time Alabama had led since Trevor Lacey's game-opening three-pointer. Bama would not trail again.

Although Arkansas had made six three-point shots, Alabama had the lead at intermission, 45-41.

TIDE NOTES: Moussa Gueye got his second consecutive start. He was joined by Levi Randolph, Andrew Steele, Trevor Lacey, and Trevor Releford.

Alabama was playing without its top two scorers and rebounders. Tony Mitchell, of course, has been suspended for the year. JaMychal Green has been reinstated to the team, but was not cleared to play against Arkansas and did not make the trip to Fayetteville.

The win by Alabama in Fayetteville was the first for the Tide since 2005 Bama had a 64-61 victory over Arkansas.

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