Bama Slaughters Razorbacks, 83-58
Alabama saved the best for last, the Crimson Tide's most complete game of the season in an 83-58 win over Arkansas.
The Alabama win, coupled with Vanderbilt's 65-62 loss at Ole Miss, gives Bama the 10th seed in next week's Southeastern Conference Tournament, meaning Alabama gets a first round bye and will play on Thursday.
Alabama finished regular season play with a 13-18 record, including a 7-11 SEC mark. Arkansas finished 21-10 and 10-8.
Playing his final game in Tuscaloosa, Crimson Tide senior guard Trevor Releford had a game-high 24 points, one of four Bama players in double figures. Shannon Hale came off the bench (for senior walk-on Isiah Wilson, who started the game on Senior Day) and scored 18, while Rodney Cooper had 11 and freshman Jimmie Taylor had 10.
Arkansas was led by Rashad Madden, who hit four second half three-point shots after the issue had been decided, and had 19 points. Bobby Portis had 17 for the Razorbacks, fewer than half the 35 he scored in Fayetteville when Arkansas took a 65-58 win.
Alabama had an outstanding shooting performance, making 29-53 from the field for 54.7 per cent. Bama made 6-16 three-point shots, 37.5 per cent. From the free throw line, the Tide was good on 19-27 for 70.4 per cent. Arkansas made only 15 of 48 field goal tries, 31.3 per cent. The Razorbacks made 9-25 on three-pointers, 36 per cent (but had only 2-12 at the half). Arkansas was good on 19-25 free throws, 76 per cent.
Alabama has not been a good rebounding team, but Arkansas is worst in the SEC, and Bama took advantage with a 41-25 edge in rebounds. Bama had 12 offensive reb ounds and scored 11 second chance points.
The key was scoring inside. Alabama had a 42-6 edge on scoring in the paint.
Alabama also had 18 points on the Razorbacks' 15 turnovers, while Arkansas scored 13 points off Bama's 13 turnovers. Alabama had an 8-0 margin in fast break points.
After Alabama scored the first four points of the game, there were no ties and no lead changes in the game.
Alabama had about as fine a first half as it has played. Ever. The Crimson Tide exploited the Arkansas press for layups, turned 12 Hogs turnovers into points, and in the halfcourt game got open threes that were knocked down, and generally dominated the Razorbacks, shooting 55.6 per cent from the field. Meanwhile, Bama's defense limited Arkansas to 4-23 from the field, including 2-12 on three-pointers. Rebounding? It was Alabama 25 (Carl Engstrom had a career high seven boards in the first half), Arkansas 12.
Alabama broke the game open, going from a 10-8 lead with 15:29 to play in the first half to 25-point lead at 39-14 with 1:17 to go until intermission.
The result was Alabama having a 39-16 lead.
Bama had the lead at double digits before the 12-minute mark. With just under 10 minutes it was a 15-point lead, 26-11, and then a 20-point lead, 31-11 with six minutes. Late in the half Bama led by 25 points, the last time at 39-14.
Levi Randolph had 11 points and Trevor Releford 10 at the break.
The Arkansas strategy in the second half on offense was to drive inside, hoping for baskets and/or fouls or to shoot the three-pointer. Although there were times when it looked as though the Razorbacks might make a run – cutting the Alabama lead to as few as 19 – Bama always had an answer.
Five minutes into the half, the Razorbacks trailed by one more point than the halftime margin. It was at that point that Portis made a couple of free throws to become the first Arkansas player to make it into double figures.
Less than a minute later, Retin Obasohan made a length-of-floor drive for a layup and added a free throw and the lead was up to 27.
Halfway through the second half, Bama was maintaining its lead, 59-35. No one could have known it, but those 59 points would be enough to win. Arkansas didn't reach Alabama's first half total in points until only 7:50 remained.
With just over three minutes to play, Releford made his final Coleman Coliseum basket, a three-pointer that gave him 24 and moved him into the top five in all-time Alabama career scoring. A few minutes later, Releford left the game to a standing ovation.
The game ended with Dakota Slaughter (a walk-on who is on scholarship for this year) making a three-point shot and senior walk-on Isiah Wilson driving for a layup and adding the free throw for his career high five points in the game.
Alabama Coach Anthony Grant said, "Arkansas is a team that has been playing really well and we knew we had to have our best game."
TIDE NOTES: On Senior Day, Alabama's lone walk-on senior, Isiah Wilson of Troy, was not only recognized in a pre-game ceremony with fellow senior Trevor Releford, but Wilson was also given a starting assignment. Previously this year Wilson, a 6-3 guard, had played in three games, a total of seven minutes, and scored one point.
Wilson played th first two minutes. He missed a three-point try, but scored Alabama's second basket on a tip-in.
Releford's 24 points gives him 1,862 points, one more than former Tide All-America Jerry Harper (1953-56). Releford is now fifth in Alabama career scoring.
Other starters were freshman Jimmie Taylor at center, and juniors Levi Randolph and Rodney Cooper on the wings.
Spotted in the audience: former Tider Bobby Lee Hurt.
Arkansas was coming off a game in which the Razorbacks defeated Ole Miss, 110-80. The Razorbacks had won six consecutive games.
All ten men who played for Alabama scored against the Razorbacks.
Arkansas still has a one-game advantage in the all-time series, 29-28, but the Tide now has won seven consecutive games over the Razorbacks in Coleman Coliseum. In Tuscaloosa, Alabama has a 19-5 advantage.
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