Alabama athletics has various promotions at its games. I can’t remember all of them, but I am familiar with the name of one: “This and That.” Although a forgettable promotion, it is perhaps appropriate for Senior Night.
When Alabama’s men’s basketball team hosts Arkansas at 8 p.m. CST Wednesday in Coleman Coliseum, it will be the final home game for the Crimson Tide, which traditionally means a game in which the seniors are recognized. Bama has two senior players (and a couple of student assistants) who will be honored beginning about a half hour before tip off.
Those seniors – fifth-year man Retin Obasohan and graduate transfer Arthur Edwards – have different personalities. Edwards is a team cut-up, while Obasohan is businesslike. Both, said Alabama Coach Avery Johnson, are good leaders.
“Arthur keeps them loose and Retin keeps them focused,” said Bama’s coach.
Alabama (17-1 overall and 8-8 in Southeastern Conference play) will need all the leadership it can get in hosting Arkansas (15-14, 8-8). The Razorbacks have been a hot team of late with three consecutive wins. The Tide, too, has been good lately with six wins in its last eight games.
Johnson said, “They play fast and furious, though not like in the days of Nolan Richardson (famous Arkansas coach of the past). They shoot the three as well as any team in the SEC.”
Arkansas is in its 25th year in the SEC and the Tide and Razorbacks are 24-24 in games since the Hogs came into the league in 1992. Overall, Arkansas has a 30-28 lead in the series, but Bama has won three of the last five and six of the last 10. Arkansas won the last meeting a year ago in Fayetteville, 93-91 in overtime.
Johnson wasn’t exaggerating the three-point ability of the Razorbacks. Arkansas leads the SEC and ranks ninth in the nation in three-point field goal percentage at .407. Athion Bell is the top outside shooter as he ranks second in the SEC in percentage (.452) and third in made treys with 84, which is ninth in the nation.
Arkansas is the nation’s only major program with three players averaging over 15 points per game with Dusty Hannahs at 16.2, Moses Kingsley at 16.1, and Bell at 15.9. All three rank in the top 11 in the SEC in scoring. Kingsley (6-10, 230) has four double-doubles in his last five games and is one of four major college players in the nation to have 15 or more double-doubles this season. He averages 9.3 rebounds per game.
The scorers are set up by point guard Jabril Durham. In the last four games Durham has 25 assists and no turnovers.
Johnson said, “They play a nine-man rotation, and have guys who can come off the bench and ignite them.”
He also said that Arkansas has been getting off to fast starts in recent games, and it will be Alabama’s task to not get down early. The Razorbacks have consecutive wins over Missouri, LSU, and Tennessee coming into this game. The last loss by the Hogs was a surprising home setback to Auburn.
Alabama is expected to go with its usual starting lineup of point guard Retin Obasohan (17.3 points per game), wings Riley Norris (7.8 ppg, 5.2 rebounds per game) and Arthur Edwards (9.4 ppg, 3.9 rpg), high post Michael Kessens (3.9 ppg, 3.6 rpg), and low post Jimmie Taylor (5.7 ppg, 4.9 rpg).
Alabama is in an eight-man rotation with guard Justin Coleman (7.9 ppg), forward Shannon Hale (10.6 ppg), and low post Donta Hall (2.6 ppg, 4.1 rpg).
Obasohan is averaging 20.3 ppg in SEC games. He needs 36 points in the Tide’s final two games (Arkansas and at Georgia Saturday) to average 20 points in league play. The last Alabama player to do that was Buck Johnson, who averaged 20.4 points in SEC games in 1985-86.