In a basketball game that Alabama could not afford to lose, the Crimson Tide seemed almost destined to lose despite a gallant second half effort by senior guard Retin Obasohan. Too many missed opportunities allowed the Arkansas Razorbacks to come from behind in the final two minutes in Coleman Coliseum Wednesday night and escape with a 62-61 win over Bama.
Obasohan had a monster scoring night with 32 points, but his missed contested layup with about seven seconds to play gave the Razorbacks a chance to clinch the game with a pair of free throws in the final four seconds. Anthion Bell knocked the two free throws down giving Arkansas a four-point lead, and Obasohan’s long three-pointer at the buzzer left the Tide lacking by a point.
The game was tied 12 times and there were 13 lead changes, the last with 1:44 to play when Arkansas’s Moses Kingsley got an offensive rebound and putback for a 59-58 lead. Alabama would have two more possessions in the final 48 seconds with a chance to tie or win but two Obasohan drives into the middle resulted in contested shots that were missed. A rebound and throw out to Justin Coleman for a look at a three with about four seconds to play was just short.
The loss dropped Alabama to 17-12 overall and 8-9 in Southeastern Conference play. The Razorbacks improved to 16-14 and 9-8.
Alabama concludes regular season play at Georgia Saturday. Tipoff is at 4 p.m. EST (3 p.m. central time) with television coverage on ESPN2.
Alabama was out-rebounded by the Razorbacks by 36-30 with the Hogs getting 15 offensive boards to Bama’s 7. Arkansas took 13 more field goal attempts.
Arkansas was 24-58 from the field (41.4 per cent) and Alabama 20-45 (44.4 per cent). On three-pointers, Arkansas was 3-11 (27.3 per cent) and Bama 6-18 (33.3 per cent). The Razorbacks went 11-15 on free throws (73.3 per cent), the Tide 15-23 (65.2 per cent).
Obasohan made 10-19 from the field, including 3-5 on three-pointers, and was 9-12 on free throws. The only other Bama player in double figures was back-up Shannon Hale, who scopred 10. Another back-up, Donta Hall, had only 5 points, but had 7 rebounds and 5 blocked shots.
Kingsley led the Razorbacks with 19 points and 8 rebounds. Bell had 17 and Dusty Hannahs 10.
Alabama trailed by seven points at halftime (27-34), but in less than two minutes of the second half had cut the lead to 1 with Obasohan, who had 9 first half points, scoring six points to start the second period.
Alabama tied the game at 40-40 with 14:12 to play on a Hall free throw. Hale’s reverse layup with 10:15 to play gave Bama its first lead. And from there it was a back-and-forth contest with neither team leading by more than three points until Bell’s free throws with 3.8 seconds to play make it 62-58.
Alabama Coach Avery Johnson gave credit to Arkansas, but lamented the Tide having some bad luck on loose balls and shots that didn’t fall. He said the team would go back to the drawing board and try to get better.
The only thing notable for Alabama in the first half was that the Crimson Tide made it until the 6:20 mark without being charged with a foul. In fact, the first free throws weren’t shot until the 8:15 mark when Obasohan made a pair.
All-in-all, though, the Tide had too many turnovers (7) and gave up too many offensive rebounds (6) and, as a result, Arkansas was able to take 10 more shots than Alabama. The Razorbacks made 15-31 field goals, Bama only 10-21 and that enabled the Hogs to have a 34-27 halftime lead.
Alabama had a 20-17 lead with seven minutes to play, but gave up four consecutive field goals – including a trey – to fall behind by 20-26 and could never catch up.
TIDE NOTES: The pre-game of the final regular season game of the year was honoring of seniors, including managers and trainers, but notable particularly for the recognition to senior players Retin Obasohan and Arthur Edwards.
As those are the only seniors, and since both or starters, Alabama did not have what is often a tradition, which is starting a usual bench-warmer because he is a senior. Obasohan and Edwards were joined in the starting lineup, as usual, by Riley Norris, Michael Kessens, and Jimmie Taylor.
There were some pretty good former players handling color for the two radio networks, former Tide All-America Wendell Hudson filling in for Bryan Passink on the Alabama broadcast and former Razorbacks All-America Scotty Thurmond doing the duty on the Arkansas network.
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Sean Payton, head coach of the New Orleans Saints and a friend of Bama Coach Avery Johnson, was in attendance. He had spoken to the team prior to the game.