Things started great in the Alabama Athletics Department Wednesday, what with another national football football recruiting title. Things didn’t end so great, though, as the men’s basketball team went on the road and took an 87-68 thumping against Arkansas at Fayetteville’s Bud Walton Arena.
The Razorbacks have won five straight conference games. Eighteen Tide turnovers led to 28 Arkansas points.
The Tide defense held the Razorbacks without a field goal for an eight-minute stretch in the first half, but could not get a lead of over four points. In a first 20 minutes that featured two ties and two lead changes, the halftime score was 35-27, Arkansas. Dazon Ingram had 11 of his 14 points at intermission.
Alabama had two other men in double figures as Braxton Key scored a dozen, while Ar’Mond Davis came off the bench to contribute ten points. Bola Olaniyan grabbed nine rebounds to lead the Tide on the glass.
The turnover bug bit Bama (13-8, 6-3 SEC) ten times in the first half leading to nine Arkansas points. Bama also had a field goal draft in the first stanza of nearly six minutes. Meanwhile, the Hogs (17-5, 6-3) used a 21-6 run to build their lead.
“We got outplayed from the start,” said Alabama Coach Avery Johnson. “We didn’t take care of the ball, couldn’t get our defense set, and it wasn’t one of our better performances of the year.
“We never could really get any continual momentum tonight Give (Arkansas) credit. They just had more energy and a higher level of concentration than we did.”
Bama has lost nine of its last ten games in Fayetteville.
“To lose at Bud Walton Arena is not a bad loss,” said former Arkansas player Pat Bradley of the SEC Network.
Try telling that to the combatants. Or the Head Coach.
“They dominated us today. The team that has the mental toughness throughout the duration of the game is going to be successful. They made a concerted effort to disrupt our offense, and the result of that was turnovers,” Johnson said.
Johnson added, “We’re a better team than we showed tonight, but at the same time, you’ve got to man up.”
Though Bama scored two quick buckets to open the second half and cut the lead to four points, the Crimson Tide would draw no closer. That’s because the snowball known as “SEC Road Loss” began to roll downhill at a rapid rate. The Hogs hit six straight buckets and extended their lead to 57-38 at the 11:36 mark. After two straight Dusty Hannahs treys, Johnson called time to try to stop the bleeding. Hannahs led Arkansas with 19 points off the bench.
In all, the Hogs bench totaled 40 points. Arkansas totaled 52 second half points to pull away. The Hogs made nearly 58 per cent from the floor in the second half. For the game, the Razorbacks nailed 11-23 behind the arc, a 48 per cent clip.
There were very few second half highlights for Alabama, but walk-on guard Lawson Schaeffer had two nice assists and hit a pair of free throws in the final minutes, so there’s that.
Also, Alabama made 80 per cent of its free throws (20-25), while out-boarding the Hogs, 36-32.
Next up for Alabama is a home game featuring a rematch against state rival Auburn (14-8, 3-6). The Tigers lost 87-77 at home to Tennessee Tuesday. Tip time at Coleman Coliseum is set for 7:30 p.m. CT, with TV coverage from the SEC Network.
“We want our fans to be loud, rowdy, and proud. We’ve got to protect our home court no matter who we’re playing,” said Johnson. “We’ve got to play a lot better than we did tonight.”