Tide Rolls Over Hogs

Alabama turned things around in the second half Wednesday and turned in the Crimson Tide's first Southeastern Conference basketball victory of the year with an 81-65 victory over Arkansas in Tuscaloosa. Bama played very poorly in the first half and trailed most of that period, but was down only a point at intermission.

The win raised Bama's record to 9-4 and evened the Crimson Tide's SEC mark at 1-1. Arkansas fell to 8-6 overall and is winless in three conference games. Bama ran its home winning streak to 10 games. Alabama has now won its last five SEC home openers.

Saturday Alabama will host Auburn in Coleman Coliseum at 6 p.m. CST with regional television coverage by Fox.

The Crimson Tide was at far from its best in the first half. Bama Head Coach Mark Gottfried said, "It was a combination of us not playing very well and Arkansas making some shots they had not been making. From that standpoint, I thought that being down one point wasn't that bad."

Although Arkansas is frenetic in appearance, its defense is actually quite poor. Alabama had little trouble with the Razorbacks when the Tide took the time to work its offense. However, in the first half Bama got caught up in the Arkansas pace, a run-and-gun mentality that produced needless turnovers and poor shots. Meanwhile, the Razorbacks were good on seven-of-12 three point shots (58.3 per cent).

Gottfried said, "We shored up some things in the second half." Bama outscored Arkansas 47-30 in the second half and built as much as a 21-point lead. Bama raised its field goal percentage from 44.8 per cent in the first half to 56.5 per cent in the second half (50 per cent for the game). And the Razorbacks made only one of eight three-point attempts in the second period. Arkansas shot 42.6 per cent from the field.

Gottfried said one thing that he wanted changed in the second half was getting sophomore forward Kennedy Winston more involved in the offense. Winston had only six points at intermission, but finished with a game-high 25 points.

"Offensively, in the second half, we executed our offense and ended up going to the foul line and making some shots," Gottfried said. "We shot 56 per cent from the field for the second half and held them (Arkansas) to 38 per cent and that was the difference in the game."

Earnest Shelton didn't shoot well – only four-of-13 from the field including only three-of-nine from three-point range – but finished with 19 points. Shelton hit eight-of-12 free throws as Alabama shot 35 foul shots to only 10 for Arkansas. However, unlike Alabama's loss at LSU Saturday in which LSU shot 36 foul shots to Bama's nine, there was no controversy about the foul-fest by the Razorbacks. (Bama was good on 25 of 35, Arkansas five of 10.)

Arkansas actually outscored Alabama from the field by four points, 60-56. Both teams had 26 field goals, but Arkansas hit eight-of-20 three-point shots, Alabama only four-of-14.

Chuck Davis and Jermareo Davidson dominated the Razorbacks inside. Davis scored 17 points and pulled down nine rebounds, while Davidson blocked six shots. Davis also had two blocked shots, two assists, and a steal.

Jonathon Modica came off the bench to score 17 points for Arkansas, the only Razorback in double figures.

Although Arkansas had a slight edge in rebounding (37-34), Bama had 34 points in the paint to only 26 for the Hogs. Bama forced 16 turnovers, which resulted in 22 Alabama points, while Arkansas scored only 10 points off the Tide's 11 turnovers. Nine of those Alabama turnovers came in the first half and Arkansas did not get a point from either of the Tide second half miscues.

Arkansas led by as many as five points late in the first half against the Tide and it appeared the Razorbacks might go to intermission with a comfortable lead. But the Hogs missed a couple of scoring opportunities and when Emmett Thomas threw down a dunk in the final seconds of the first half the Tide trailed by only a point.

Winston opened second half scoring with a three-point shot that gave Alabama a 37-35 advantage, and Bama never surrendered the lead. Alabama held the Razorbacks to only three field goals in the first 13:47 of the second half and the Tide opened with a 30-11 run to give Alabama a 64-46 lead with 6:36 to play. When Winston hit a pair of free throws with 5:38 to play, Alabama had a 21-point edge, 69-48.


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