Tide Falls At Fayetteville

The Alabama men's basketball team of Coach Mark Gottfried, ranked fifth in the nation, looked like the 155th-ranked team in Fayetteville Wednesday night. An Arkansas team that ranks among the worst in the Southeastern Conference started a make-shift line-up against Alabama and the little-used Razorbacks blistered Bama. The Tide fought back to make it look closer than it was as Arkansas defeated the Tide, 67-59.

The loss dropped Alabama to 22-5 overall and 10-3 in SEC play. With three games to play Alabama has a two-game lead over Mississippi (which Bama must play in Oxford) in the SEC Western Division and a one-game lead over Florida for the SEC crown.

Alabama will host seventh-ranked Florida at 1 p.m. CST Saturday in Coleman Coliseum. The game, which could decide the SEC regular season championship, will be nationally-telecast by CBS.

Earlier this year Alabama had defeated Arkansas 109-94, a game in which Bama built a 35-point lead on the Razorbacks. Wednesday night Alabama trailed by double digits through most of the game. The Tide was down by as many as 17 and fought back to within four in the last two minutes of the game, but in those last two minutes did not have a defensive stop.

Alabama hit only 16 of 61 shots in the game, 26 per cent. Although he wasn't the only cold-hand for the Tide, all-too-typical of Tide play was Rod Grizzard missing all nine of his field goal attempts.

Alabama never led in the game as the Razorbacks took a 33-19 first half lead.

Two freshmen were the only Tide players able to handle the pressure of playing in Arkansas's Bud Walton Arena. Earnest Williams had 18, while Mo Williams had a career-high 17 points. The only other Alabama player in double figures was Erwin Dudley, last week's SEC Player of the Week. Dudley had another double-double, the 32nd of his career, but even with 10 points and 11 rebounds it was not a good game by Dudley. In addition to his scoring, Williams had eight rebounds and five assists (assists were hard to come by the way Alabama was shooting) and only one turnovers.

As has been the case in several road games this year, Alabama shooting was atrocious. The Tide managed to hit only 16 of 64 shots, only 25 per cent. Bama was also 25 per cent from three-point range, seven-of-28. Bama did hit 20 of 26 free throws, a fine 77 per cent effort. Arkansas didn't shoot as well on free throws, but the Razorbacks shot more of them and made one more, 21 of 33. The Hogs were also only so-so from the field, 38 per cent, 40 per cent on treys.

Alabama had a slight rebounding edge, 43-39.

Alabama Head Coach Mark Gottfried said, "It's disappointing. We're not giving ourselves a chance when we can't make shots. We got in a hole early and spent all night trying to dig out of it."

SEC Commissioner Roy Kramer was on hand for the game and the commissioner may be having something to say to Gottfried about it. Gottfried, who got a technical early in the game, said he didn't think the game had been well-officiated.

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