No Change In Tide SEC Road Results

Some things change, and others remain the same. The power was out in much of Fayetteville, Ark. Thursday night, but Bud Walton Arena had both light and heat. It was yet another Tide road loss, one in which a slumping team and player got well against an Alabama team under new leadership.

Freshman guard Rotnei Clarke shook off a slump to score a career-high 26 points to lead his Arkansas Razorbacks to an 89-80 win over Alabama and interim head coach Philip Pearson.

  The win marked the first in SEC play for the Hogs, and their first since a Jan. 6 upset win over Texas.  Clarke sank 6-10 shots from three-point range. Michael Washington added 17 points and Michael Sanchez chipped in 13 for the Razorbacks.

     True freshman Courtney Fortson dished out nine assists to go with eight points. The Montgomery native was not recruited by the Tide under its previous coach.

     Bama had four men in double digits, including the best effort of the young career of true freshman JaMychal Green, who poured in 24 points on 9-11 shooting from the field. Senior Alonzo Gee went for 18 points to go along with a team-high seven rebounds.

     Sophomore Justin Knox had a solid game on both ends of the court with 12 points, six rebounds and three blocks. Junior Mikhail Torrance rounded out the double figure scorers for the Tide, scoring 11 points and dishing out seven assists.

     Pearson had promised a few tweaks to the playing rotation, but they were noticeable. Junior Demetrius Jemison re-joined the big man rotation, and senior Brandon Hollinger returned to the floor after sitting out the last two games of the Mark Gottfried era.

  Anthony Brock remained the backup at the point, and he scored seven points while handing out four assists. Brock was charged with three of the Tide's 11 turnovers. Arkansas turned the ball over a dozen times.

The battle of the back boards was basically a draw, as Arkansas led 33-32.

     The Razorbacks led 38-31 at intermission. Alabama trailed by as many as 14 points in the second half, but cut the lead to six in the final two minutes before the Razorbacks pulled away for the final margin.

     The Hogs won the game behind the line and at the line. Arkansas went 9-21 on its 3-point attempts, while the Tide shot a frigid 4-17. At the foul line, Arkansas went 28-35 compared to 8-10 for Alabama. 

The Crimson Tide threatened with an 11-3 run to cut the Arkansas advantage to six with 3:17 to play in the game. The Hogs thwarted that rally by stepping to the free-throw line and making its final 14 attempts from the charity stripe.

     Mainly due to the weather, attendance was estimated at 14,157 for the 19,200 seat arena.

     Another team with an interim coach will visit Alabama Saturday night. The Georgia Bulldogs fired Dennis Felton Thursday morning, apparently in response the Mark Gottfried's exit from the Tide program.

  Both teams plan to contact VCU coach Anthony Grant regarding their respective vacancies. Felton assistant Pete Hermann has been elevated, like Pearson, for the remainder of the season.

     "We've got to get ready to play again in 46 hours," Pearson said. "Georgia's going to be hungry, so we've got to get ready to play Saturday night."

     Tip-off for that contest is set for 6:00 p.m. with FSN set to televise.

Meanwhile, Gottfried broke his media silence in a phone conversation with Bama beat writers Thursday. Said the former Tide coach, "I will never in my lifetime utter a negative word about Alabama. I love the place.''

  Gottfried said his immediate plans are to "spend all my time with my children and my wife,'' but he plans to coach again, perhaps as soon as next season.

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