Familiar pattern dooms Tide at Arkansas

An all-too-familiar poor offensive start sealed Alabama's doom Wednesday night against Arkansas in Fayetteville. The Crimson Tide fell behind by 10 points in the early minutes, trailed by as many as 23 points in the second half, and couldn't overcome the deficit, finally falling by a score of 81-70 to the Razorbacks.

Alabama, which had opened Southeastern Conference play with a 71-61 win over the Razorbacks in Tuscaloosa, have now fallen to 13-5 overall and 3-5 in SEC play. The Crimson Tide had opened this season with high hopes. Bama won its first 10 games and was ranked number one in the nation. After losing to the team considered the weakest in the SEC, Alabama is now is in danger of not making the NCAA Tournament.

It doesn't get easier for Bama. On Saturday the Tide will go to Gainesville to take on a Florida team that was good enough to be ranked first in the nation this week. The Gators will also be smarting from a 70-55 thrashing at the hands of Kentucky this week. Tipoff Saturday in Gainesville will be at 1 p.m. EST (noon CST) with television coverage by CBS.

Alabama's problems Wednesday night were started by its lack of offense. The Tide was down by 11-1 early in the game and had only 18 points at halftime. The Razorbacks had a 33-18 lead at intermission.

While Alabama's offense picked up in the second half, the Tide's defense went into hibernation. Arkansas built as much as a 23-point lead, in great part because the Razorbacks had many uncontested shots. A furious Alabama comeback effort couldn't get the Tide closer than nine points down the stretch.

Erwin Dudley, who had only two points at halftime, finished with 29 to lead the Tide. But the supporting cast didn't give much support. No other Tider was in double figures. Mo Williams scored only seven points before fouling out. Dudley's 29 was his career best. As usual, he didn't get the ball much, particularly in the first half. He made seven-of-nine field goals and was a sparkling 15-of-16 on free throws.

Alabama hit only 33 per cent of its field goals, while the normally poor-shooting Razorbacks hit for 48 per cent, including 56 per cent on three-point shots (nine-for-16) against Bama.

Alabama Head Coach Mark Gottfried said, "I was proud of how hard we played. I'm not pleased with how we played. The story of the game was a lack of aggressiveness on offense early. And you have to give Arkansas credit. They made a lot of shots they haven't been making; tough shots. The first half we weren't working hard to get shots. The second half was a whole different game. We scored 52 points in the second half."

The coach said, "It's the stretch run, now. Our seniors have to step up."

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