Alabama 69, Arkansas 56

Tony Mitchell's career-high 27 points help rally Alabama past Arkansas 69-56 and grab at least a share of the SEC Western Division title Saturday night in Tuscaloosa before a sellout crowd of 15,383 fans at Coleman Coliseum.

TUSCALOOSA – The only thing that Alabama's Tony Mitchell didn't do on Saturday night was jump into a phone booth and change into a Superman costume.

But as far as Arkansas is concerned, he certainly played the part without a cape.

Mitchell had 27 points – many of them high-flying acrobatic ones - and 9 rebounds to lead the Crimson Tide to a 69-56 win over the Razorbacks and at least a share of SEC Western Division title before a sellout crowd of 15,383 fans at Coleman Coliseum.

"We have no excuses," Arkansas head coach John Pelphrey said. "Alabama was just better than us."

The Razorbacks (16-10, 5-7) led 49-44 with 11:58 left in the game, but were outscored 25-7 from that point on.

"Well, coming here we knew we would have to play 40 minutes of basketball," Pelphrey said. "I thought we competed hard there for a really long period of time and put ourselves in position to win...But we just couldn't close it out and you have to give credit to Alabama. Alabama was just better than us down the stretch."

Trevor Releford added 17 and JaMychal Green 16 points and 9 rebounds and proved to be very able sidekicks as the Crimson Tide (18-8, 10-2) kept a four-game lead over second-place Mississippi State.

"I am just very proud of our guys," Alabama head coach Anthony Grant said. "I think we came out with great focus, great energy today against a very tough, very talented Arkansas team, fought to the very end and I'm glad we came out with the win."

It also was sweet revenge for Alabama, who Arkansas had downed in Fayetteville in January.

"That was our main focus this week, to get them back because they got us at their place," Releford said. "We couldn't let them sweep us and get a win at Coleman. So we just came out with a lot of energy and just played our game."

Mitchell was 11-of-15 from the field and dished out three assists and had two steals for good measure.

"He is a high energy guy and he is constantly flying to the basket for those offensive rebounds," Pelphrey said. "He impacts the game with those transition baskets, the offensive rebounds and he has worked very hard on getting better."

It was Mitchell's fifth game of over 20 points in his team's last six contests.

"I do what I can to help my team win," Mitchell said. "If I have to go get every rebound, go get every dunk, anything I can do to help my team I will."

Rotnei Clarke had 21 points to lead the Razorbacks, who had the game tied 51-51 with 8:15 left.

Alabama rolled from that point on with six straight points, including two buckets from Releford and an emphatic one-handed dunk by Mitchell that sent his team up 57-51 with 6:32 left.

His rebound basket and Green's slam pushed the lead to 63-54 and Arkansas never got closer than five from that point on.

Another one-handed dunk by Mitchell capped what was a 25-6 run..

"I was just trying to get my team hyped, keep us in the game so we knew where were at and that we still had more in the tank to finish the game," Mitchell said of his high wire act.

Pelphrey took his next-to-last timeout with the score 53-51 and a TV timeout coming at the next dead ball.

Quizzed about it after the game, he replied he was trying to stop a run that was 9-2 at that point.

"I didn't want any 8-0 or 9-0 runs without me stopping it," Pelphrey said. "If I had to use them all, I wasn't going to let that happen. At best we could I wanted to keep the crowd out of it. Certainly there were some athletic plays being made in transition and I wanted to make sure we got back down the court, we were as focused as we needed to be and try to keep it a two-possession game, as close as possible.

"I knew it (was the next-to-last timeout), but I didn't think we needed to hold onto it there," Pelphrey said.

One big difference was on the boards down the stretch. Arkansas was six rebounds ahead of Alabama before its run started and the two teams finished 32-32 in caroms.

"I thought that we really competed down the stretch," Grant said. "They were plus six at one time before we made our run."

Marcus Britt had 8 points, Jeff Peterson 7 and Marshawn Powell 5 for the Razorbacks.

Clarke - who was booed every time touched the ball out of respect - had 14 of his 21 in the first half, which ended with the scored tied 31-31.

"I tried to stay focused on the things going on on the floor," Clarke said. "We knew we are going into hostile environments. We just try to focus on our guys, on our team and trying to do everything to get better."

Arkansas was shooting 55 percent from the field when it led 30-26 late in the first half, but ended the night just 39.1 percent from the field.

Alabama's 55.2 percent marksmanship in the second half lifted it to 47.5 percent for the contest.

"Execution was the main thing," Arkansas sophomore Glenn Bryant said. "We didn't execute as well as we should have. We didn't execute as well as we did in the first half. They just played harder than us at the end."

Delvon Johnson suffered a hip-pointer on the last play of the first half and didn't start the second half, but did manage to play some minutes after intermission.

"That was very courageous on his part," Pelphrey said.

Things doesn't get any easier for Arkansas in its next game as Kentucky visits Bud Walton Arena on Wednesday.


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