The Razorbacks played their best road game of the season on Saturday, but the end result was the same.
Trevor Releford had 16 points and benched senior JaMychal Green added 10 of his 14 points after halftime as Alabama rallied from both first and second-half deficits to down Arkansas 72-66 Saturday afternoon in Tuscaloosa.
"I was probably disappointed that we lost, but I was more encouraged than I was discouraged," Razorback head coach Mike Anderson said, "because I thought we showed a different attitude on the road. We were in position to win this game and it just came down to lack of execution going down the stretch."
Arkansas (15-6, 3-3) fell to 0-6 away from Bud Walton Arena while Alabama (14-3, 3-4) – once ranked seventh in the country - ended a four-game losing streak.
"When you go on the road, it is difficult on the road and you are playing against a talented Alabama team that was very, very hungry because they had a tough little streak here," Anderson said. "At the same time, I thought they came out and punched and we punched back and it went back and forth.
"I thought even in the second half that we were really playing some good basketball," Anderson added. "But they get to the free throw line and make their free throws. I thought that was the big, big difference in the game, but it wasn't because of a lack of effort from our guys."
Alabama head coach Anthony Grant, who called his team out after a road loss to South Carolina earlier in the week, was obviously pleased with the win.
"It's always good to win, our guys certainly needed it," Alabama head coach Anthony Grant said. "They came in with great poise and figured out, from a defensive standpoint, how to make us stay down a little bit. We, I thought, had success in the first half attacking and being aggressive. Their zone really slowed us down, slowed the tempo of the game down.
"I'm proud of our guys for finding a way, when Arkansas took the lead during the second half; our guys never lost their poise, stayed with it and found a way to come out with the win," Grant added. "It was good to see our guys get stops at the end of the game, come up with some big rebounds and make some free throws to close it out."
Rickey Scott led the Razorbacks with 18 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists while Mardarcus Wade had 12 points and B.J. Young 11 points and 6 rebounds for the visitors.
"I definitely think we took a step forward," Scott said. " I believe this is the best road game we've ever had. At that six-minute mark, it was fun and exciting. Even though it was away, I felt like I was at home just because we were actually talking. That's one thing, when we went to Kentucky we didn't do. As long as we keep on talking on the road games, I think we'll get more wins."
Anderson liked what he saw from his young team.
"I just thought that some guys really stepped up for us," Anderson said. "I thought Rickey Scott really played at the level he can play. He is capable of doing that.
"Freshman forward DeVonta Abron (8 points, 5 rebounds) came in during the second half and he was just giving us that beast mode that we talk about and that you have got to have on the road," Anderson continued.
"A lot of things have got to go well for you on the road," Anderson added, "but the only thing is right there going down the stretch we had a couple of opportunities where we are up one and we have chances to put some pressure on Alabama and we just couldn't make that play."
Razorback freshman forward Hunter Mickelson, who had blocked at least one shot in each of his 20 college games, did not record a swat on Saturday.
"When I look out there on the floor, there are three freshmen out there most of the time," Anderson said. "I thought our guys got a little bit better. I think of all the games we played on the road, I think this was the best one we played.
"I am not into moral victories, but I just saw some positives that I think this team will take and learn from," Anderson added.
Arkansas jumped to 5-0 and 17-12 leads, but ended up being down trailed 37-30 at halftime.
"I thought we got off to a good start, but we didn't quite finish the half as well," Anderson said. "But if you are seven points down on the road, you are within striking distance and sure enough we came out and the first five minutes and we really got after it."
The biggest change was on the boards as
Arkansas was outrebounded 18-10 in the opening 20 minutes.
But the Razorbacks snatched 18 of the first 26 rebounds of the second half to give itself a chance to win.
"I thought we became a blue collar team and started doing a lot of little things," Anderson said. "Alabama's strength is their athleticism and they can throw it up there and go get it. But I thought in the second half, we did a good job of really defending inside that paint area."
Arkansas charged back, going on a 10-2 run later in the half that that saw it take a 50-47 lead when 11 minutes left when Julysess Nobles threw an inbounds pass off the back of Alabama defender, scored and added a free throw.
Arkansas still led 56-54 after two straight plays by Rashad Madden resulted in baskets by fellow freshmen Mickelson and Young.
"Ky Madden came out there and gave us some big, big minutes," Anderson said. "It wasn't in the scoring department, but he gave us some big minutes."
But the Crimson Tide went on a 9-0 run to take 63-56 lead on Releford's basket with 2:06 left.
Scott's 3-pointer and his steal and lay-up got the Razorbacks to within 63-61 at the 1:52 mark, but the Crimson Tide closed the game out at the free throw line.
Tony Mitchell and Andrew Steele each added 11 for Alabama, who shot 50 percent from the field and was 20 of 25 from the field.
Arkansas shot 42.9 percent from the field, was 6-of-17 from 3-point range and 12-of-17 from the line.
The Crimson Tide grabbed the game's last seven rebounds to win the board battle 33-26 and had 17 turnovers to Arkansas' 16.
Arkansas will host Vanderbilt Tuesday night at 8 p.m. in an attempt to go 16-0 at Bud Walton Arena this season.
The Commodores (16-5, 5-1) have won 10 of their last 11 games after downing visiting Middle Tennessee (20-3) on Saturday 84-77.
"I saw a different mindset from our guys today," Anderson said. "We fought and we fought and we fought throughout even when adversity took place. We were down early, but we didn't panic and we just kept working. That is a sign that we are getting better."
Alabama 72, Arkansas 66
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