Struggling Teams Look for Positives

The under-performing Arkansas and Alabama basketball teams - both sure to overshadowed by national football signing on Wednesday - will both be trying to break two-game losing streaks headed into their 7 p.m. game at Bud Walton Arena.

Arkansas and Alabama are playing a basketball game on Wednesday night that will be the furthest thing from the minds of many of its fans on Wednesday morning.

That's because the two schools will both be busy announcing their 2014 football signing class.

Not to mention that neither the Razorbacks (13-8, 2-6) or the Crimson Tide (9-12, 3-5) have lived up to expectations on the basketball court this season heading into their 7 p.m. game at Bud Walton Arena.

"We have Alabama coming in and they're a team that is very similar to us in that the last couple of games they have come up short," Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson said on Monday morning's SEC Teleconference. "So it's a big game for both of us and one of the things we want to do is want to make sure we take care of our home court."

Neither team did that last week as Arkansas suffered a home loss Missouri (75-71) and on the road at LSU (88-74) and Alabama lost blowouts at Auburn (74-55) and on their home court to Tennessee (76-59).

"Hopefully we can play a game where we can play good from start to finish," Anderson said. "We have had some games where we have played well early on and not finished so we want to make sure we have a chance to finish.

"We have had some adversity with our basketball team, but I thought in the second half of the LSU game that we grew up and we want to build on that."

Arkansas fell down by 20 points and battled back in the second half to cut it under single digits.

"…I just saw a team that was fighting and I may have something to build on," Anderson added later. "I really do."

Anderson announced later Monday that he had reinstated sophomore Michael Qualls and Alandise Harris, who had been suspended for Saturday's game due to conduct detrimental to the team.

With them out, Arkansas' two 6-10 freshman – Bobby Portis and Moses Kingsley – were on the floor at the same time for the first extended stretch.

"I think that was one of the more positive things – seeing those guys out there and seeing that Moses that is a more physical presence and does a better job of protecting the rim for us," Anderson said. "We see that they can feed off our each other. They are both good passers and they continue to grasp playing against big bodies at this level. I thought they looked good together."

Like Arkansas, Alabama has struggled away from home and is 0-8 outside of Coleman Coliseum under head coach Anthony Grant this season.

The Crimson Tide must go to Arkansas and Florida this weekend.

"It is obviously going to be a very challenging week for us with two very challenging road opponents for us," Grant said, "that both play extremely well at their home venue.

"So for our guys, bouncing back off the performances that we had last week and the losses we suffered, we have to be able to regroup, refocus and get ready to put ourselves in position to win," Grant added.

"We have played against some pretty good competition on the road in some very hostile environments in terms of where we have played and magnitude of the game," Grant said. "For the most par, it's getting over the hump.

"Outside of a couple of games, we have had opportunities in pretty much all of our games away from home," Grant added. "The thing we have got to be able to do is maintain that fight for the 40 minutes you need to be able to pull out some of these wins on the road on somebody else's home court. It is always tough to go win in somebody else's building."

Alabama is led by 6-0 senior guard Trevor Releford (18.3) and 6-1 redshirt sophomore guard Retin Obasohan (11.7) while 6-5, 205-pound guard Levi Randolph (9.0), 6-8, 245-pound junior forward Nick Jacobs (8.7), 6-6, 215-pound guard junior Rodney Cooper (7.4) also either start or play significant minutes.

Arkansas is led by 6-5 guard Rashad Madden (13.2) – averaging 17 points in SEC games – and Portis (12.3, 6.5) while Qualls (11.7, 5.6) has struggled in league action, but still is in double figures.

Harris (9.1), senior forward Coty Clarke (8.7, 5.9), Anthlon Bell (6.5), Fred Gulley (5.0), Kingsley (4.7) and Kikko Haydar (4.0) – who had a career-high 15 points on Saturday – could also log signifcant minutes.

"From what I have seen from Arkansas, one of their strengths in their depth and the way they can throw 10 or 11 guys out there on the floor and come at you in waves," Grant said.

Moses Kingsley

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