Trying to Turn The Tide

Arkansas (21-9, 10-7) heads to Alabama (12-18, 5-12) - a place it lost the last six times - on Saturday looking for a seventh straight win to put on the good side of its NCAA Tournament resume.

For all the good work that Arkansas has done the past five weeks, it knows that a loss Saturday at Alabama might be a crticial blow to its hopes of "Dancing" in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2008.

But it appears that the Razorbacks (21-9, 10-7) are focused going into their battle with the Crimson Tide (12-18, 5-12) in Tuscaloosa at 3 p.m. - a game that will only be available via ESPN3.

"There's always more work to do," Arkansas senior forward and Alabama native Coty Clarke said. "You can't just get satisfied and stop working. Success comes when nobody's watching. So we all have to put in the work — coaches, players, managers."

Arkansas, who has won six straight and eight of its last nine games and still has a chance to earn a double bye in next week's SEC Tournament, will keep trying to be streak-busters against a team that it has lost six straight to at Coleman Coliseum.

The Razorbacks have ended a nine-game losing streak at Kentucky, a 12-game one at Mississppi State and a four-game home skid to Ole Miss all in the last month and also will be looking for their third straight road win and fourth this season.

Behind a freshman school record of 35 points by Bobby Portis, Arkansas won the earlier match-up 65-59 between the two in Fayetteville to start the current tear that it is on.

"Arkansas is really playing as good as any team in our league right now," Alabama head coach Anthony Grant said. "The last time we played them, I thought our guys played well. Unfortunately we weren't able to win the game."

Grant's taken notice of the fact that Arkansas has won three of its last four road games – with the only loss being a one-point one at Missouri.

"I think (it's) experience," Grant said. "I think sometimes you just need to get a break or two here or there and win some games and gain some confidence. I think they're a product of that. I think if you look at maybe some of the road losses, prior to their success, they were close. They were right there on the cusp of winning.

"I know in our game last year, it came down to the final couple of possessions," Grant added. "They're a good team, obviously well coached. They're playing really well now and playing with great confidence."

Anderson believes the biggest difference has been his team's defense.

"With this team here, if we go out and just focus on what we do, and continue to play defense — and that's what I think has been the difference," Anderson said. "Our defense has been pretty good. That defense can keep you in games, so offensively now we're making shots, we're getting the right plays, we've got an inside game, we've got guys that are knocking down outside shots. We're getting to the free throw line. So we're doing a lot of good things that give us a chance to win.

"The key on that road is you've just got to hang in there," Anderson added. "You've got to be in there. You've got to rebound well, you've got to take care of the basketball, you've got to make shots. So there are a lot of good things you've got to do, and we're doing some of those things. That's giving us a chance to win."

Anderson knows his team is playing with a sense of urgency at the right time.-

" In March, there's a sense of urgency from all teams, especially our team," Anderson said. " Our guys are playing with a lot more confidence. Why? You get confidence from winning, so that's what has taken place. I'm sure they're feeling good about themselves, but more importantly, we have to go in and play basketball."

Arkansas will be trying to slow down Alabama guard Trevor Releford (18.7), the only player scoring in double figures for the Crimson Tide. They have gotten big efforts lately from fellow guards Levi Randolph and Shannon Hale.

"He's the head of that basketball team,' Anderson said. "But they've got Randolph who is playing well too. So we've got to make them work for everything. And we know it's going to be an emotional night for him. He'll probably have one of those senior nights out of this world. But we've got to limit the other guys so they don't have big nights."





Bobby Portis


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