Arkansas 93, Alabama 91

On an off night, Bobby Portis still provided the key play for Arkansas in a 93-91 overtime victory over Alabama on Thursday night at Bud Walton Arena. Michael Qualls scored a career-high 30, but it was a Portis tip-in at the buzzer that was the difference.

FAYETTEVILLE — One year after delivering the best game of his career against Alabama, Bobby Portis delivered the biggest moment Thursday night.

After committing a foul in the closing seconds of regulation that allowed the Crimson Tide to tie the game with a three-point play, Portis tipped in a missed shot by Ky Madden as time expired in overtime to give Arkansas a 93-91 win at Bud Walton Arena. The Razorbacks snapped a two-game losing streak.

"It was one for the ages, one you will always talk about," Arkansas coach Mike Anderson said. "It was a classic. You'll look back and reflect and our team played with a lot of grit to put ourselves in position to win. We may look back and it could be a defining moment for us this year."

The play came 50 weeks after Portis scored a career-high 35 points in a win over Alabama and a little more than a year after Michael Qualls' similar putback in the same basket to beat Kentucky in overtime.

"When I tipped it in I was like 'oh yeah, I'm going to make something happen,'" Portis said. "I knew I had messed up in regulation when I had fouled him and got and-one, then he came down and hit that play (the three), so I knew I had to do something to make up."

Portis was covering Alabama center Shannon Hale when the tying three-pointer was launched with 8.8 seconds left.

Portis, 6-11 sophomore, was left covering Alabama point guard Justin Coleman, a slumping reserve, when the visitors stayed in the game. Coleman led the Tide with 22 points, all inthe second half. Coleman had made only 1 of 13 threes since the start of the new year. He hit 5 of 7 on treys against the Hogs.

"Coleman was shooting them from deep," Anderson said. "So we have to make him go deeper. He had it going and they found a way to stay in the game. We recruited him and I've known him since he was a little kid, so he probably wanted to show us."

Qualls scored a career-high 30 points for Arkansas (14-4, 3-2 SEC) Thursday. He scored eight points in overtime, including a pair of free throws with 21 seconds remaining to give the Razorbacks a 91-88 lead.

Alabama (12-6, 2-3) tied the game on a 3-pointer by Hale with 8.8 seconds remaining in overtime, setting the stage for the Razorbacks' last-second heroics. Madden drove into traffic and put up an off-balanced shot as time wound down, but none of the Crimson Tide boxed out Portis, allowing him to tip the ball in over his head.

The Razorbacks avoided a second straight home loss and salvaged a game they appeared to have control of in the opening minutes. Arkansas led by 10 points early in the game, but Alabama stiffened up defensively and pulled to within 34-30 at halftime.

The game was tied 15 times and the teams traded leads 14 times in the final 25 minutes, including overtime. The Razorbacks led 78-73 with 1 minute remaining left in regulation but couldn't close the deal.

Out of position, Portis fouled Michael Kessens on his way up for a shot with 2 seconds remaining. Kessens made the basket and free throw to send the game to overtime.

"There are lessons to be learned," Anderson said. "You don't foul there. But we came to the huddle and went on to the next play. There was another play, the fifth foul by Alandise Harris away from the basket with 56 left when we were up 5 points. We did some things we have to clean up."

Justin Coleman led the Crimson Tide with 22 points and Ricky Tarrant added 21 points. Alabama had four players foul out of the game.

Portis, who scored a career-high 35 points against Alabama last season, scored 10 Thursday to along with 13 rebounds. Madden had 17 points and Anton Beard scored 11 points.

The Hogs had spent the week focusing on defense after allowing 96 points on 58 percent shooting from Ole Miss on Saturday night. Alabama canned 49.1 percent, but the Hogs countered by winning the turnover battle, 17 to 10, and the rebounds, 47-34, with 21 offensive rebounds.

"The possession game was big," Anderson said. "They played a lot of zone and there is a tradeoff there, you can go rebound."

Anderson thought there was some improvement on the defensive end.

"Energy," he said. "Our energy was better. We were trying to fix things. Defense was a lot better. Alabama did hit some incredible shots."

Still, giving up almost 50 percent produced questions that Arkansas players did not want to address in the post-game session with the media. When the defensive questions started, Qualls ducked his head almost to the table.

Finally, the junior guard looked up and said, "It's going to get better."

A little later, when Coleman's hot shooting came up, Qualls interjected, "Yeah, they hit almost 50 percent, but look at him. Look at the threes he was making. He was lighting it up. He played real big. It was his night."

Portis was amazed at Shannon's tying three.

"I was on him and he pump faked me and I didn't bite," Portis said. "Usually, when someone pump fakes, they aren't going to make it on the shot. But he did."

Alabama coach Anthony Grant was proud of his team, losers of three straight.

"We didn't quit," he said. "We fought back. We had guys step up. But you can't have 17 turnovers and lose the rebounding, giving up 21 offensive boards. It's tough to win on the road when you do that, against a talented Arkansas team.

"Qualls was the difference. He did a great job.

"We put ourselves in position but Arkansas made one more play. Portis did a great job on the rebound. He did what he's supposed to do, he chased it on the miss."

Anderson credited Madden for the drive deep into the Alabama defense, forcing a collapse.

"Ky had three guys on him and somehow got the shot up to the rim," Anderson said. "That helped Bobby. Ky made some plays, so did Anton Beard, Alandise Harris and Jacorey Williams. And, Michael Qualls -- two days after his birthday -- he had a big night."

Arkansas will travel to Missouri on Saturday.

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