Arkansas Gets Rolled At Home

FAYETTEVILLE -- Even after playing less than his best game, Alabama junior Kennedy Winston still felt good enough to shake his head at the Arkansas crowd after his first free throw swished through for a three-point lead with 9.8 seconds remaining.

Winston missed the second, but Arkansas junior Eric Ferguson's open look from the 3-point line came up short and the Crimson Tide held on for a 64-61 win against Arkansas on Tuesday before a season-high crowd of 18,533 in Bud Walton Arena.

The Razorbacks (13-3, 1-2 Southeastern Conference) dropped their second straight conference game and Alabama (13-3, 2-1) rallied from a first-half deficit to capture consecutive wins in Fayetteville for the first time since Arkansas joined the SEC in 1991.

Only a classless fan chucking a water bottle on the court after the game could mar what was otherwise a well-played game worthy of its prime-time slot on ESPN.

"This is a good win for us because I think we beat a good team," said Alabama coach Mark Gottfried. "From a year ago to today, I'm impressed with what (Arkansas is) doing offensively and defensively, so I'm proud of our win because we beat a good squad."

Alabama came back from a 22-point hole to beat Arkansas 72-68 in overtime last March and this time around the Tide pieced together a 15-0 run between the first and second halves to build a 39-33 lead while Arkansas went more than nine minutes without scoring.

"Outside of that stretch, I thought we really played well," said Arkansas coach Stan Heath, whose team will try to bounce back at No. 11 Mississippi State on Saturday.

"You get up by nine and really try to execute and we just rushed and hurried ourselves. Believe me, there will be a big part of practice where we cut out those (video) clips and get that out of our system where it doesn't happen anymore. I can't fault these guys.

"I love how they played out there. Even with that stretch, we still had a chance to tie it. We got a clean look and it just didn't go down. I see those shots go down all the time. It just didn't happen for us tonight."

Arkansas came within a point twice in the final minutes and never trailed by more than five in the last 12, but Winston scored 10 of his 13 points in the last 4:26 to keep the Razorbacks at bay.

"I knew it was my time to step up and play my one-on-one game," said Winston, who went nearly 30 minute between his second and third field goals.

Alabama hammered Arkansas on the glass, outrebounding Arkansas 32-25, and the Tide was the second straight opponent to shoot 54 percent or better against the Razorbacks defense.

Arkansas had four players in double figures led by Ronnie Brewer's 15 on 6 of 13 shooting. Freshman center Darian Townes had 14, Jonathon Modica added 11 and Olu Famutimi scored 10, but only two in the second half.

Alabama senior guard Earnest Shelton snapped out of a 4 of 17 shooting slump from the 3-point line and had a game-high 18 points on 7 of 11 shooting (4 of 9 from 3). Tide junior forward Chuck Davis had 17 points and 9 rebounds.

Davis only scored five points after halftime, but his dunk pushed Alabama ahead 55-50 with 6:09 to play and his basket off an inbounds play again widened the lead from one to 58-55 less than two minutes later.

"They made more plays than we did in the end," Brewer said. "We played tough the entire game, we've just got to knock down shots. Losing a game is always disappointing, especially in front of your fans. We had a good look at the basket at the end of the game and it just didn't fall."

Arkansas made three turnovers coming out of intermission, but it could have been worse if not for Steven Hill on the defensive end.

Hill, whose father Troy Hill played with Gottfried at Oral Roberts, blocked four of his five shots in the first three minutes of the second half, including an alteration and two straight rejections against Winston on one possession, a swat against Davidson and another on a soft offering from Winston.

"I'm kicking myself for not recruiting him harder," Gottfried said.

Townes was a force in both halves hitting shots over and drawing fouls on Jermareo Davidson. Townes scored eight points, including 4 of 4 from the foul line, in a four-minute stretch to keep Arkansas close.

"I saw they were playing behind me, so I thought I could be a factor inside," Townes said.

Arkansas and Alabama came out swinging and went blow for blow in the first eight minutes.

Famutimi and Brewer hit 3-pointers to open the game and had the crowd roaring up 6-2, but Alabama fought back to take a 9-8 lead on a 3 by Shelton, a drive by Winston and a dunk by Davis.

Alabama built a 14-10 lead after a 3 by Ronald Steele, but Townes scored Arkansas' next six points on a turnaround, a layup reward for running the floor and a bank shot Tim Duncan would have been proud of to lock it up at 16.

The rest of the half would be decided by runs by the Tide and Hogs.

The Razorbacks connected on the first combination with two 3-pointers by Famutimi and Thomas, a Brewer bucket and a miracle shot by Modica in the lane.

Brewer made it a 12-4 run and a 29-22 lead with a steal and dunk at the 6:01 mark, leading Gottfried to call a timeout.

Davis answered with a field goal, but Rashard Sullivan made a pull-up jumper and atoned for a turnover with a furious block on a layup attempt by Steele that led to an alley-oop from Brewer to Famutimi for a slam and a 33-24 lead with 4:21 to play in the half.

Gottfried had to call another timeout and made it a full one to take the crowd out of the game and the Tide regrouped.

Shelton hit a 3 out of the timeout and Arkansas made a series of bad decisions on offense with Ferguson on the bench charged for three fouls.

Alabama scored off each bad possession to finish the half on a 10-0 run for a 34-33 lead at halftime.

"The last four minutes of the first half was the key part of the game," Gottfried said.

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