The Crimson Tide was confidently clutching a one-point lead.
It might not seem like much, but forward Kennedy Winston said the advantage meant plenty to Alabama during its gutty 64-61 win against the Hogs. The Crimson Tide entered the game with two-straight, double-digit losses on the road -- at Wisconsin and at Vanderbilt -- and trailed both by more than 10 points at the half.
So when Alabama wiped out Arkansas' 33-24 lead by scoring 10 straight points in the final 4:31 of the half, Winston said the Crimson Tide held mounds of confidence.
"The last couple road games we've had, when a team makes a run on us like that (in the first half), we usually go down by like 20 before the half," Winston said about Alabama's 34-33 halftime lead. "We came in the halftime and we had no doubt in our mind we were going to win the game."
It wasn't that easy in the second half, but Alabama leaned on Winston, Earnest Shelton and Chuck Davis to slip out of Arkansas with an important win. The trio made the plays on the offensive end that were missing last Wednesday, when Alabama was drilled by Southeastern Conference Eastern Division leading Vanderbilt, 70-57.
"We went to Vandy and we stunk," Gottfried said. "We had to come back and look in the mirror and address some things."
The self-evaluation worked because Shelton notched a game-high 18 points, including 4 of 9 from behind the 3-point line. Davis pounded away on the inside, scoring 17 points and grabbing 9 rebounds. Winston got off to a slow start, but scored 13 points, including Alabama's final five.
But Gottfried handed most of the credit to Alabama's defense, which held the Razorbacks to 45.5 percent from the floor (25 of 55). Arkansas scored its second-lowest point total of the season.
"I thought what determined the game was our defense," said Gottfried, who earned the 200th win of his coaching career. "We needed to settle down on offense and keep executing, but I like a lot of things about this game."
Alabama put pressure on Arkansas at the end of the first half and beginning of the second, scoring 15 straight points to grab a 39-33 lead. In all, the Crimson Tide's run lasted more than eight minutes and put Alabama in position to earn its first road win since its 72-54 victory at Alabama State on Dec. 7.
Kennedy said the road victory will give Alabama a huge boost and Davis called it very satisfying. Gottfried said it was good to see the Tide succeed in a hostile environment and Shelton believes it was a huge win for Alabama's hopes.
"We just found a way to execute down the stretch," Shelton said. "You've got to find a way to win on the road.
"That's the difference between being an OK team and being a good team."
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