Hogs Relish Back-To-Back Victories

FAYETTEVILLE -- Stan Heath didn't know what to think when he walked into the interview room at Bud Walton Arena following Tuesday's 65-63 come-from-behind win over Alabama.

"I want to go home and watch that tape one more time just to see if we did win that," Heath said. "That was an incredible, incredible win.

"We must be doing some good things now, we're getting a little bit favoring us."

Believe it.

For much of the Southeastern Conference slate, the close games had been going against the Razorbacks --a two-point loss at Mississippi State, five points to LSU, overtime at Alabama and on and on from Kentucky back to LSU to Ole Miss.

Back-to-back comeback wins though --Saturday against No. 10 Florida and Tuesday against Alabama --have the Razorbacks in position to make a legitimate run at their first NCAA Tournament berth since Heath's arrival.

After getting a "resume" win over Florida, Arkansas (18-8, 7-6 SEC) gets another chance to add to its tourney credentials Saturday when it travels to No. 10 Tennessee. For the third straight game, the Razorbacks will be playing an opponent they hold a one-game advantage over in the all-time series.

The Razorbacks have struggled, though, on the road in conference play, winning just one game this year and going 3-27 on the road in the SEC since Heath took over.

Arkansas took care of business Tuesday night at home despite being down by 18 early in the second half.

Much of the Razorbacks' second-half success came inside, where Darian Townes scored 10 of his team-high 15 points after the break. Townes and Charles Thomas were two of Arkansas' five players who scored in double figures. The Razorbacks' inside game also forced Alabama's Jermareo Davidson and Alonzo Gee into foul trouble. Both eventually fouled out. Heath said Arkansas' shot selection was lacking in the first half before the comeback.

"We had two fouls on Jermareo Davidson and we kept coming up and launching threes," Heath said. "There's nothing wrong with taking a 3-point shot but if we have a chance to go at somebody and get their third foul or for the guy just to be passive and just get some inside scoring, that's what we want to do.

"Our emotions were high and sometimes you're just a bit young out there and you're just playing but we weren't thinking."

Those shots would be available later in the shot clock if an easier scoring option wasn't available, Heath told his team.

"You can get that shot anytime you want to get that but let's try to get something else in the meantime," Heath said. "Something that's a little bit harder but we're going to have to work to get it."

After shooting less than 32 percent in the first half, the Razorbacks shot nearly 60 percent (17 of 29) from the field after the break.

It's been awhile since Arkansas was above .500 in SEC play. The Razorbacks were last above .500 in conference play early in the 2001-02 SEC season, when they started conference play with wins over Auburn and Mississippi State before losing four straight.

They haven't been above water this late in conference play since the year before --the season of Arkansas' last trip to the NCAA Tournament.

"It's about time," Heath said of the better-than-.500 SEC record. "I bet everyone else has been saying that too."

The Razorbacks are a game behind Alabama for second place in the SEC West.

But the Crimson Tide hold the tiebreaker by virtue of a split with division-leading LSU. So the Razorbacks would have to make up two games on Alabama and with the Crimson Tide have games left at home against Auburn (0-9 on the road overall) and at Mississippi State (3-9 in the SEC), picking up those games seems an unlikely proposition.

Ole Miss' loss Wednesday night at Kentucky assured Arkansas of no worse than a third-place finish.

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