Hogs' Margin Sends Writers Scurrying

FAYETTEVILLE -- But for Justin Tubbs' 3-point shot for No. 8 Alabama with 26 seconds left, Arkansas would have had its most one-sided win ever over the Tide on Saturday.

The Razorbacks beat 'Bama 87-58 in 2001. On Saturday they led by as much as 36, 86-50, before settling for an 88-61 win.

According to UA radio analyst Rick Schaeffer, Arkansas' 27-point win was still its most one-sided ever over a Top-10 opponent.

The Hogs beat No. 6 Kansas 103-86 in 1986 and pounded No. 8 Kentucky 105-88 in their first SEC season, 1992, for their two biggest previous margins over Top-10 teams.

Typical of Alabama's day was that all five of its starters originally lined up on the wrong end of the court before the second half.

"We were not ready to take on another team's best shot, and that's my responsibility," Alabama coach Mark Gottfried said. "We were not nearly as prepared as we should have been."

While Gottfried said Tide point guard Ronald Steele's knee and ankle ailments had something to do with his four turnovers, Gottfried had no explanation for Alabama forward Jermareo Davidson's sub-par day (5 points, 6 rebounds).

Arkansas forward Charles Thomas (12 points, 11 rebounds) offered this explanation: "We wanted to take the pressure off our coaches today, so they wouldn't pull their hair out. Of course, coach (Stan) Heath doesn't have any hair to pull out."

Gottfried used words like "terrific" and "phenomenal" to describe Arkansas' play, and he noted, "I have as much respect for their inside guys as (for) any team in the league."

He said once Steven Hill blocked some early Alabama shots, the Tide turned tentative.

"We have not played that poorly all year," Gottfried said.



TOWNES BOUNCES BACK

Hogs junior forward Darian Townes, disciplined after an emotional display during the Tulsa-UA game, returned to block four shots in the first half against Alabama and score eight points in the second half.

"Darian was ready to play," Heath said. "He had a good last couple of days in practice. He was probably uncomfortable at first today, but once he settled in he gave us a nice lift."

Thomas gave Townes a vote of confidence.

"Darian is a great player," Thomas said. "He can do a lot of things for us. Today he shut out the outside stuff and had outstanding focus on the court."

Hogs guard Patrick Beverley added, "Darian is a great offensive player and defensive player. All he has to do is stay focused. This was not his best game, but everyone on our team knows what he can do."



ERVIN STRIKES AGAIN

As a sophomore at Mississippi State, Gary Ervin started 33 of 34 games and had two double-doubles, including a 14-assist game. On Saturday he enjoyed a double-double for Arkansas with 18 points and 11 assists.

"To me, he's one of the best point guards in the nation," Hogs junior Sonny Weems said. "He's kind of taken over that leader role."

Heath said it helped Ervin to have guarded Steele before Saturday.



GOTTFRIED ON SABAN

Gottfried was asked how Alabama's hiring of football coach Nick Saban to a rich contract might affect other sports at Alabama and in the SEC.

"I think it will definitely have an effect, but to what extent I don't know," Gottfried said. "Our fans are sure excited about it."




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