But Hendrix made his presence even more noticeable in the second half of Saturday's 63-57 loss to Arkansas, scoring 23 points to help the Crimson Tide nearly pull off the comeback victory.
Despite being guarded primarily by Arkansas center Steven Hill, Hendrix dominated the paint in the second half. The sophomore made 10 shots, grabbed six rebounds and scored all but 16 of Alabama's points following halftime.
"There was a sense of urgency. Once you are down, you know you have to step your game up a notch," said Hendrix, who finished with 28 points and 11 rebounds. "Unfortunately, we couldn't come out in the first half with the same aggressiveness that we had in the second."
The Crimson Tide made a conscious effort to get the ball in the post to Hendrix, who had no trouble scoring around the basket after being held to just five points in the first half.
"He's a tremendous player. He's so strong and that's what really gave especially me some problems," Hill said. "They kept going to him time after time and he got a lot of shots, a lot of touches.
"Luckily, everyone else was able to shut down their man and just contain it to Hendrix scoring."
Arkansas forward Charles Thomas injured his right shoulder after getting intentionally fouled by Hendrix with less than a minute remaining.
With the Razorbacks holding a 59-53 lead, Thomas drove to the basket and got hit hard by Hendrix while going up for a slam dunk.
After hitting the floor, Thomas writhed around in pain, holding his right shoulder. Thomas got up after a few moments, but he never returned to the game. He finished with six points and four rebounds.
"My initial thoughts and I'm hoping I'm right, is I think it's a bruise and I think he's going to be fine," Arkansas coach Stan Heath said. "I think these extra days (between games) will help us."
Time For A Change
Heath shuffled up his lineup again Saturday, starting junior Vincent Hunter at forward instead of Thomas.
Thomas had started all but two games this season, but his recent struggles caused Heath to make a change. Heath decided to turn to Hunter, who had not started a game since scoring just two points and grabbing three rebounds in a 68-56 win over Oral Roberts on Dec. 22.
"I was just trying to find somebody that would get in there and help us get off to a good start," Heath said. "And I wanted to try Vincent. He's a great kid, and he's a guy that loves the Arkansas red."
It was Hunter's fifth start of the season, but the junior got into early foul trouble. He finished with five points, no rebounds, two blocks and four turnovers in 12 minutes.
Alabama point guard Ronald Steele didn't make a single shot against Arkansas, and he scored just one point -- 9.8 points below his season average.
The presesaon All-American attempted only two shots in the first half -- missing them both -- and he didn't score his first point until he sank a free throw three minutes and 41 seconds before halftime.
Steele, who attempted only three shots, hasn't been at full strength because of an injured right knee and a hurt left ankle.
"I know I didn't do anything offensively," Steele said.
Hendrix Dominates The Second Half
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