Arkansas 71, Alabama 59

Arkansas has three players - Marshawn Powell, Michael Washington and Courtney Fortson - record double-doubles and Rotnei Clarke adds 17 points as the Razorbacks down Alabama 71-59 Saturday afternoon before a season-high crowd of 13,332 at Bud Walton Arena.

While John Pelphrey's University of Arkansas team got a big 71-59 SEC win over visiting Alabama on Saturday, it was his good friend Anthony Grant that perhaps summed up the contest best afterwards.

"We knew coming in that they would be somewhat of a wounded animal mentality in terms of the way they would come out," Grant said. "I thought they came out from start to finish and played with a lot of energy and a lot of emotion.

"Over the course the game, I thought their toughness and their character really showed itself," Grant added. "We did not meet the challenge we needed to meet the challenge, individually and collectively.

"…"There were no surprises so it came down to whose will would be greater," Grant said. ""They had the greater will, the greater substance, the greater character."

Marshawn Powell (19 points, 10 rebounds), Michael Washington (17 points, 13 rebounds) and Courtney Fortson (12 points, 10 assists) all had double-doubles as Arkansas (8-9, 1-1) broke a four-game losing streak.

Rotnei Clarke added 17 points – knocking down 4 of his team's 5 3-pointers – as the Razorbacks played before a season-high crowd of 13,332 fans.

"We feel pretty fortunate to come out with a win, it was the opening day in the SEC for us at home," Pelphrey said. "It means a lot to play well in front of our fans. I thought our arena was typical Bud Walton – great crowd and certainly had an impact on the game. I think it was inspiring to us. We needed it."

Washington also took four charges – all which of course got his team the ball back.

"It is the greatest play in basketball," Pelphrey said. "You take the basketball from the other team and give it to yours. Mike is terrific at it. He makes the middle of our defense strong. I thought he had some other plays tonight where he stepped up and made it difficult when their guards were driving in there."

Clarke was also involved in one of the game's key plays.

With Arkansas leading just 47-46 with 12:08 left in the game, Alabama guard Senario Hillman belted Clarke with his elbow.

After looking at tape, the referees accessed Hillman a flagrant fouled, tossed him from the game and the Razorback proceeded to score 24 of the game's last 37 points.

"I thought it brought a lot of emotion to the game from a crowd standpoint," Grant said. "We didn't handle that very well. I don't want to pass judgment until I see I the play, but if it was a flagrant foul, we've got to be smarter than that. We have got to understand that there is no place for that in the game if that is indeed what happened.

"Obviously from there – give Arkansas credit," Grant added. "They turned it up and we didn't respond well. We didn't handle the increase in intensity and emotion that took place after that."

Pelphrey didn't sound like he thought the incident was a major factor.

"I didn't see the play and Rot made one free throw," Pelphrey said. "…To me, maybe it did, maybe it didn't…If that sparked the run, so be it. That particular play we got one point out of it and a bloody lip."

After getting whipped on the boards soundly in the first half of Thursday night's 82-80 loss at MississippI State, the Razorbacks have put together three standout rebounding halves.

That included taking it to Alabama 40-27 on caroms on Saturday.

"I think we got great play up front tonight from rebounding," Pelphrey said. "I don't know how many actual post-ups we got. We knew coming into this basketball game it was going to be very, very difficult to score if it wasn't for offensive rebounding or transition plays. Fortunately for us tonight, we were able to get some of those.

"To be able to understand that and get it done, that is what gave us a chance," Pelphrey said. "Mike and Marshawn were tremendous rebounding the basketball."

Powell and Fortson had 5 offensive rebounds so they combined for 10 of their team's 12.

The Razorbacks outscored the Crimson Tide 40-34 in the paint.

"I thought they dominated on the interior," Grant said. "When you look at two double-doubles by their frontcourt. From an offensive rebounding, they had 10 offensive rebounds (between the two) and 12 for the game. I thought the second half it looked like 20 the way they were rebounding the basketball. Their guys really stepped up today and led their team.

"They really imposed their will on us in the interior," Grant continued.

Mikhail Torrance had 15 points, JaMychal Green 13 points and 8 rebounds and Tony Mitchell 12 for Alabama, who had won four straight before stumbling in its last two conference games.

Alabama had not allowed a team to shoot over 40 percent in its last four games and had helped foes to an average of 57 over that span.

Arkansas shot 46.9 percent from the floor, hit 10 of its 12 free throws and matched Alabama's five 3-pointers.

Perhaps most important the Razorbacks forced 15 turnovers and had 13 – despite the Crimson Tide being the team that pressed more during the contest.

"We've played some very good defensive teams this year, especially in the half court," Pelphrey said. "Alabama is probably the best in the full court."

Fortson had a whopping 7 of his team's 13 miscues, but he pushed the tempo and obviously had the 12 points, 10 assists, 3 rebounds and 2 steals on the plus side of the ledger.

"Fortson, I thought he did a great job of doing what he does in terms of getting in the lane and getting others opportunities," Grant said. "Clarke was also exceptional – 4-for-8 from the free throw line, 50 percent – just like he has done all year."

Junior guard Marcus Britt started in place of junior forward Jemal Farmer and contributed 3 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists and just 1 steal in the contest.

He also made several things happen on both offensively – better spacing – and defensively that didn't show up in the box score.

"Marcus did some really good things at Mississippi State the other night, both with defense and made a couple of baskets and I think tonight he did the same thing," Pelphrey said. "He worked, worked, worked."

The five starters all played at least 31 minutes, but the Razorbacks also got key minutes from all six of its reserves.

"We have tried to make a conscious effort at developing our bench with Marcus, Stef (Welsh), Julysess and (Stephen) Cox and Glenn Bryant and Delvon (Johnson) and we are going to continue to use those guys and those guys need to continue to grow.

…We need to use those guys, use our bench to create some fatigue situations," Pelphrey added later. "The other night Mississippi State didn't shoot great from the free throw line and kept giving us a chance and tonight we were fortunate in that in the second half Alabama didn't make a lot of 3-point shots – maybe that's us being able to apply a little pressure and fatigue them a little bit. That is what we want to do."

Arkansas is now off until Thursday when it will host Florida in a 8 p.m. game on ESPN.

The Razorbacks next practice will be on Monday after an NCAA mandated day off on Sunday.

It will be the first time they will have practice after a win in 25 days.

"It is good to have a day off after having positive results," Pelphrey said.


Hawgs Daily Top Stories