The 4th ranked Alabama Crimson Tide ran the 15th ranked Arkansas Razorbacks out of a full and loud Bud Walton Arena on Wednesday night by a scored of 84-69. The Tide is now 14-2 overall and 4-0 in the SEC, while the homestanding Hogs fell to 12-4 and 1-3 in the league.
The game was a slugfest for much of the contest before the Tide pulled away at the end. This was Bama’s first win in Fayetteville since 2012, and only second since 2005. The win in Bud Walton was just its third win over Arkansas in the last 10 meetings versus the Hogs. Alabama improves to a perfect 4-0 in true road games this year.
Coach Nate Oats sent out his standard starting lineup of Charles Bediako, Noah Clowney, Brandon Miller, Jaden Bradley, and Mark Sears. Clowney hit a three to open the scoring for the Tide, but the points were hard to come by over the next few minutes. With 14:49 left Noah Gurley hit two free throws to tie the game at 7-7.
The play was chippy throughout the game, and with 14:12 left Jahvon Quinerly got tangled up with a Razorback player and some pushing and shoving led to offsetting technical fouls. Quinerly and his Jersey swagger have drawn a T in the last two games. Quinerly hit the two free throws for the shooting foul and the Tide led 11-7. Even without Miller scoring the Tide maintained the lead until Arkansas took at 29-28 lead with 1:43 left. Dom Welch finally made his first basket of the season right before the half time buzzer to tie the game at 33 apiece. The SEC’s leading scorer, Miller, did not get a shot off in the first stanza.
At the half the Tide was shooting 39% on 10-26 from the field including 2-10 from deep, and made only 11-19 free throws. Bama had 19 rebounds, three assists, and six turnovers. Sears had 12 points to lead the team. Arkansas shot 11-28 for 39%, 0-3 from deep, and made 11-18 free throws. The Hogs had 21 rebounds, five assists, and seven turnovers. Jalen Graham led the Razorbacks with eight points.
The same starters came out for the second half. The Tide called a quick play for Miller who drove and scored his first points to put Bama up 35-33. Thereafter Bama never trailed. Sears hit a three at the 18:46 mark for a 38-33 lead. Bediako drew his fourth foul with 17:37 remaining and the Tide had to count on the Noah’s, Clowney and Gurley, and Nick Pringle on the inside.
Miller started reaching the free throw line to keep the Tide in the lead. The Hogs did tie things at 46-46 when Gurley hit a three pointer. Clowney and Sears hit three’s of their own and the Tide was out to a 62-50 lead with 9:11 left and looked to be on cruise control. However Clowney drew his 4th foul and Arky mounted a comeback to cut the lead to 65-61 with 6:32 left. The Tide was getting a little rattled and had several missed layups and turnovers. With a 13-5 run the home team closed within two at 65-63. Oats called a crucial timeout at that point.
The Tide’s two freshmen superstars made their presence felt immediately after. Clowney hit a three from the corner and Miller drove the nail with two straight from long range. All of sudden the lead was 74-63 with 3:42 left in the game. From there Bediako took over in the middle with a couple of nice hoops and Sears was money from the free throw line, finishing 10-10, and Bama had the blow out win, 84-69.
In the second half the Tide shot 15-28 for 54%, 7-10 from deep (!), and made 14-17 free throws. Overall the team finished 25-54 for 46%, 9-20 for 45% from three, and 25-36 for a nice 69% from the charity stripe. With a late push Bama finished with 37 rebounds, 11 assists, eight steals, five blocks, and 13 turnovers. Sears had 26 points in 38 minutes, shooting 7-16 overall and 2-4 from deep to go with his 10 free throws. Sears added three assists and three steals. Clowney finished with 15 on 5-6 shooting- 3-4 from deep- with five rebounds, two assists, a steal, and a block. After having a goose egg in the first half Miller finished with an efficient 14 points on 3-4 shooting, 2-2 from three, and 6-7 from the line, adding four rebounds, two assists, and two blocks. Bediako had eight points and six rebounds, Gurley tied for the rebound lead with six and had three points. Clowney and Miller scored 26 of their combined 29 points in the second half.
Arkansas shot 15-33 in the second for 46%, 2-7 from three, and 4-5 from the line. Overall the Hogs finished 26-61 for 43%, 2-10 from three, and 15-23 from the line for 65%. Arky had 37 rebounds, nine assists, six steals, four blocks, and 15 turnovers. Davonte Davis led the Hogs with 16 points and 10 rebounds, and did a great job on defense denying Miller the ball.
The Tide scored 24 points off of Arkansas turnovers while the Hogs scored only seven off of Bama mishaps. The Tide also led in fast break points 24-4. After the game Oats said, “that was a fun game, fun to win on the road.” The coach added “we handled their runs and were able to get some of our own.”
Folks this Alabama team is for real. Two road wins over top 25 teams in conference already this season, not to mention the pre-conference W’s against an extremely tough schedule. The Tide has so many weapons that can hurt you and they play a tough, hard-nosed brand of basketball. The season is flying by, so grab any chance you get to see these guys play!
Next up a home game at the already sold out Coleman Coliseum on Saturday at 3 p.m. C.T. that will be shown on ESPN/ESPNU. Road trips to two other gyms Alabama has historically struggled in follow: the woeful Vanderbilt Commodores, and a dangerous Missouri team. [Ed. Note: I was informed this morning that all weekend home games are completely sold out. There are select tickets available for Wednesday contests, and you may be able to grab the occasional spare or pair on the weekends, but otherwise, it’s the secondary market or bust.]
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