The SEC has been an absolute roller coaster all season long. Upsets have been happening night in and night out since the first tip in November. But as we get closer to March, things are starting to even out. That was not the case tonight, though, as Arkansas defeats Alabama in dominant fashion at home tonight.
Arkansas Defeats Alabama in Dominant Fashion
The #20 Razorbacks (17-5) entered the game tonight on a seven-game win streak in SEC play, but that did not deter the #6 Crimson Tide (18-5) in their gameplan. The Tide have easily been one of the best teams in the SEC this season, and they intended to put the heat on the Hogs tonight as they did earlier in league play when they won 90-59.
However, that did not happen as the Hogs played strong, physical basketball for all 40 minutes and came away with the win. The Tide was uncharacteristically cold from beyond the arc to start the game, going 1-8 from three-point land. This allowed for guys like Moses Moody and Devonte Davis to get hot and bring the Hogs to a 10-point lead in the first half.
Tide Start to Heat Up, But Hogs Foil Plans
Shortly after the Hogs started rolling, it was the Tide’s turn. John Petty hit a pair of well-defended shots, and Jordan Bruner finished the first half with four made threes, which cut the Hogs lead to one at the break.
Coming out of the halftime break, Alabama went on a 7-0 run to take a six-point lead early in the second half before the Hogs got settled. The play of freshman Jaylin Williams early in the second half brought the game out of reach for the Tide. He finished the night with 13 points and 8 rebounds and shot 50% for the game.
Free Throw Struggles for the Hogs
The game was fairly well in hand for the Hogs late in the second half, but the biggest problem was on the free-throw line. The Razorbacks shot a putrid 62.8% from the free-throw line, which is why the game stayed as close as it did. Had they made the shots given to them, this would have been a 20-point blowout for the Hogs.
Fouls did play a large part in the game, and if we’re honest, it really disrupted the flow of the game and made it slow and boring for all parties involved. The Hogs shot 43 free throws in all, compared to just eight for the Tide.
A large part of that free-throw discrepancy could be attributed to the Tide’s lack of penetration in the lane, as just under half of the shots that the Tide shot were from beyond the arc. When teams aren’t driving into the lane, fouls are less likely to get called, and as a result, you end up at the free-throw line less than your opponent.
Late Game Theatrics
The game started to get snippy towards the end, resulting in two different ejections for the two teams. Alabama guard John Petty, who ended the day with 12 points on 50% shooting, was assessed a technical foul around the five-minute mark of the second half after complaining to the refs about a no-call. Not long after that, he argued a call again and was ejected from the game.
To get to the visitor’s locker room in Bud Walton Arena, he had to walk right by the Razorbacks bench, and on his way out, he started jawing with Arkansas head coach Eric Musselman, who held his ground. Before you could even blink, the refs had also ejected Arkansas guard Jalen Tate, who has been a solid force for the Razorbacks this season. He finished the night with 12 points to go along with four rebounds and four assists.
Arkansas Defeats Alabama
It was a fun night for Hog fans, as Arkansas defeats Alabama in dominant fashion to cap off a historic season for the Razorbacks. The last time there was a Top 20 matchup at Bud Walton Arena was 1998, and this game was worth the wait. While the Razorbacks led for most of the night, the scoring prowess of Nate Oats’ Crimson Tide team left fans on the edge of their seat, as they can score and score in a hurry.
For the Hogs, they will face LSU at home on Saturday night. The last meeting with LSU ended with the Tigers winning by almost 20 points. The Hogs will look to do exactly what they did against Alabama, which is to dismantle them with stiff defense and unselfish passing. That game will air on ESPN2, with tipoff right after 1 PM.
For the Tide, they will look to bounce back on the road against Mississippi State. The Bulldogs are sitting right above .500 on the season and will surely give Alabama all they can handle. That game will air on the SEC Network, with tipoff coming at 5 PM.
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