Alabama withstands Hogs’ charges to beat Arkansas, improving to 4-0 in SEC

Largely bottled up by Arkansas’ top-10 protection in the primary half Wednesday evening in Fayetteville, Alabama’s pair of NBA-bound freshmen stole the present in the second half.

Brandon Miller and Noah Clowney mixed for 26 of the Tide’s first 41 second-half factors in an 84-69 win over the Razorbacks, developing huge in key moments to rating Alabama’s most consequential SEC win this season.

“Tough street win,” coach Nate Oats stated. “Our guys confirmed that they have some toughness, some character, some grit. They can deal with some runs and nonetheless keep in there.”

The No. 4-ranked Tide withstood a 9-0 run by No. 15-ranked Arkansas in the primary half and one other 7-0 run by the Hogs in the second half, ending the Hogs’ late cost by flattening a string of three pointers. With Arkansas having minimize Alabama’s lead to two factors and fewer than 5 minutes remaining, Clowney hit a triple and Miller adopted with two extra to rebuild an 11-point lead and silence the Bud Walton Arena crowd.

“Clowney’s not afraid of a lot, and neither is Brandon,” Oats stated. “Those three threes between the 2 of these guys there, after we’re making that run, is large.”

Alabama improved to 14-2 with the win and 4-0 in the SEC, matching its 2020-21 begin as its greatest in SEC play for the reason that 1986-87 season.

After beating No. 21-ranked Mississippi State on the street and blowing out two unranked opponents, Ole Miss and Kentucky, in Coleman Coliseum, the Tide’s midweek journey to Fayetteville marked its largest problem in convention play to date this season.

“Couldn’t be extra happy with our guys,” Oats stated. “Continue to get higher each sport. We simply received to preserve getting a bit of bit higher each sport. Staying in this hunt for the SEC championship.”

Arkansas didn’t enable Miller to try a shot in the primary half whereas Clowney had solely three factors earlier than halftime whereas restricted by three fouls. But Clowney made his presence felt with 9 factors in a span of lower than 4 minutes early in the second half to end with 15 factors, and Miller added 14 after his scoreless first half.

The win was Alabama’s third over an Associated Press-ranked opponent on the street this season, coming after victories at No. 1-ranked in Houston and in Starkville. Alabama was 1-8 towards top-25 opponents in Oats’ first three seasons. The win in Fayetteville was Alabama’s first since 2012, snapping a five-game shedding streak in the venue.

“After we beat Houston at Houston, I feel our guys had some confidence they might win anyplace,” Oats stated. “We’ve been good in powerful video games. I feel Houston is without doubt one of the hardest groups in the nation. I believed the loss to UConn actually sort of confirmed our guys that in the event you’re not powerful, such as you’re not gonna give you the chance to win these huge video games. I believed our schedule in the non-conference actually ready us for this sport.”

Despite Miller and Clowney’s mixed three factors in the primary half, Alabama led for a 12-minute stretch by as many as seven factors. Arkansas’ run tied the rating at halftime, 33-33, earlier than Alabama opened a 12-point lead halfway by the second half, 62-50. Miller tried the primary two pictures of the second half.

“We had to get him some shot makes an attempt,” Oats stated. “He’s good not to have something in half.”

Alabama then went chilly and Arkansas narrowed the rating to 65-63 with 4:45 remaining. Oats referred to as a timeout and the Tide’s subsequent three pictures had been the three-pointers made by Clowney and Miller. Alabama scored 19 of the sport’s closing 25 factors after Oats’ timeout, with Arkansas not threatening as soon as the lead returned to double digits.

Asked concerning the message throughout his timeout, Oats deadpanned, “Just come out and hit about three straight threes and open this factor up,” then laughed.

“I simply instructed them, look, it is a sport of runs,” he stated. “They minimize it. We’ve received to get again to getting stops, deal with the ball on offense. Settle them down a bit of bit. They did. They got here out. We received stops. We hit some huge pictures.”

With Miller stifled in the primary half, guard Mark Sears scored a team-high 12 factors in the primary half for Alabama and added 10 extra in the second half, together with 2-of-3 three-point taking pictures. He completed with a team-high 26 factors, his most since becoming a member of Alabama from Ohio University final offseason.

“I imply, we wanted anyone to rating,” Oats stated. “He at all times comes prepared to play. I feel his protection has gotten a lot, significantly better right here lately. But offensively — we wanted anyone to rating the ball, and he was scoring for us. They sort of sagged some guys and did not play some guys that had been respectable that weren’t taking pictures nicely. But Sears could make pictures. We want him to shoot it. He received downhill and scored the ball and received fouled.”

Sears additionally shot 10-of-10 on free throws whereas his teammates went 15-of-26 on an uneven evening from the road. Clowney made solely two of his 5, and Jaden Bradley joined Noah Gurley in going 0-for-2.

Arkansas (12-4) fell to 1-3 in the SEC with the loss after being picked to end second in the preseason media ballot. The two groups will meet once more on Feb. 25 in Tuscaloosa, seemingly after the return from damage of Arkansas freshman Nick Smith, the top-ranked highschool recruit in 2022.

“They did not play as powerful as a non-conference schedule,” Oats stated of Arkansas. “Shoot, I feel they had been 1-3 final yr. They’re 1-3 once more. They ended up 13-5 final yr. They’ll get it found out. Sometimes I feel they’ve to play just a few powerful video games in convention earlier than they determine themselves out. But primarily based on what they’ve finished right here in the previous, I’m positive they’re going to get it found out.”

Alabama hosts unranked LSU on Saturday at 3 pm CT. The Tigers (12-4) have additionally began 1-3 in convention play after important roster turnover and a training change, from Will Wade to Matt McMahon, earlier this yr.

Mike Rodak is an Alabama beat reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @mikerodak.

Leave a Comment