FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Arkansas head coach Nolan Richardson went with a starting lineup averaging a combined 16.2 points a game for Wednesday’s game against No. 5 Alabama, but that unit set the tone defensively and the Razorbacks pulled off a 67-59 victory.
The win snaps UA’s three-game losing streak and improves the Hogs to 13-12 overall and 5-8 in the Southeastern Conference. Alabama falls to 22-5 and 10-3. The win also avenges a 109-94 loss in Tuscaloosa on Jan. 30.
Richardson started guards Charles Tatum (3.0 ppg) and T.J. Cleveland (4.1), and forwards Carl Baker (2.8), Alonzo Lane (3.4) and Larry Satchell (2.9), his 14th different combination of the season.
With Arkansas’ top six scorers on the bench, the starting unit held Alabama to 12.1 percent shooting in the first half (4-33). Tatum matched the combined average of the starters with 16 first-half points and finished with a game-high 20 on six of 11 shooting, including four of eight three-pointers.
His trey from the top of the key gave the Razorbacks a 25-10 lead at the 6:30 mark of the first half. Another trey two minutes later stretched the lead to 28-12.
Alabama closed within 33-19 at the half and made a run in the second half, getting the deficit under 10 at 52-44 on two Earnest Shelton free throws with 7:58 remaining.
Rod Grizzard made two free throws to cut the margin to 57-53, but Lane made two free throws and J.J. Sullinger one to push the lead to 60-53 with 1:17 to go.
Shelton, who led Alabama with 18 points, hit a three with 38 seconds left and another with 28 seconds left to cut the gap to 64-59, but Cleveland made a free throw and Baker two for the final margin.
Arkansas shot just 38.5 percent for the game (20-52), but the Razorbacks held Alabama to 25 percent (16-64). The Razorbacks also got to the free throw line 33 times, which ties for the second-highest total of the season, and made 21 shots, which also ties for the second-best game total of the year. Baker was five of six, Tatum four of four and Sullinger four of six.
Tatum was the only Hog in double figures, and UA’s top two scorers, Jannero Pargo and Brandon Dean, combined for just three points on a three-pointer by Pargo, but Cleveland (9), Baker (8), Lane (8), Matt Jones (8) and Lane (6) were all above their season averages.
Maurice Williams had 17 points for Alabama and Erwin Dudley 10 points and 11 rebounds.
Arkansas travels to No. 12 Kentucky for an 11 a.m. (central) came on Saturday, which is being televised by CBS Sports.