FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Sophomore Rotnei Clarke led the Arkansas men’s basketball team with 19 points, but 20 turnovers doomed the Razorbacks against South Alabama at Bud Walton Arena on Sunday afternoon, 74-61.
The Razorbacks fall to 2-4 on the year with the loss while a solid South Alabama team improved to 6-2.
"I thought that we came out tentative and it took us a second to find our way," Arkansas head coach John Pelphrey said. "We had some lineup changes, but we dug our heels in and got some turnovers. I thought that we showed tremendous heart and spirit throughout the game."
The Razorbacks fell behind early in the contest as every shot they took seemed to go in and out of the basket. Over the opening four minutes Arkansas found itself in a 9-2 hole and was 0-3 from the floor. Arkansas’ shooting woes continued well into the first 20 minutes of play as it saw South Alabama jump out to a 15-2 lead. The Razorbacks failed to score a basket for the first seven-plus minutes of action until Julysses Nobles buried an open three-point shot at 12:42.
The middle portion of the half saw both teams trade baskets, but following a pair of free throws by Clarke at 9:19, the Razorbacks went on a 28-6 run to not just tie the game, but take their first lead. With 3:42 left in the period, Michael Sanchez found Glenn Bryant on a nifty little dump pass which tied the game at 28 completing a comeback that saw the Razorbacks fall behind by as many as 16. A Clarke free throw at 3:31 following a steal and subsequent foul gave the Hogs their first lead of the contest at 29-28 and moments later a Clarke three-pointer put the Razorbacks up by four. The teams went into the break with Arkansas holding a 34-30 lead.
The scoring woes that Arkansas experienced in the beginning of the game surfaced again as the start of the second half. The Jaguars quickly erased a four-point deficit and took the lead on a 10-3 run. Bryant tied the game at 40 on a three-pointer from the right side, but that would be the last basket Arkansas would score for the next five minutes as South Alabama built a game-high 17-point lead with 10:18 to play. Arkansas would work its way back to 11 points late but could not get any closer down the stretch.
The Razorbacks got good news and bad news prior to Sunday’s contest. Sanchez suiting up for the first time this season gave the Razorbacks some much needed depth in the front court and was the good news. The redshirt sophomore had missed the first five games to plantar fasciitis in both feet but returned to practice on Saturday and made his way onto the court for 16 minutes on Sunday. The bad news for the Razorbacks was the loss of Mike Washington who injured his back during shoot around Sunday morning and was unavailable for the game.
Clarke was one of two Razorbacks to score in double figures on Sunday with his 19 points. Junior Jemal Farmer added 12 to join him in double figures. Bryant, a true freshman was one of four players to grab six rebounds in the game.
Arkansas returns to the floor for its first true road game on Wednesday night, Dec. 2, at Oklahoma. For more information regarding Razorback men’s basketball or University of Arkansas athletics, please visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.