FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Senior Mike Washington scored 18 points and grabbed a team high seven rebounds, but it was his energy and play on the defensive end of the floor that sparked a second half Arkansas comeback, only to see the Razorbacks fall to Alabama Birmingham at Bud Walton Arena on Saturday afternoon, 73-72.
Arkansas (7-7) was behind by as many as six midway through the second half, but came back with great effort to close the gap and eventually give them an opportunity to win. Alabama Birmingham (12-2) returns to the winning side of the ledger after losing a 73-72 game to Virginia on Wednesday night.
"I thought that we fought hard on both sides of the floor," Arkansas head coach John Pelphrey said. "They just won the last play. We had an opportunity with the ball and got a good look at it, but couldn’t put it down. They executed [the last play] better than we defended."
Up by a point with one minute to play, Arkansas would gain control of the ball after a missed shot with 43.9 left on the clock. Using multiple screens and even getting some contact from the defense on the final pass, the Razorbacks had a chance to go up by three or four but the shot was off the mark and UAB grabbed the rebound. Rushing up the floor, the Blazers did not have much composure until head coach Mike Davis called a timeout with 2.2 seconds on the clock.
Spreading the floor, UAB was able to run screens and get a final shot off with one second left to give it the lead and the game.
"They got a good screen on Mike," Pelphrey said, leading to the game-winning basket.
"I think that Arkansas has gotten better as a team," UAB coach Mike Davis said. "They fought hard the entire game and are playing harder for longer stretches. There isn’t a big difference between a lot of teams. Arkansas won’t play a tougher stretch of games than they are going through now [Baylor, UAB, Texas] for the rest of the season. It might be as tough, but nothing tougher."
Down by eight at the break, Arkansas came out in the second half and score the first seven points to make it a one-point game with 18:22 to play. The Blazers would get out in front of the Hogs again, this time by six, but an undaunted Arkansas squad continued to play tough defense and hit timely shots. The Razorbacks would regain the lead in the contest with 10:49 to play on a Washington layup and following the basket both teams would trade the lead or tie the game.
The game of runs would continue down the stretch until the final play of the game.
The Razorbacks got off to a good start, jumping out on the Blazers, but a strong defensive performance over the final 10 minutes of the first half turned the tide on Arkansas. The Razorbacks were without a field goal over the opening four minutes, but seven free throws by Washington and Rotnei Clarke gave the Hogs a 7-4 lead. The Arkansas lead would grow to as many as nine in the early going before the first of two UAB runs. The Hogs would withstand the first which closed the Arkansas lead to five by going on a 10-4 run of its own to build its lead to 11.
The final eight minutes of the first half belonged to the Blazers who outscored Arkansas 25-6 to take a 39-31 halftime lead. Arkansas could manage just three baskets during the spurt and were careless with the ball as UAB picked up its defensive pressure all over the court.
Marshawn Powell was a key factor for the Razorbacks in their second-half run and would end the game with a team high 22 points, the second 20-point effort of his young career. Washington contributed 18 points and Clarke scored 16 including three three-point baskets for the Razorbacks.
The Razorbacks are back on the court on Tuesday night when they take on the No. 2 Texas Longhorns at Bud Walton Arena beginning at 7 p.m. For more information regarding Razorback men’s basketball or University of Arkansas athletics, please visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.