FAYETTEVILLE — Despite 17 first-half points from freshman BJ Young and four players scoring in double figures, the University of Arkansas men’s basketball team fell to Alabama, 79-68, Thursday night at Bud Walton Arena.
Arkansas drops to 17-11 on the season, with a 5-8 record in the Southeastern Conference. Alabama improves to 18-9 overall and 7-6 in the league.
"Alabama came in with a sense of urgency," said Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson. "Every game is a big game this time of year."
Arkansas led by 12 points early on, but a surge by the Crimson Tide at the end of the first half and beginning of the second half proved too much for the Razorbacks to overcome.
Young scored 17 points in the first half on 6-of-11 shooting, with four three-pointers. He poured in 11 in the first eight minutes of the game, with his basket from long range with 12:04 left in the half giving Arkansas a double-digit lead, 21-11.
The Razorbacks extended their first half lead to 12 points, 33-21, after a three-pointer by junior Julysses Nobles with 7:33 left in the half. Alabama battled back, however, taking the lead 40-39 with 1:35 left in the opening 209 minutes and ending the frame on a 10-2 run to head into halftime ahead of Arkansas 45-41.
Arkansas was unable to stop the Alabama run at the beginning of the second half. The Crimson Tide started the second half on an 11-2 run to take a 56-43 lead with 15:13 left in the game. Alabama continued to attack, leading by as many as 15 points, 60-45, with 13:54 remaining.
"Defensively we have to do a better job," Anderson said. "We made shots early, but then we had some bad turnovers."
The Razorbacks did have a run in store late in the game. Trailing, 65-50, with 11:03 left, the Razorbacks began to chip away at the lead with baskets from guards Young, Nobles, and sophomores Rickey Scott and Mardracus Wade., Freshman Hunter Mickelson also provided a spurt of energy on the inside. The Razorbacks outscored Alabama 16-6 in an eight minute span to get the Bud Walton Arena crowd on its feet and come within five points, 71-66, with 3:17 to play.
Arkansas had possession with a chance to cut the lead to three, but could not convert and Alabama scored the next six points on free throws to end the Razorback rally.
"We got it down to five with the basketball, but we just couldn’t get that next basket," Anderson said. "Every time we got in striking distance we had something happen."
Despite surrendering its lead late in the opening half, Arkansas shot 8-for-11 from three-point range in the first half, with four of those threes coming from Young. The freshman guard finished with 21 points on 7-for-12 shooting, and also dished out five assists.
Scott scored 12 points for Arkansas, and Wade and Nobles chipped in 11 apiece. Nobles was 2-for-3 from behind the arc and also had four rebounds and three assists. Freshman Devonta Abron scored seven points and grabbed 10 rebounds to lead Arkansas on the inside.
Alabama shot 55.1 percent for the game, and also placed four players in double figures. The Crimson Tide were led in scoring by Rodney Cooper with 17.
Arkansas has a quick turnaround, as it hits the road for a 3 p.m. contest at Auburn Saturday afternoon. For more information about Razorback basketball, please log on to ArkansasRazorbacks.com.
Download: Arkansas Game Notes – G28 – Alabama.pdf