FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Marshawn Powell, Mike Washington and Courtney Fortson each recorded double-doubles to lead the Arkansas men’s basketball team to a 71-59 victory over the Alabama Crimson Tide in Southeastern Conference action on Saturday at Bud Walton Arena.
Arkansas (8-9, 1-1 SEC) picks up its first win in SEC play and defends home court after a tough loss on the road just 40 hours prior to the start of Saturday’s contest. Alabama (11-6, 1-2 SEC) came into the game with extra rest, but faded in the second half as Arkansas intensity picked up.
"We are fortunate to come out and get a win today," Arkansas head coach John Pelphrey said. "It means a lot to us to play well in front of our fans and I thought that they were tremendous. We had a great crowd tonight and they inspired us. Alabama is probably the best full court defense that we have faced this year and I thought that our guys stepped up."
The Razorbacks could not have asked for a better start to the game as they scored the contest’s first eight points. Powell hit for six early continuing his hot hand from just two nights ago and it appeared that the Razorbacks would roll over the Crimson Tide. Alabama came storming back however, scoring 11 of the next 13 points to take the lead and begin a see saw battle throughout the first half which included five tied scores and 11 lead changes.
Arkansas was plagued by turnovers in the first half as they gave the ball away eight times leading to seven Alabama points. Powell and shooting sensation Rotnei Clarke would end the opening 20 minutes with eight points each and Washington was a force defensively with three rebounds, a block and three charges taken.
Down by two at the half, Arkansas quickly tied the game at 34 on a Clarke layup. Down by two again just moments later, the Razorbacks scored the next six points to make it 40-36 and never trailed again.
A physical game on both ends of the floor, the Arkansas crowd went into a frenzy following a flagrant foul call on Alabama’s Senario Hillman. Away from the ball, Hillman’s elbow hit Clarke in the jaw prompting an immediate whistle from one of the officials. A short delay ensued as the referees looked at a replay and following the break ejected the Crimson Tide guard from the game. A 48-46 game, with 12:08 left at the time of the ejection, Arkansas would outscore Alabama 23-13 after the incident to secure the win.
The Razorbacks were a different team in the final 20 minutes of play as they held on to the ball and got 10 points each from Powell and Washington and another nine from Clarke. The biggest difference for Arkansas came on the boards as Arkansas’ previously mentioned big men combined for seven rebounds in the first half and grabbed 16 in the second for 23 total rebounds, four shy of Alabama’s total (27).
Powell ended the game with 18 points and 10 rebounds for the third double-double of his career and first since the second game of the season. Washington hit for 17 points in the game and grabbed a game and season-high 13 rebounds. Clarke also scored 17 points for the Razorbacks including four three-point baskets and Fortson’s double-double included 12 points and 10 assists.
Alabama was led by Mikhail Torrance who scored 15 points with JaMychal Green tallying 13 and Tony Mitchell, 12.
The Razorbacks are back on the court when they host Florida at Bud Walton Arena on Thursday, January 21 at 8 p.m. Thursday’s contest is a national broadcast on ESPN. For more information regarding Razorback men’s basketball or University of Arkansas athletics, please visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.