TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Courtney Fortson scored 18 points for the Arkansas Razorback men’s basketball team on Saturday afternoon, but its winning streak was ended at five games in Tuscaloosa, Ala., as the Razorbacks fell to the Alabama Crimson Tide, 73-68.
Arkansas (13-12, 6-4 SEC) was outscored in the second half for the first time in Southeastern Conference play this season after leading 38-29 at the break. Alabama (14-11, 4-7 SEC) defends its home court and splits the season series with the Razorbacks.
"Alabama played very well in the second half," Arkansas head coach John Pelphrey said. "We didn’t do some of the fundamental things. We are certainly disappointed. They did a good job in the second half of getting around Courtney and denying some things. They also made some good plays in the second half and hit 11 of 13 free throws."
After both teams opened the game appearing as though no one would miss a shot, defense began to take hold and the Razorbacks jumped out to a 13-6 lead at the first media timeout. Courtney Fortson buried a pair of three-point shots and Arkansas was able to take advantage in the interior to get their lead. Alabama responded with five of the next seven points to pull within four.
Arkansas used great shooting from the perimeter to increase its lead to 10 midway through the period. Fortson hit three and Rotnei Clarke, Stef Welsh and Jemal Farmer each hit one to give Arkansas 18 points from outside the arc through the seven-minute mark. The Razorbacks also forced five Alabama turnovers in that stretch and had six assists.
The Razorback defense was stifling throughout the first half as it forced 11 Alabama turnovers and held the Crimson Tide without a field goal for the final 9:58 of the opening 20 minutes. The Crimson Tide was able to get to the free throw line and convert, hitting 11 of 16 free throws as the first half ended with Arkansas leading 38-29.
As good as Arkansas’ defense as in the opening half, it could not prevent the Crimson Tide from keeping the game close. That proved to be a huge factor as the second half began as the Crimson Tide outscored Arkansas 21-9 through the first eight minutes of the period to take a 51-47 lead.
Arkansas fell behind by as many as five, but answered the challenge with five straight including Farmer’s second three-pointer of the game to tie the contest at 53. The Razorbacks would regain the lead, 65-64, after back-to-back buckets on the inside by Mike Washington and Marshawn Powell, but Alabama’s Anthony Brock buried a three-point basket to put the Crimson tide up 67-65, a lead they would not surrender.
The Razorbacks are back on the court on Wednesday night when they take on the South Carolina Gamecocks at Bud Walton Arena.