College basketball was rocked last week for the second time in the last few months with the FBI investigation into bribery and untaxed dollars changing hands among agents, shoe companies, and players or their family.
Freshman Collin Sexton, Alabama's starting point guard, was one of the more than 20 players named by Yahoo Sports last week to have received improper benefits. While some players allegedly received thousands and thousands of dollars, Sexton was accused of allowing someone to buy him a meal.
It probably wasn't a happy meal, but it was just some food. When Alabama found out about it early in the season, the Tide sat him out and his parents paid for the meal.
This is a serious inquiry, as it already cost Louisville head coach Rick Pitino his job and it looks like Arizona's Sean Miller will be next as reports of an FBI wiretap had him telling an agent to pay a player $100,000.
Players who took any serious money should be sitting out until this is cleared up, but Alabama considered the seriousness of the claim against Sexton and started him against the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.
It was the right thing to do.
It was not a message of "win at any cost" because it was a meal, not a Mercedes.
So Sexton played Saturday, scoring 15 points and making six assists, but down the stretch the Razorbacks finally established themselves as the better team and came away with a huge 76-73 road win.
This keeps the Razorbacks in the hunt for third or fourth place in the SEC, which means a double bye in the SEC Tournament and not playing your first game until Friday.
While it was surprising Alabama fell in love with the three-pointer -- firing 26 with only 22 shots inside the arc -- Arkansas had some heroics that enabled it to get back on the winning track after losing to Kentucky at home Tuesday.
C.J. Jones, a native of Birmingham, Ala., who wasn't recruited by Alabama, came off the bench to burn the Tide for 13 points.
When Alabama took a 57-56 lead with 6:53 to play, Jaylen Barford hit a three. A little more than a minute later, Daryl Macon hit his only three of the game and Arkansas would not trail again.
The best freshman on the floor might have been Arkansas center Daniel Gafford, who had 11 points and seven rebounds but his rebound dunk with 3:21 to play gave the Hogs a 67-59 lead.
Alabama, which lost its third game in a row for the first time this season, fired back and had a chance late but the Razorbacks made enough free throws to get the win.
The Razorbacks threatened to blow the game open a couple of times in the first half, but after taking a 16-7 lead they went almost five minutes without scoring because they were finding ways to turn it over rather than score. In a five-minute span, they lost the ball four times.
The Hogs led 35-25 with 1:54 to play in the first half only to go flat on their perimeter defense, allowing the Tide to hit back-to-back threes to cut it to 35-31 at intermission.
Arkansas shot the bell well in the first half, but 10 turnovers hurt the Hogs. Still, they won for the 37th consecutive time after leading at the half.
The Razorbacks' win drops Bama out of the six-team logjam for third place. Now Arkansas can turn its full attention to the final two games -- Auburn at home on Tuesday and a chance for a sweep of Missouri with a win in Columbia on Saturday.
Sports on 02/25/2018
Print Headline: Bama did right by Sexton; UA rolls anyway