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OPINION | WALLY HALL: Razorbacks remain a tough out in the SEC

by Wally Hall | February 13, 2022 at 3:02 a.m.

On a day when their shots weren't falling, they were outscored on defensive points and foul trouble was their enemy, the Arkansas Razorbacks almost pulled off the win. But in the end, they missed their only shot in the final 27 seconds and fell to Alabama 68-67 on Saturday.

Arkansas missed layups, dunks, shots from point-blank, midrange and, of course, three-point shots.

A lot of the credit for that should go to Alabama's defense which shifted from a man-to-man to various zones often.

Arkansas made 22 of 70 from the field (31.4%) and even missed seven free throws, going 17 of 24.

The Tide's reputation is to live and die by the three. But against the Razorbacks, it was defense and unselfish teamwork that gave them the edge.

Not one Crimson Tide player had more than a single three-pointer as they made just 7 of 29, while Arkansas was a dismal 6 of 21. Stanley Umude did make 3 of 7 for the Hogs.

Normally when the Razorbacks force 24 turnovers, they win.

Against the Tide they got 22 points from turnovers, but Alabama cashed in for 28 points off Arkansas' 16 turnovers.

Granted the Razorbacks had key players in foul trouble. Umude, who had 19 points, fouled out.

JD Notate, the leading scorer in the SEC, sat out most of the first half with two fouls and never got in the flow of the game in the second half, hitting just 4 of 11 shots and scoring 12 points.

Coming down the stretch, though, they just missed a win.

In horse racing, it would have been a loss by a nose.

Arkansas trailed 60-47 with 9:20 to play but went on a 11-0 run and pulled within 61-60 with 4:28 to play.

In that run, Jaylin Williams was like a super hero, scoring eight of the points. He started with a pair of free throws, made a three-point play and then hit a three.

The sophomore from Fort Smith led all scorers with 22 points and he had 10 rebounds and took 2 charges, bringing his season total to a bone-rattling 37.

Bama scored but Umude grabbed an offensive rebound and stuck it back to keep it at a one-point deficit.

After the Tide got 1 of 2 free throws, Notae hit a three and with 2:37 it looked like Arkansas was going to pull off a miracle road win.

Bama scored again and with 48 seconds to play Notae regained the lead on two free throws.

The Tide went up 68-67 with 27 seconds to play and Arkansas put the ball in its best scorer's hands.

Notae dribbled 11 times looking for the right shot, but the Tide were on him like cold in Alaska and forced him into a corner where he launched an ill-advised shot with less than five seconds to play.

He missed. Alabama did turn it over, but a half-court desperation shot by Davonte Davis was short.

Arkansas' nine-game win streak ended in Tuscaloosa, but not without leaving an impression.

The Razorbacks could have spit on the fire and folded their tents down 13, but instead they turned up their defense and got in the Tide's faces.

On a day when they would have had trouble throwing a ball in the ocean at high tide, they scratched and clawed their way back into the game.

It wasn't pretty, but it wasn't supposed to be.

This is not a finesse team but one that is build on the core values of reaping what you sew and that blue-collar basketball is going to win its share of the battles.

Bama was 6 of 16 on threes in the first half, but just 1-13 in the second.

The game didn't hurt the Razorbacks NCAA seeding either. Alabama is No. 22 in the NCAA Net rankings.

The Razorbacks have six games and left and not one of those opponents is going to feel good about playing the Hogs after reviewing Saturday's game.

Print Headline: Razorbacks remain a tough out in the SEC


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