The Alabama Crimson Tide basketball team (13-7, 5-2) survived a nail biter against the Arkansas Razorbacks (12-8, 3-4) in Coleman Coliseum on Thursday night. Like most Alabama wins this season; it wasn’t pretty, but the Crimson Tide got it done down the stretch to earn a vital victory. Alabama’s new motto in basketball should be: A win is a win.
Coming off of Saturday’s loss to Tennessee, this was a game Alabama absolutely had to have to keep any glimmer of hope alive in getting to the NCAA Tournament as an at-large team.
Once again, Alabama blew what was a comfortable first half win. They led by as many as 11 in the first half, and took a 7 point lead into the half, but the lead should have been more. Alabama shot better than 50% in the first half while the Hogs struggled from the floor to only shoot 36% in the half.
It was like watching a replay of the Tennessee game on Saturday as Arkansas came out and took the lead eight minutes into the second half. The teams exchanged the lead back and forth throughout the second half, and the game came down to the final minutes as usual when the Crimson Tide takes the court.
The difference in the game down the stretch was the free throw line. Alabama’s final nine points came from the charity stripe as they hit 9-of-10 to ice a 59-56 win. It didn’t come without some tense moments as Trevor Lacey came up with the hustle play of the game after a missed Andrew Steele three pointer. Leading by two, Steele had a wide open look at a three. Steele missed, but Lacey fought for the loose ball and corralled it to earn a trip to the free throw line.
Lacey hit one-of-two from the line to put Alabama up three. Then, BJ Young got a dunk but left only four seconds on the clock. After a foul, Levi Randolph hit two clutch free throws to give Alabama a three point lead and Young missed a three at the buzzer as the Crimson Tide hung on for the win.
Trevor Lacey was the leading scorer with 14 points, but he also turned it over 7 times as the Tide turned it over an absurd 19 times and it almost cost them the game. They had as many turnovers as field goals.
Offensive futility once again plagued Alabama in the second half, but Alabama worked hard on the boards as they ultimately out-rebounded Arkansas 34-27 and they grabbed 14 offensive rebounds.
Trevor Releford and Nick Jacobs were also in double figures with 12 and 10 points respectively. Alabama also got good minutes out of Moussa Gueye and Devonta Pollard. Gueye had 3 points, 7 rebounds and 4 blocks. Pollard played strong defense and scored 7 points with 7 rebounds.
Alabama has a quick turnaround with a game on Saturday at Memorial Gymnasium against Vanderbilt; a building where the Crimson Tide has traditionally struggled.