GAME NOTES: The Arkansas Razorbacks will attempt to keep their hot streak alive on Saturday afternoon as the SEC regular season comes to a close at Coleman Coliseum in a matchup with the Alabama Crimson Tide.
Arkansas has picked the perfect time to start playing its best basketball of the season, as it has worked its way into the NCAA Tournament conversation thanks to six straight wins. The Razorbacks improved to 21-9 overall and 10-7 in the league on Wednesday night following a record-setting performance in a 110-80 victory over Ole Miss.
Alabama, meanwhile, has struggled all season long at just 12-18 and 6-10 in league play, most recently dropping a low-scoring affair at nationally-ranked Kentucky on Tuesday, 55-48. The silver lining for the Tide is that each of their wins this season has come in Tuscaloosa, going 12-4 at Coleman Coliseum.
In the first meeting this season back on Feb. 5, Arkansas beat Alabama in Fayetteville, 65-58, to improve its standing in the all-time series to 29-27.
The Razorbacks tied an SEC record with 17 3-pointers in their drudging of Ole Miss earlier in the week, and their 110 points was the most points they have ever scored at Bud Walton Arena. They shot 48.1 percent overall in the high- scoring affair, missed just one of their 20 free-throw attempts and won the turnover battle by a dominating 18-6 margin. Pacing five players in double figures was Anthlon Bell, who shot 7-of-10 from 3-point range for 23 points off the bench. Mardracus Wade scored 18 points on 5-of-7 from deep, Rashad Madden tallied 14 points and seven assists, while Coty Clarke and Alandise Harris netted 13 points apiece.
On the season, Arkansas has the SEC's top-ranked scoring offense, pouring in 81.4 ppg on strong percentages from the field (.448), 3-point range (.371) and the free-throw line (.722). The squad is also aided by an outstanding +5.8 turnover margin, which is fourth best in the country. Madden (12.5 ppg), Bobby Portis (12.3 ppg, 6.6 rpg) and Michael Qualls (12.1 ppg) are all neck-and-neck for the scoring lead. Clarke (9.6 ppg, 5.8 rpg) and Harris (9.0 ppg) are stellar as well, while seven other net at least 2.9 ppg to add to contribute to the deep bench.
The Tide held their own with Kentucky in their most recent bout and even held a lead early in the second half, but they quickly lost control following a 15-2 UK run and eventually fell on the wrong end of the seven-point final. Although they played great defense, holding the Wildcats to only 32.7 percent field-goal shooting, they only made 38 percent of their tries from the floor while losing the rebounding battle, 41-27. Trevor Releford was the lone player to finish in double figures in the setback with 13 points.
Alabama has established a similar theme this season by spoiling a solid scoring defense (67.5 ppg) with a lackluster offensive attack (67.7 ppg). Despite his team's disappointing campaign, Releford has emerged as one of the SEC's top playmakers, as he scores 18.6 ppg on great percentages from the field (.503), 3-point range (.395) and the free-throw line (.858) while adding 3.1 apg and 2.2 rpg as well. Retin Obasohan (9.7 ppg) is a strong defender with 1.9 spg and 1.0 bpg, while Levi Randolph (9.5 ppg), Shannon Hale (8.4 ppg), Nick Jacobs (8.4 ppg) and Rodney Cooper (7.6 ppg) have all been solid.
Despite Alabama's stellar home record and Arkansas' struggles on the road (3-5), the Razorbacks have been playing so well of late that they should have the upper hand at knocking off a Tide squad that lacks explosion.
Game Date and Time