Bama beats Arkansas, big SEC road win for Tide

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The Alabama men's basketball team (18-9, 7-6 SEC) defeated Arkansas on the road Thursday night by a score of 79-68 in Bud Walton Arena. Freshman Rodney Cooper led a balanced Alabama scoring attack with 17 points off the bench.

Also chipping in double-digit scoring off the bench was freshman Nick Jacobs, who contributed 14 points. Junior Andrew Steele added 15 points, hitting 8 of 10 from the free throw line, while sophomore Trevor Releford added 14 points.

"This was a great win," Alabama head coach Anthony Grant said. "Anytime you can come into this place and get a win it's special. The thing we talked about was playing a full 40 minutes. We knew no deficit was insurmountable and no lead was safe. Our guys understood this, stepped up, and made plays."

Arkansas (17-11, 5-8 SEC) started the game on fire, hitting 6-of-6 from beyond the three-point arc in the first ten minutes of the game. However, Alabama went on a 24-8 run to end the half, and took a 45-41 lead into the locker room. Arkansas' 41 first-half points were the most points given up by Alabama in a half all season, while the 45 points scored by Alabama were the second most in a half for the Tide this season. Alabama continued its first-half success after the intermission, extending its run all the way out to 31-8, and bringing its lead out to 15 points.

The Razorbacks wouldn't go away though and with less than nine minutes left in the second half, Arkansas cut the lead down to nine. Alabama answered the Razorbacks immediately with a four straight points by Jacobs. The Razorbacks went on one more run with a little more than three minutes to play, cutting the Tide's lead down to five points on the strength of a 7-0 run. Alabama put the game away in the closing minutes by hitting six of ten free throws down the stretch.

For the game, Alabama shot 55.1% (27/49), tying its season-high mark. The Tide also hit six three-point shots, the second highest total of the season, while outscoring Arkansas 38 to 17 in points off the bench. The Tide returns home this weekend for a crucial SEC game, hosting Mississippi State Saturday evening. Tip-off is set for 5:00 CT and the game will be televised nationally by ESPN.