Apparently, this Razorback team had one more olde tyme road disaster left in them.
Arkansas picked a hell of a time to play its worst half of the season. On the cusp of an NCAA Tournament at-large berth, on the good side of every bubble projection, with a six-game winning streak and after winning eight of their last nine games, the Hogs could only muster 16 points in the first half against Alabama.
Six. Teen. Points.
Alabama, meanwhile, wasted no time in pouring in 39 first-half points. The game was never close. The Tide shot over 50% for the whole game. Arkansas finished the game barely clearing 31%, which is somewhat of a miracle considering the Hogs were just 4-for-23 in the first half.
It’s impossible to say how bad that first half was. Arkansas’ previous low for points in a half was 20 in the SEC opener against Texas A&M, and this was even worse. Perfect opportunity for Rust Cohle’s flat circle speech.
One particular stat that blows my mind is that Arkansas, despite missing so many more shots than Alabama, still lost the offensive rebounding battle 12-8. Think about that.
More fun stats: Arkansas was destroyed on points in the paint 42-6 and 29-11 in bench points. That bench points stat is completely unacceptable. The Razorbacks pride themselves on having an effective bench and Alabama is not deep at all.
If you want to take anything positive away from this game, the Hogs did play much better in the second half, at least offensively, scoring 42 points. Bobby Portis scored 17 points, although he was hampered by foul trouble in the first half and only played eight minutes. Rashad Madden led the team with 19 points. Coty Clarke had eight.
But most of the players who struggled in January struggled again. Michael Qualls, Anthlon Bell, Kikko Haydar, Fred Gulley, and Alandise Harris were a combined 2-for-22. Arkansas has been bailed out a couple of times this season by hero performances from Portis, Bell, Madden or someone else, but they didn’t have that today.
It wasn’t enough to come close to Alabama. Trevor Releford celebrated Senior Day with 24 points and four assists. Shannon Hale had 18 and two others were in double digits.
As for Arkansas’ NCAA Tournament hopes, this certainly doesn’t help anything. It’s too soon to say if this game knocked them out. Several bubble teams play later today, and we’ll definitely have an updated bracketology post when the next round of projections come out.
One thing’s for sure, the season will come down to the SEC Tournament. Arkansas absolutely must win on Thursday against the winner of Wednesday’s Auburn/South Carolina game. If the Razorbacks win that, they’ll play either Tennessee or Georgia on Friday in what could end up being the game that determines whether or not Arkansas plays in the NCAA Tournament.