FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — No. 15 Arkansas met no. 4 Alabama for the first top-15 matchup in Bud Walton arena since 1995. In a game with early SEC title implications, and against a very big lineup for the Tide, Eric Musselman decided to go with a bigger starting 5. MakhelMitchell started alongside his brother, Makhi, and replaced Ricky Council IV to bring a much larger presence to the post.
The strategy was a success for the most part, causing havoc for Alabama’s bigs and helping to penetrate the Tide’s zone defense. The Hogs kept up with the Tide for much of the game. Alabama’s largest lead in the first half was 7 and that quickly vanished with a small, 6-2 run. At the 1:47 mark Arkansas even took the lead until the final seconds of the half.
Jalen Graham added a boost offensively. He came into the game once players started to get in foul trouble and scored 8 of the last 14 points for the Hogs. Devo Davis was another Hogs that really stepped up in the first half. Davis was tasked with guarding Alabama’s star freshman, Brandon Miller. Miller averages 19.1 points a game a makes 43.3% of his shots. Davis locked down Miller and allowed zero shot attempts in the first half.
The Hogs go into halftime tied at 31.
Alabama jumped out to a quick 5-point lead, but Arkansas kept the lead from growing more than 5 for the first 8 minutes of the second half. At the 12:19 mark, Noah Clowney for Alabama hit a 3-point shot matching the Tide’s largest lead of the night, butthe lead quickly grew to 12. The Razorbacks made one last push, offensively, to get back in the game. It was spearheaded by none other than Jalen Graham. On a 13-2 run, Graham either scored or assisted all but one of the baskets—the lone shot being a 3-pointer by Devo Davis.
The Hogs cut the lead to 2 points with 4:55 left in the game, but after a timeout called by Nate Oats, the Tide hit back with three straight 3-point baskets, off of two turnovers by the Hogs. The Tide’s lead grew to 11 in less than 50 seconds with 3:42 in the game. Without a legitimate 3-point threat from the Razorbacks, a comeback with so little time was impossible.
Alabama walks out of BWA with a win, 84-69.
The Hogs shot fairly decent from the field, knocking down 42.6% (26-62) of their shots. Attempts from beyond the arch, however, have become this team’s Achilles heel. According to HogStats.com, Arkansas is currently 73-257 (28.4%) from the 3-point line this season, marking the lowest in team history.
Arkansas is currently 73-257 from 3 this season for 28.4%, which is the lowest in team history.— HogStats.com (@HogStats) January 12, 2023
Arkansas turned the ball over 15 times and only recorded 9 assists. The bright spot in the stat sheet is that the Hogs look to be improving from the free-throw line. The Hogs hit 15-23 (65.2%) of their attempts—which is far better than their last two games.
It was a tale of two halves for Arkansas, defensively. Alabama couldn’t seem to get anything going in the first half, especially with their star Brandon Miller, but finding ways for Miller to score looked to be an emphasis for the Tide in the second half. Miller finished with 14 points and scored two of the three 3-point shots to break the game open for Alabama.
Bama was held to 33 points in the first half but broke it loose with a 51-point, second-half performance. Arkansas held the Tide to 25-54 (46.3) and 9-20 (45%) from downtown. Arkansas forced 13 turnovers and both teams were evenly matched in the rebound battle with 37 all.
Devo Davis and Jalen Graham led the team in scoring with 16 points each. Ricky Council IV followed closely behind with 15. Council and Davis tied for the most assists at 3 a piece. Davisrounded out his night with a team-high 10 boards for a double-double.
The schedule gets a little easier as Arkansas heads to Nashville to play Vanderbilt on January 14th. An SEC road win could be the spark Arkansas needs to bounce back. Tipoff is scheduledfor 1:00cst.