I’ll be frank here: I spent much of the second half looking at anything but the TV. Alabama lost by a final score of 68-87, but it could have been much worse than that if the Razorbacks hadn’t coasted for the last 5 minutes of the game.
The piggies came out of the gate playing a high-energy full court defense that initially stymied an unprepared Alabama offense, but Coach Avery Johnson quickly got his team acclimated and scored 7 straight points while slicing through holes in the full court press.
Then the turnovers hit. Imagine that time Europe lost over half of it’s population to the Black Death— except in the basketball form of turnovers. It started then and just got worse and worse as the game went on. Alabama managed all of one basket over the next 6 minutes, and the Razorbacks slowly extended their lead. Arkansas’s offense struggled for much of the first half to really take advantage of Alabama’s offensive ineptitude, but eventually the Tide offense prevailed in their competition of failing and the game got out of hand. Alabama went into half down 27-35, and things didn’t look good— but there was hope, as an 8-point deficit can quickly be erased with a motivation shift at halftime.
And for the first couple of possessions, it looked like that might just happen. Jimmie Taylor and Riley Norris hit back to back shots in the paint, and suddenly, it looked like a game again.
And then it wasn’t.
There weren’t any specific scoring droughts, but Alabama managed about an average of 1 point per minute (for those of you mathematically inclined folks, that would be a rate of 40 points per game), typically scoring one out of every three or so possessions.
With 12:09 left in the game, Arkansas’ Dusty Hannahs hit back-to-back three pointers. A couple of possessions later, the Razorbacks threw down an emphatic alley-oop right over the top of Donta Hall, stole the ball after the Tide inbounded it, and then dunked it again. So then Alabama was down 24 points (39-63), and the game was effectively over.
Arkansas went into cruise control and Alabama couldn’t do anything to mount a comeback.
Dazon Ingram led in scoring, hitting 5-7 for 14 points— most of which were pretty impressive shots while driving alone into traffic. He also had 3 rebounds and 3 turnovers.
Braxton Key was right behind him with 12 points, 6 of which came from the free throw line. He had 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, and a team-high 4 turnovers. And truthfully, I thought he had more than that.
Riley Norris hit a couple of 3-pointers early on, but was invisible for most of the game, scoring 8 total points and two turnovers of his own. Bola Olaniyon had a team high 9 rebounds, but counteracted that with 3 boneheaded turnovers of his own.
Oddly enough, Donta Hall and Jimmie Taylor were the only two on the team without a single turnover to their names. They had 6 points apiece, and Hall grabbed 6 rebounds while Taylor did not get a single rebound. Neither got a block.
Corban Collins scored 2 points and added 4 assists to 3 turnovers off the bench. He impressively missed two three point shots on the same possession at one point in the second half. Avery Johnson Jr. hit a whopping 1/8 of his shots on the night.
Armond Davis actually got some playing time once the game got out of hand, and he ended up with 10 points of his own, including going 6 for 6 on his free throws. He was the only Alabama player with any blocks on the night, adding 2 to his stat sheet.
So, that was horrible to watch and I’ll be impressed if any of you made it through that second half without turning off the TV. Like the Auburn fiasco a couple of weeks ago, we just saw our team completely unravel, despite two very impressive showings in the games in between.
This team seems to be very hot and cold. When they’re on, they look like they can compete with the best in the nation. When they’re off... well.... It’s bad.
There isn’t much else to say about this one. Coach has his work cut out for him to get his team back in the game, mentally. We’re still 6-3 in the SEC and can make a solid run in the final 3rd of the season.