Jones, Whitt lead Arkansas over Alabama 82-78
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Following a close midweek loss at home, Arkansas coach Eric Mussleman knew his team needed a win on Saturday.
“To play on the road in the SEC is never easy and kind of felt like it was a must-win for us based on our last home game,” Musselman said. “Just proud of how we battled.”
Jones and Whitt carried the Arkansas offense throughout the game, combining for nearly 70% of the Razorbacks’ points.
After trailing for most of the first half, Arkansas (16-5, 4-4 Southeastern Conference) built its largest lead of the game at 64-57 with a layup from Whitt.
Alabama (12-9, 4-4) responded with a 9-2 run and an Alex Reese tip-in gave Alabama a 69-66 lead with 4:11 to go, putting the home crowd into a frenzy.
However, that would be the last lead Alabama had, and the final field goal it would make until hitting a 3-pointer as time expired.
Jalen Harris finished with 11 points.
Arkansas entered the game first in the country in 3-point defense, allowing opponents to shoot 24.6% from behind the arc, and Alabama entered fourth in the country in 3-point field goals made, so something had to give.
Alabama made its first two 3-point shots as part of 12-0 run to open the game, but then missed their next nine and finished 8 of 31 from deep overall (26%).
“I think that 12-0 start is our best start of the year,” Alabama coach Nate Oats said. “Leadership was there to start, but we’ve had this issue all year maintaining our effort for 40 minutes, and the second half (was) bad.”
Jaden Shackelford had five of those 3-pointers for Alabama and tied his career high with 28 points.
Arkansas: The Razorbacks end a three-game conference losing streak and add a quality road win to their tournament resume.
Alabama: Alabama was without starter Herbert Jones and rotation-player James Bolden, forcing them to play a seven-man rotation the entire game. The Crimson Tide will have to navigate the next few weeks without Jones.
HERBERT JONES OUT INDEFINITELY
Alabama junior Herbert Jones will be out indefinitely from a wrist injury he suffered during the LSU game, the team announced about an hour before tipoff. Jones is the team’s leading defender and was averaging 9.9 points and 6.3 rebounds per game.
Arkansas hosts Auburn on Tuesday night.
Alabama looks to regroup and hosts Tennessee on Tuesday night.