FAYETTEVILLE – Sophomore Marshawn Powell scored 17 points and was one of four Razorbacks to score in doubles figures on Saturday afternoon as the Razorback men’s basketball team defeated the Alabama Crimson Tide, 70-65, at Bud Walton Arena. The point total from Powell was his third straight double figure scoring effort and 28th of his career.
Arkansas (12-4, 2-1), who trailed nearly the entire game, came back late in the second half to take their first lead with two minutes to play. Alabama (10-7, 2-1) suffered two key turnovers in those final two minutes, which led to clutch free throw shooting by the Razorbacks in the final seconds.
“We’re very fortunate to win today,” said Arkansas head coach John Pelphrey. Alabama did a good job of controlling the game and they’re tough. But, we controlled late and we were fortunate to catch up at the end. The fans were phenomenal again today. I can’t say enough about them.”
After being down four at halftime and struggling from behind the arc, the Razorbacks were forced to come out in the second half and work a strong inside game. Senior Delvon Johnson and sophomore Marshawn Powell stepped up to that task to combine for over half of Arkansas’ second half offense. The Hogs, as a team, did recover from a poor shooting first half to go 13-of-24 from the field in the second half.
The final half actually was going much like the first half as Alabama continued to hold a solid five to seven point advantage through the first 10 minutes. However, the Hogs would go on a 12-5 run tie the game for the first time at 6:37 mark after a jumper by Powell. The Crimson Tide would build up another four point lead after that and it would last for the next four minutes of play.
Down three with 3:08 to play, the Hogs would go to the inside once again, getting a bucket in the paint from Johnson and a monster dunk from Powell, gave the Razorbacks their first lead of the day. The dunk would send the season high crowd at Bud Walton into an absolute frenzy.
“The number one thing today was the crowd,” said Powell. “It made me dig deeper than I ever thought I could.”
Alabama would take the lead back after two free throws from Trevor Releford, but a running jumper from junior Rotnei Clarke would give the Hogs a one point advantage that they would take to the end of the game. Alabama would be forced to foul with less than a minute left and Arkansas would knock down four of their final six free throws to grab the five point victory.
Both the Hogs and the Tide had a tough time finding the bucket early in the first half as it became a defensive battle with only nine points scored between both teams through the first four minutes. The Crimson Tide would jump out to six point lead after five minutes of play off three-pointers from Tony Mitchell and Chavez Davis, the team’s only threes of the half, but the Razorbacks would keep the deficit under 10 points for the entire half.
Even with the Hog’s struggles from the field, they were able to take advantage of multiple free throw opportunities in the first half, going 10-for-12 from the line as a team, eight of which came from Powell and sophomore Julysses Nobles. It was Noble’s dribble penetration and Powell’s inside presence that the team had to lean on in the first 20 minutes, shooting only 32 percent from the field.
With two minutes to go in the half, the Hogs found themselves down 10 for the second time in the game, but a quick 6-0 run by the Razorbacks to end the half, including a three-pointer by Clarke would put the them down only four points, 33-29, going into the locker room. The three-pointer by Clarke was the first and only three-pointer made by the Hogs in the first half. Powell and Nobles would lead all Arkansas scorers at the half with seven points, while Clarke followed up with five.
The Razorback men’s basketball team go back to the road for their next conference game against South Carolina on January 19th. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. and will be televised by the SEC Network and also available on ESPN3.com. The Hogs next home game is scheduled for January 25th against Auburn. That tip is scheduled for 8 p.m. For all information regarding the men’s basketball team, log on to ArkansasRazorbacks.com.
PHOTO COURTESY OF ARKANSAS MEDIA RELATIONS