After a 4 game losing streak that saw Trevor Releford, JaMychal Green, and Tony Mitchell each have good games, just not at the same time, Alabama's big 3 finally seemed to figure out that they are at their best when they compliment each other. In a game that was close from start to finish, the Crimson Tide defeated the Arkansas Razorbacks by a score of 72-66, ending Alabama's 4 game skid while keeping the Hogs winless on the road.
While the game was heavily influenced by both teams' defensive efforts-the teams combined for 23 steals and 33 turnovers-the real story of the game was the Tide's offensive output from it's stars. Releford, who had been held to just 2 points in Alabama's Wednesday night loss to South Carolina, paced the Tide with an 18 point effort. The sophomore guard also had 4 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals in his workmanlike 37 minutes of play. Refusing to be outdone by their diminutive teammate, front court duo Green and Mitchell also contributed mightily. Green, who started the game on the bench, scored 14 points and pulled down 8 rebounds, while Mitchell added 11 points and 6 rebounds. The Tide also received a huge spark off the bench, with senior Andrew Steele scoring 11 points, grabbing 6 rebounds, and dishing out 6 assists, all in his 29 minutes of work. Steele has proven to be a huge spark to this team since he re-joined them earlier in the season. It was thought his career was over after suffering several concussions during his time at the Capstone. Coach Anthony Grant was quick to praise his team for their play down the stretch, especially after Arkansas regained the lead in the second half after going in down by 7 at halftime.
"I'm proud of our guys for finding a way, when Arkansas took the lead during the second half; our guys never lost their poise, stayed with it and found a way to come out with the win" Grant said. "It was good to see our guys get stops at the end of the game, come up with some big rebounds and make some free throws to close it out."
Coach Mike Anderson's Arkansas Razorbacks were led in scoring by Rickey Scott, who had 18. Sophomore guard Mardracus Wade and freshman phenom B.J. Young contributed 12 and 11 points, respectively. The Hogs record now falls to 15-6, and 3-3 in league play. They have an opportunity to get a big win on Tuesday night when they host the Vanderbilt Commodores. Tip-off is at 8:00 pm CT. ESPN will broadcast the game.
Coach Grant and the Tide get a few days to catch their breath and prepare for their next opponent. Alabama's next game is on Saturday, Feb. 4th, when they welcome the Ole Miss Rebels (13-7, 3-3 SEC at the time of publication) to Coleman Coliseum. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:00 pm CT, and ESPN2 will televise the game nationally.