TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The Arkansas Razorbacks fought back from an 11-point deficit to tie the game late, but a missed three as time expired ended a hard-fought contest at Coleman Coliseum, 59-56, to the Alabama Crimson Tide.
Leading Arkansas (12-8, 3-4 SEC) on the hardwood was sophomore B.J. Young, finishing the night with a game-high 14 points and game-high four assists. Junior Marshawn Powell also had a noteworthy performance, picking up 11 points, two assists, two blocks and two steals.
“I’m disappointed in the loss, but I loved the effort,” Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson said. I thought that our defense was better in the second half, it really disrupted their offense. The game came down to the last second and we just couldn’t make the plays. They did a good job.”
The Razorbacks and the Crimson Tide kept things close at the start. Alabama would go on a 7-0 run over Arkansas to take a 17-9 lead. Alabama (13-7, 5-2 SEC) would extend its lead to as much as 11, 26-15. It was at the 4:04 mark in the first half that Michael Qualls began to get hot.
The freshman knocked down a jumper to bring Alabama’s lead back to single digits, 26-17. Qualls would score four of the next six Razorback points. Arkansas would enter the half with just a seven-point deficit, 30-23.
Qualls finished the first half leading the Razorbacks on the court with six points, four rebounds and one steal in just six minutes of play. Powell recorded a team-high seven points in the first with three boards and one steal.
“Qualls was big for us,” Anderson said. “This game will pay dividends for us as the season goes along. I thought that he gave us a spark off the bench in the first half.”
The Razorbacks were in a tight game in the second half as they began to chip away at the Alabama lead. It was sophomore Hunter Mickelson, who put Arkansas back in the lead as he knocked down two free throws with 12:33 on the clock to put Arkansas up 38-37. Arkansas and Alabama would continue trading baskets with no team grabbing much of a lead. With 7:02 remaining, Young picked up a huge layup to give Arkansas back the lead, 46-45. Powell would score Arkansas’ next two baskets to give the Razorbacks a 50-47 lead, but the Crimson Tide refused to go away.
With 5 seconds remaining Arkansas was down by three, 57-54 and Arkansas needed a three-pointer, but with everyone guarded closely it was Young who found a seam up the middle for a big dunk to bring Arkansas within one, 57-56. It came down to a last second shot by Young to try and send the game to overtime, but it fell short of the basket as time expired.
The Razorbacks return to Bud Walton Arena on Saturday to face the Tennessee Volunteers at 3 p.m. The game will be televised on ESPN.