FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — After Alabama’s sixth loss in its last eight games, Crimson Tide head coach Avery Johnson is left with the final option to salvage the UA season: desperation.

“We’ve been talking about the same things all year long,” Johnson said after an 82-70 loss at Arkansas. “I’m the head coach, so I am 99.9 percent responsible. For that 0.1 percent, some guys need to take individual responsibility. Everyone that follows us from Tuscaloosa knows I’ve never blamed the players. But I’m hoping with our backs to the wall, maybe we will do it right.

“It’s probably good that we’re in the situation where we either win or go home. Maybe that’s just what this team needs.”

Daniel Gafford, the star sophomore center for Arkansas, played a starring role for the Razorbacks, scoring 29 points and grabbing 16 rebounds in what might have been his final SEC game at Bud Walton Arena. For Alabama, it was a repeat performance of most of the month of February, although UA never gained a second-half lead to relinquish.

The Crimson Tide hit three consecutive 3-point shots to take a 26-19 lead with 10:26 remaining in the first half, then hit a wall of unusual thickness, scoring just five more points (and only one field goal) over the remainder of the half as Arkansas closed on a 17-5 run to take a 36-31 lead at intermission.

“Then we started the second half with, what, four turnovers on our first five possessions,” Johnson said. “You can’t win games on the road like that.”

Alabama cut the Razorback lead to seven points, 56-49 with 7:45 to play. But Gafford scores eight of the next 10 points for Arkansas as the Hogs pulled away.

“Gafford is a handful,” Johnson added. “He was just on another level.”

Isaiah Joe added 15 points, six rebounds and six steals for the Razorbacks (17-14, 8-10 SEC).

Tevin Mack led Alabama (also 17-14, 8-10 SEC) with 14 points, while Kira Lewis scored 12 points. Guard Dazon Ingram (bruised thigh) and center Daniel Giddens (bruised hand) did not play in the game.

The loss was Alabama’s fifth in a row against Arkansas and raised Razorback coach Mike Anderson to 4-0 against Johnson in coaching matchups. Alabama has not won at Bud Walton Arena since 2012.

Alabama finished the season as the No. 10 seed in the SEC after being projected at No. 7 in the preseason media poll. The Crimson Tide will face No. 7 seed Ole Miss in its first game at the SEC Tournament in Nashville, Tennessee, on Thursday night at 6 p.m. CT.

Reach Cecil Hurt at cecil@tidesports.com or 205-722-0225.


 

SCORING SUMMARY
Arkansas 82, Alabama 70
Alabama (17-14)
Hall 1-3 1-2 3, H.Jones 3-8 1-3 7, Lewis 5-11 1-1 12, Petty 3-8 0-0 8, Mack 4-9 3-6 14, Reese 3-6 1-2 9, Smith 2-2 3-6 7, Schaffer 0-2 0-0 0, A.Johnson 2-5 0-0 5, Norris 2-3 0-0 5. Totals 25-57 10-20 70.

Arkansas (17-14)
Gafford 11-17 7-9 29, Osabuohien 1-5 0-0 2, Joe 5-11 3-3 15, Sills 4-7 0-0 11, Harris 0-3 2-2 2, Bailey 1-6 3-4 5, Chaney 1-5 0-0 2, Henderson 0-0 0-0 0, Embery-Simpson 2-3 0-0 5, Holmes 1-1 0-0 3, M.Jones 3-7 0-0 8. Totals 29-65 15-18 82.

Halftime: Arkansas 36-31. 3-Point Goals: Alabama 10-24 (Mack 3-5, Petty 2-4, Reese 2-4, Norris 1-2, A.Johnson 1-2, Lewis 1-3, Schaffer 0-1, H.Jones 0-3), Arkansas 9-20 (Sills 3-5, M.Jones 2-4, Joe 2-5, Holmes 1-1, Embery-Simpson 1-2, Bailey 0-1, Osabuohien 0-1, Harris 0-1). Fouled Out: None. Rebounds: Alabama 31 (Hall 8), Arkansas 35 (Gafford 16). Assists: Alabama 9 (Lewis, Petty, Reese 2), Arkansas 15 (Harris 4). Total Fouls: Alabama 14, Arkansas 14. A: 16,253 (19,368).

 

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