FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas turned in its best performance of the season during the feel-good rout of Ole Miss on Wednesday night.
Three days later, the Razorbacks were at their worst at Alabama.
Arkansas ended the regular season on a sour note, suffering an 83-58 loss to the Crimson Tide in Coleman Coliseum. It was the’ largest loss this season and snapped the Razorbacks’ six-game losing streak. The poor performance also left Arkansas (21-10, 10-8 in Southeastern Conference) on shaky ground a week before the NCAA Tournament field is revealed.
“I didn’t see this coming,” Arkansas coach Mike Anderson said during his postgame radio interview. “You talk about a Senior Day for them. It was a special Senior Day for them. Let’s give Alabama some credit. They came in and kind of punched us in the mouth early on. I thought we settled for some shots and our defense was not as sharp as it should be. It seemed like we were a half step slow.
“They had a lead that we had to continue to fight to get back in it and it just didn’t take place for the Razorbacks (Saturday).”
The Razorbacks struggled offensively for the second straight time against the Crimson Tide, going 4-for-23 (17.4 percent) in the first half. Alabama led 10-8 before going on a 21-3 run that gave them a 20-point lead.
The Crimson Tide led 38-16 at halftime.
“Scoring was the issue,” Anderson said during his postgame radio interview. “I told our guys, 16 points at halftime? We can get 16 points in like a minute and half. It just wasn’t the evening for the Razorbacks that we are accustomed to seeing.”
Arkansas could never close any closer than 19 points throughout the second half and finished shooting 31.3 percent (15-for-48). The Razorbacks were outrebounded (41-25), committed more turnovers (15-13), were outscored off the bench (29-11) and were dominated in the paint (42-6) by the Crimson Tide.
Guard Trevor Releford led Alabama (13-18, 7-11 in SEC) with 24 points on senior day, while Shannon Hale added 18 points. Ky Madden led Arkansas with 19 points, but turned the ball over seven times. Bobby Portis – who scored 35 points in the first game against Alabama – finished with 17 points on Saturday.
Arkansas finished fifth in the SEC standings and will open SEC Tournament play against the winner of the Auburn/South Carolina game on Thursday at approximately 2:30 p.m. The winner will advance to play Tennessee on Friday. The Razorbacks, who haven’t played in the NCAA Tournament since 2008, can’t afford an early exit.
“That ends this season here, and as I told our guys, I’ll take the blame for that here,” Anderson said. “I’m disappointed we didn’t have a better performance.”