Tue, 09 Mar 2021

Alabama puts perfect SEC record on line vs. Arkansas

Field Level Media
16 Jan 2021, 03:40 GMT+10

A winner of five straight SEC games and six consecutive overall, Alabama is experiencing the kind of joyride most programs dream about.

But on Tuesday night, the Crimson Tide (10-3, 5-0) suffered a bit of a breakdown as starters Jordan Bruner and Herb Jones sustained injuries during an 85-65 winagainst Kentucky.

With Arkansas (10-3, 2-3) coming to Tuscaloosa on Saturday afternoon, Alabama's undefeated and conference-leading record could be put to the test.

Bruner (7.8 points and 5.3 rebounds per game) is out indefinitely with a torn meniscus and Jones (12.5 points, 6.1 rebounds) is described as day-to-day with a hand injury.

"The training staff has been stretched this year with everything going on," Alabama coach Nate Oats said after the win at Kentucky.

The good news is that even with those two players seeing only limited playing time, Alabama was able to roll over the blue-blooded Wildcats.

That pepped up Oats.

"Kentucky's down this year but they're still Kentucky," Oats said. "Big win for our program."

There have been other big wins for the Tide this year, including a 71-63 upset over then seventh-ranked Tennessee in Knoxville earlier this month.

"Looking at the schedule to start the year, the first six games were probably the toughest six games in the league," Oats said. "If (somebody said) we could be 5-0 heading into Arkansas, I certainly would have taken it."

Alabama is led in scoring this year by Jaden Shackelford (13.5) and SEC Player of the Year candidate John Petty Jr. (13.3).

"It's been a collective effort," Petty said. "Everybody holding each other accountable, everybody responding to the adversity. The intensity and being locked in. That's what's holding us together."

A win by Arkansas on Saturday will rinse the bitter taste of Wednesday's disappointing 92-76 loss at LSU out of the Hogs' mouths and, perhaps, get them back into the SEC title chase.

To beat Alabama, the Razorbacks will need to play better -- much better -- than they did against the Tigers, when they shot just 34.2 percent overall and 25.8 percent from 3-point land.

"And quite frankly, our defense was just as bad," Arkansas coach Eric Musselman said. "I think that as a team, we played so well against Georgia (a 99-69 win on Jan. 9), you've got to understand as a young student-athlete, the next game is a completely different game. There's no carryover."

The Razorbacks have five players averaging in double figures in scoring this year -- Moses Moody (16.8), JD Notae (15.9), Desi Sills (11.9), Justin Smith (11.6) and Jalen Tate (10.4). They also have an SEC road win against Auburn.

The Hogs are outscoring opponents this season, 87.2 to 69.2.

After the loss to the Tigers, Musselman said, "LSU's really talented and they took it to us."

On Saturday, the Razorbacks will face another really talented team, albeit one that is a bit thin because of injuries.

--Field Level Media

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