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Hogs hurt by 'Bama backups

Alabama was without two of its starters before the game began, and a third went down with an injury after playing just six minutes.

B.J. Young had a game-high 21 points, but scored just four in the second half.

That didn’t seem to matter Thursday night against Arkansas.

The Razorbacks started hot but fell apart for a stretch spanning both halves, and the Crimson Tide took a 79-68 victory in front of 11,200 fans at Bud Walton Arena.

Arkansas (17-11, 5-8 SEC) lost its third straight game and for the fifth time out of the past six games. The Razorbacks were 17-0 at home but have now lost back-to-back games at Bud Walton Arena.

Alabama (18-9, 7-6) played without suspended starters JaMychal Green and Tony Mitchell – the team’s top two scorers and rebounders – and Trevor Lacey, another starter, suffered a sprained ankle midway through the first half. He did not return.

Even so, the Crimson Tide found a way to snap a two-game skid and win for the fourth time in six games.

“I thought Alabama came in with a purpose, with a sense of urgency,” Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson said. “That’s the thing we’ve certainly been trying to make our guys understand.”

It looked like the Hogs would roll early. They hit seven three-pointers in the first 12-plus minutes, taking a 33-21 lead on a Julysses Nobles three that capped a 9-0 run.

But Alabama then went on a 10-1 run and outscored the Razorbacks 24-8 for the rest of the half, taking a 45-41 lead into the break. The Crimson Tide led the rest of the way, getting up by as many as 15 in the second half before the Razorbacks cut it to five with 3:17 left.

They got no closer.

“Very proud of our team tonight,” Alabama Coach Anthony Grant said. “I thought this was a great win for us. Arkansas came out and really shot the ball well, played with a lot of passion, a lot of energy to start the game.”

Arkansas guards Julysses Nobles and B.J. Young said the Hogs hurt themselves.

“Defense is slacking right now,” Nobles said. “We’ve got to pick it up.”

“We just broke down defensively,” Young said. “Defensive breakdowns and energy level went down. We let them start making a run on us.”

But Alabama guard Trevor Releford had a different take on it.

“I think we just kept attacking them and being aggressive, going up and down the floor, and that’s our game,” Releford said. “That’s what we’re good at.”

Rodney Cooper scored 17 points off the bench to lead four Alabama players in double figures. Andrew Steele added 15 points and six rebounds, and Releford and Nick Jacobs, who also came off the bench, each scored 14.

Young led Arkansas with 21 points, but in the second half, he only took one shot from the floor and scored four points.

Grant said Young, who played 32 minutes, probably got tired, and that the Crimson Tide also became more aware of him.

Rickey Scott added 12 points, and Mardracus Wade and Nobles each scored 11 for Arkansas. Davonta Abron had seven points and 10 rebounds.

The Razorbacks shot 72.7 percent (8 of 11) from three-point range in the first half. They were 0 for 6 from beyond the arc in the second half. Arkansas also had 18 turnovers, leading to 21 Alabama points, and committed 24 fouls.

“We got behind in the second half and it seems like it was an uphill battle the rest of the game,” Anderson said.

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