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January 31, 2013
Clutch free-throw shooting keys Tide win
TUSCALOOSA | The University of Alabama basketball team did not win the turnover war against Arkansas on Thursday night, but it did win the free throw war and that was enough.
Alabama made nine of 10 foul shots in the final 3:11 o the game and held off Arkansas 59-56 at Coleman Coliseum on Thursday night.
Alabama had 21 turnovers and shot just 30 percent I the in the second half -- but made its free throws down the stretch and handed Arkansas an eighth consecutive road loss.
"This game for us was just about finding a way to win," said Crimson Tide head coach Anthony Grant. "We made some crucial defensive stops and we did a good job finishing at the free throw line."
Trevor Lacey led Alabama with 14 points while Trevor Releford scored 11.
For the game, Alabama attempted 25 free throws. Arkansas made 11 of 14 foul shots.
The first half saw offensive sputtering on both sides, with each team turning the ball over 10 times in the half. But the Crimson Tide shot better from the field (12 of 23 in the half) and led by as many as 11 points before a pair of Arkansas baskets in the final 1:09 cut the Crimson Tide halftime lead to 30-23.
Alabama (13-7, 5-2 SEC) continued to struggle with turnovers in the second half and Arkansas gradually whittled the lead away, pulling ahead 38-37 with 12:33 to play. The lead swapped hands over the next nine minutes but the Razorbacks were still ahead 52-50 with 3:36 to play.
Alabama then started the decisive series of trips to the foul line. Trevor Lacey tied the game with two foul shots, and Trevor Releford gave Alabama a lead it would hold tenaciously with two more free throws at the 2:59 mark.
Nick Jacobs added a pair with two minutes to go, and Lacey added one more after Arkansas had cut the lead to 56-54 with 19 seconds remaining. Lacey had come up with the ball after a furious scramble following a missed three-point shot by Andrew Steele.
With Alabama up 57-54, Arkansas elected to go for a two-point shot, getting a B.J. Young layup to pull back within a point.
That forced Alabama to get the ball inbounds with 4.9 seconds to play, but Levi Randolph was able to control a pass from Andrew Steele and make the final two free throws with 4.2 seconds remaining.
Young had a final 3-point attempt at the buzzer but was guarded closely and missed the tying attempt for the Razorbacks (12-8, 3-4).
"It's a good feeling to know that when adversity hits, we can continue to play through," said UA guard Levi Randolph.
"We were trying to make plays that weren't there against the press, and when we did that, we turned it over," said Lacey.
"Obviously, we are disappointed but I loved our effort," said Arkansas coach Mike Anderson. "We just ran out of times. But we've got to make plays down the stretch and put the onus on Alabama and we didn't. And Alabama did a good job with those free throws down the stretch.
"Neither team shot it well. They won it at the free throw line."
Young led Arkansas with 14 points, while Marshawn Powell added 11.
Alabama starter Rodney Cooper did not score and played just five minutes in the second half, but Grant said there was no injury issue.
"It was a coach's decision," he said.
Alabama will be on the road for its next two games, traveling to Nashville for a Saturday afternoon game at Vanderbilt.
TideSports.com Recruiting: Weekend Watch Reach Cecil Hurt at firstname.lastname@example.org or 205-722-0225.