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Alabama’s Richard Hendrix, a graduate of Athens High, scores past Arkansas’ Steven Hill in second-half action Saturday in Tuscaloosa.
AP photo by Dan Lopez
Alabama’s Richard Hendrix, a graduate of Athens High, scores past Arkansas’ Steven Hill in second-half action Saturday in Tuscaloosa.

Tide crashes at home
Another slow start dooms Alabama as 17-game home win streak ends

By Josh Cooper
jcooper@decaturdaily.com · 340-2460

TUSCALOOSA — Alabama basketball coach Mark Gottfried seems like a positive guy on the sidelines.

Always clapping, always giving encouragement, he seems to think that no matter how dire the situation, the Crimson Tide can come back from any margin.

Following Alabama’s 63-57 loss against Arkansas on Saturday,
Gottfried will be hard pressed to turn the Crimson Tide’s fortunes.

No. 12-ranked Alabama (15-5, 2-4 SEC) has lost three of its last four, has fallen to fifth place in the SEC Western Division out of six teams and has seen its 17-game home-win streak come to an end.

“We’re in that place that a lot of teams don’t want to be,” Gottfried said. “Where you may not have the greatest confidence level.”

That seemed apparent early against Arkansas when Alabama had the “Oh, no, here we go again” look after the Razorbacks (14-7, 3-4) got up by as many 17 points in the first half.

The Crimson Tide didn’t look out of sync on offense, but still managed only 16 first-half points — its worst performance in a half since scoring 16 against Auburn in 1998.

“It was just one of those days,” Alabama forward Jermareo Davidson said. “We had a tough time on offense. It was just a matter of knocking down the shots.”

The Crimson Tide tried to pound the ball inside to try to exploit large (7-foot) but not fleet of foot Arkansas center Steven Hill.

But Hill played up to the challenge, finishing with 16 rebounds and four blocks.

The only player who had any success in the post was Athens High graduate Richard Hendrix, who finished with a game-high 28 points and 11 rebounds. He had 23 points after halftime.

“I think we know when someone has the hot hand we keep feeding them,” Hendrix said. “We just have to get the offense going when we’re all clicking.”

Alabama also had problems in transition — the Crimson Tide did not have any fast-break points.

There were no momentum-changing plays for the Tide. No barrage of 3-point baskets — Brandon Hollinger hit the team’s only trey. And few rim-rattling dunks to spark the home crowd of 15,316, which was a sellout.

Alonzo Gee, the team’s leading scorer, had one field goal, a dunk, which came with 6:15 remaining in the second half.

Alabama did make a game of it late. Arkansas led 51-27 with 10:50 to play, but Alabama sliced that down to a five-point advantage at 58-53 with 59 seconds to play.

However, officials whistled Hendrix for an intentional foul against Arkansas’ Charles Thomas, who was headed for an open dunk.

Thomas left with a shoulder injury, and Stefan Welsh hit a free throw to swing the momentum back to Arkansas.

Alabama didn’t get closer than five after that.

According to the team, the small surge at the end to make a game out of a blowout could have sparked something in them.

“We’re going to be positive everywhere we go,” Gottfried said. “Everyone will think they have the one answer. We’re going to stay together be positive and turn this thing around.”

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