Bob Holt is a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Missouri, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and voter for the Heisman Trophy, Biletnikoff Award and AP Top 25 basketball poll. Holt was awarded Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year in 2000 and 2015.
Razorbacks understand how Tide feel
Alabama head coach Anthony Grant watches as his team fades during an NCAA basketball game against Auburn, Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014, at Auburn Arena in Auburn, Ala. (AP Photo/Alabama Media Group, Vasha Hunt)
FAYETTEVILLE - It’s been almost a year since Alabama won a road game, and Arkansas hopes to keep the Crimson Tide struggling away from home when the teams play at 7 tonight in Walton Arena.
Arkansas is 2-22 in road games in Coach Mike Anderson’s three seasons, but the Razorbacks at least have won on the road more recently than Alabama - by one day.
The Razorbacks’ last road victory was at Auburn, 83-75, on Feb. 13, 2013. The Tide’s last road victory was at Georgia, 52-45, on Feb. 12.
Since then Alabama (9-12, 3-5 SEC) has lost eight consecutive road games, including an 0-5 record this season. The Tide are 0-8 away from home this season, including losses to Oklahoma in Dallas and to Duke and Drexel in New York.
Alabama lost 74-55 last week at Auburn as the Tigers ended their 16-game losing streak against SEC teams. The Tide’s other road losses this season are UCLA, Missouri, Georgia and South Florida.
“Honestly, I think that’s something you guys in the media focus on,” Alabama Coach Anthony Grant said Tuesday when asked about the team’s road record. “We focus on one game.
“We’re going to game plan for Arkansas. We’re not going to game plan for every road game we’ve played. We’re going to focus on the task at hand, and our task right now is to go to Arkansas and try to get a win.”
In eight games away from home, Alabama is averaging 63.9 points and shooting 39.7 percent from the field compared to 72.6 points and shooting 47.8 percent in 13 home games.
“Obviously, we’ve played against some pretty good competition on the road and in some very hostile environments,” Grant said. “Outside of a couple of games, we’ve had opportunities in pretty much all of our games away from home.
“The thing we’ve got to be able to do is maintain that fight for 40 minutes that you need to be able to pull out some of these wins on the road.”
Alabama’s loss at Auburn appeared to carry over to the Tide’s home game against Tennessee last Saturday, when the Vols won 76-49. But Razorbacks senior guard Mardracus Wade said he expects the Tide to use the Auburn and Tennessee losses as motivation.
“Those guys are going to be hungry,” Wade said. “Whenever you’ve got two bad games, you want to come out the next game with a lot of fight and a lot of energy. They’re coming in here to get a [victory], so we’ve got to come out with the mindset we’re going to protect our home court.”
Senior guard Kikko Haydar said the Razorbacks can’t pay attention to Alabama’s road record.
“I think it’s funny when a lot of people look at other scores and then they try to say, ‘Oh, well, you guys should kill them,’ ” Haydar said. “We expect a very good Alabama team to come in here … and we’re going to have to play well to win.
“Regardless of how they’ve done against other people, every game is new. This is the SEC, and everybody’s good.”
Grant said he believes his players are resilient.
“You compete to win, and when you lose you’re disappointed,” Grant said. “But as a competitor, you dust yourself off, you get up and you keep moving.
“Our vision is to build a program that can compete for championships. We’re not there yet, but we’re going to keep working. We’re going to keep grinding every single day.”
Sports, Pages 22 on 02/05/2014