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.
In the lane:
Players say loss on them
Players on the Alabama bench, including guards Retin Obasohan (32), Trevor Releford and Rodney Cooper (21), react to the score by walk-on guard Isiah Wilson during an NCAA college basketball game against Arkansas on Saturday, March 8, 2014, at Coleman Coliseum in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo/AL.com, Vasha Hunt)
Players say loss on them
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Arkansas will be the No. 5 seed in SEC Tournament and play Thursday in Atlanta against the Auburn-South Carolina winner.
The Hogs played each team once, winning both games at Walton Arena.
The Razorbacks beat the Tigers 86-67 and beat the Gamecocks 71-64.
The Razorbacks (21-10, 10-8) will be trying to win an SEC Tournament game for the first time since 2008 and boost their NCAA Tournament resume after losing 83-58 to Alabama on Saturday at Coleman Coliseum.
Arkansas game into Saturday’s game having won six consecutive SEC games for the first time since 1998 to bounce back from a 2-6 conference start.
“We’ve had a lot of adversity this whole year,” said senior guard Kikko Haydar, a team captain along with senior forward Coty Clarke. “So this is just another thing we have to deal with.
“We’ll get the guys together and we’ll remember this feeling, and we’ll move on from it.”
Clarke said the Razorbacks will regroup from the Alabama loss.
“Go back to the drawing board and know that when you get outplayed, that’s what can happen,” Clarke said. “We just got outplayed today, and we usually outplay every team.
“We need to go back, look in the mirror, and get back to who we were. We weren’t who we are today. I take that upon myself, and Kikko also.”
Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson accepted the blame for the loss, but Haydar and Clarke said it was the players who didn’t perform.
“Coach had nothing to do with this,” Haydar said.
“This was all on us.”
Alabama Coach Anthony Grant said he remains impressed by the Razorbacks, who went 8-2 in their final SEC games.
“It wouldn’t be surprising if they go on and have a chance to win and advance in the SEC Tournament and go on to the NCAA Tournament and do really well,” Grant said. “I think Coach Anderson does a great job of making those guys understand style of play and what they need to do.”Not due
Coty Clarke scoffed at the idea Arkansas was due for a letdown on Saturday after winning six consecutive games, including the Razorbacks’ first victory at Kentucky in 20 years and first at Mississippi State in 14 years.
“We weren’t due for anything,” Clarke said.
“We just didn’t come out with energy and effort. We didn’t play defense, didn’t rebound. We were stagnant on offense.
“We just didn’t perform at our highest level. That’s the reason they won today.”
No Portis repeat
Alabama held Arkansas forward Bobby Portis to 17 points on 4-of-9 shooting from the field after he scored 35 points and hit 14 of 17 shots in the Razorbacks’ 65-58 victory over the Tide on Feb. 5 in Fayetteville.
Tide Coach Anthony Grant credited Alabama freshman Jimmie Taylor, who like Portis is 6-10, with helping Alabama’s interior defense. Taylor also had a nice game offensively with 10 points on 5-of-5 shooting.
Portis combined to shoot 18 of 26 (69.2 percent) in two games against Alabama.The rest of the Razorbacks combined to shoot 11 of 41 (26.8 percent).
Arkansas sophomore guard Anthlon Bell went scoreless and shot 0 of 5 from the field, including 0 of 3 on three-point attempts, in 10 minutes on Saturday. Bell had averaged 14.7 points in the previous four games, including scoring a career high 23 points against Ole Miss on Wednesday night when he hit 7 of 10 three pointers.
Not sweet 16
Alabama held Arkansas to its fewest points in a first half this season when the Tide led the Razorbacks 39-16 at halftime.
Arkansas’ previous first half low was 25 points in an 88-74 loss at LSU on Feb.
1, when forwards Michael Qualls and Alandise were suspended.
“We can score 16 points in a minute and half,” Razorbacks Coach Mike Anderson said. “You look up tonight and we had 16 points at half. That’s not a good sign there when that takes place.”The series
Arkansas has a 29-28 series lead over Alabama, which is 7-2 in the teams’ last nine meetings.
The Tide are 19-5 against the Razorbacks in Tuscaloosa and have won seven consecutive home games in the series.
The Razorbacks’ last victory at Coleman Coliseum was 63-57 on Jan. 27, 2007.
SEC Tournament At Georgia Dome, Atlanta All times Central
FIRST ROUND Wednesday’s games
No. 12 Auburn vs. No. 13 South Carolina, 6 p.m.
No. 11 Vanderbilt vs. No. 14 Mississippi State, 25 minutes after first game
SECOND ROUND Thursday’s games
No. 8 Missouri vs. No. 9 Texas A&M, noon
Auburn-South Carolina winner vs. No. 5 Arkansas, 25 minutes after first game
No. 7 LSU vs. No. 10 Alabama, 6:00
Vanderbilt-Mississippi State winner vs. No. 6 Ole Miss, 25 minutes first game
QUARTERFINALS Friday’s games
Missouri-Texas A&M winner vs. No. 1 Florida, noon
Auburn-South Carolina-Arkansas winner vs. No. 4 Tennessee, 25 minutes after first game
LSU-Alabama winner vs. No. 2 Kentucky, 6 p.m.
Vanderbilt-Mississippi State-Ole Miss winner vs. No. 3 Georgia, 25 minutes after first game SEMIFINALS Saturday’s games
Quarterfinal winners, noon
Quarterfinal winners , 25 minutes after first game FINALS Sunday’s game
Semifinal winners, 2:15 p.m.
Sports, Pages 26 on 03/09/2014