February 28, 2008

Report card: Alabama 59, Arkansas 56

Perimeter Offense
Alabama shot just 20 percent from 3-point range, but a cold night is more manageable when shooters don't force them. That makes Alabama's 2-of-10 night far less of a problem than a 4-of-20 effort would have been. Rico Pickett and Brandon Hollinger dished just one assist between them, so the halfcourt offense was no thing of beauty. Post men Richard Hendrix and Demetrius Jemison seemingly knocked down as many outside shots as the guards.

Perimeter Defense
How does a team give up 88 points to a below-average Auburn team, then limit a far-better Arkansas team to 56 three days later? Whatever the tonic, it was exactly what was needed. Alabama defended the 3-point line as well as it has all year as the Razorbacks shot 3 of 21 from long range. The defense also created a few easy baskets in transition, always critical in a low-scoring game. Wednesday night, Senario Hillman was the best defender on the floor for either team.

Interior Offense
Welcome to the spotlight, Demetrius Jemison. Alabama's undersized forward took full advantage of the excessive defensive attention Arkansas paid to Richard Hendrix, resulting in game-highs for points (19) and rebounds (11). He also converted 5 of 5 free throws, including two late with the game still in doubt. Hendrix was his usual self with a double-double (12 points, 10 rebounds).

Interior Defense
Arkansas' Darian Townes hurt Alabama for the second time this year, finishing with 17 points and giving him 35 for the two-game season series. None of the Razorbacks' other post men did any serious damage, however, as Steven Hill and Charles Thomas provided just five points combined in 32 minutes. Mykal Riley chipped in six defensive rebounds. Hendrix added a game-high five steals, including a late hustle play that resulted in a dunk for Pickett at a critical time.

Bench play
UA tried five-man substitutions in the first half with mixed results. Mark Gottfried said he wanted to play 10 and see who played well, and stuck with those who did. Mikhail Torrace coughed up three turnovers in four minutes and returned to the bench, but Hillman impressed defensively and was left in the game to play 26 minutes. The only scholarship DNP was Justin Tubbs.

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