TUSCALOOSA ?? The first of two regular season meetings went into overtime where Gary Ervin’s acrobatic 3-point shot in the final minute led to Arkansas defeating the University of Alabama 71-67 in Fayetteville on January 13. Wednesday night the Crimson Tide is hoping to return the favor and take the home win against the Razorbacks when Alabama hosts Arkansas.
Tip-off in Coleman Coliseum is set for 7 p.m. CT. It will be televised on Raycom Sports with Dave Baker calling the play-by-play and Joe Dean, Jr., as analyst. Tickets are available and can be purchased at the door, through Alabama’s official athletics website www.rolltide.com or by calling 1-877-TIDETIX. It is the first of two final home games for Alabama. Alabama’s final home appearance is on Saturday, March 8 when it hosts Vanderbilt.
“Arkansas is a good team. They have a good low post game and Sonny Weems is playing really well right now,” said 6-foot-6 Tide senior guard Mykal Riley who is a native of Pine Bluff, Ark., and made a 3-point shot late in the game to send it into overtime. “In our first game there, it was a close game. Darian Townes had a good game that game in low post and I think Sonny Weems did, too. It was close game and it went into overtime. They made big shots and came out with the win.”
Alabama is 14-13 overall and 3-9 in Southeastern Conference play. Arkansas is 18-8 overall and 7-5 in league play. Both teams are attempting to rebound from road losses last weekend, Alabama at Auburn on Sunday and Arkansas at Kentucky last Saturday.
“I think when you look at the league and you look at just experience and talent level, I would say that Arkansas is probably at the top with the seniors,” said Alabama coach Mark Gottfried. ”Those kids have done a great job over there. They’ve been to two straight NCAA tournaments. They’ve done a lot of good things. I have a lot of respect for them, all of those guys. I think that Sonny Weems is playing at a high, high level right now. And even though he’s scoring more maybe right now than he was earlier, I still think that they are one of those teams that has a lot of weapons. They can beat you a lot of different ways. A lot of guys can step up and make some plays offensively for them so it’s got to be a good collective effort with us.”
The game will feature a couple of SEC Player of the Year candidates in Alabama’s Richard Hendrix and Arkansas senior Sonny Weems. Hendrix, a 6-foot-9 junior forward from Athens, is the only player in the SEC who is averaging the double double. The All-SEC forward averages 18.5 points and 10.1 rebounds. He leads the league in rebounding, in all games and league play and ranks third in scoring. Weems. A 6-foot-6 guard/forward from West Memphis, Ark., is averaging 15.3 points in all games but it moves up to 18.9 points a game in league play.
Alabama has three starters who rank among the top 20 in the SEC in scoring with Hendrix third at 18.5 points a game, Alonzo Gee 11th at 15.6 points a game and Riley 20th at 14.3 points a game. Gee ranks eight in rebounding with his average of 7.3 rebounds a game.