Alabama Faces Crucial Home Test Against Arkansas

Nothing has changed for Alabama basketball following its recent 90-76 loss to LSU on Wednesday night. Its play fast. Be tough. Shoot the three-point ball. And run in transition. When all goes according to plan, the Crimson Tide is a dangerous team, one that can play with anyone in the country. When it crumbles, haunting memories of past Alabama teams resurface.

This season the Crimson Tide has 589 shots from behind the arc, has made 207 more than any other SEC team and holds a league-best 35.1 percent. Against LSU, Alabama went 10-of-38 from three-point range. John Petty Jr., one of the Crimson Tide’s top three-point shooters, finished 0-of-3.

In what is essentially a must-win for the Crimson Tide, finding success is needed. And that won’t be easy. Arkansas is one of the best teams defending the three-point shot, holding opponents to just 24.6 percent, which is best in the nation.

Entering the game in Baton Rouge, Alabama led the SEC in rebounding. Though, the Crimson Tide has struggled the past two games. Kansas State outrebounded Alabama 45-33, scoring 15-second chance points. And LSU outrebounded Alabama 49-31, with 20-second chance points.

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Alabama needs to play tough, do the dirty work and get rebounds, especially on the defensive side of the ball. In the previous two games, teams have outrebounded the Crimson Tide offensively 36-14.

That dirty work can keep Arkansas off the foul line. Winning four of the last five games, Alabama has allowed teams to stay within reach, despite being the better team. Missouri went 31-of-31 from the line, Vanderbilt went 17-of-20, Kansas State went 12-of-19 and LSU finished 19-of-20.

Significantly better than years past, Alabama needs to continue getting to the foul line. Kira Lewis driving in the paint. Because with March in sight, every win matters. And, history shows how important free throws are.

Alabama (12-8, 4-3 SEC) is looking to snap a six-game head-to-head losing streak to Arkansas (15-5, 3-4 SEC). The Crimson Tide’s last win in the series came on March 8, 2014, with an 83-58 victory. Already with a staple win over then No. 4 Auburn 83-64 and remaining No. 40 in the NET rankings after its loss to LSU, beating the Razorbacks will prove to be a great place holder.

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