When point guard Courtney Fortson returned to the Arkansas lineup three games ago against Texas, the Hogs looked like a much better team.
But with tough matchups against the No. 1 Longhorns, and a road test against SEC leading Mississippi State, Arkansas’ improvement under their new floor general had not translated into a victory. Until now.
Arkansas snapped a four-game losing streak, and won its first game since Fortson’s return on Saturday, beating Alabama 71-59 at Bud Walton Arena.
Three Razorbacks, including Fortson, freshman forward Marshawn Powell, and Mike Washington finished with double-doubles. Fortson scored 12 points and added 10 assists, Powell scored 18 points and pulled down 10 rebounds, and Washington scored 17 points and grabbed 13 rebounds to lead the Hogs to victory.
Arkansas jumped out to an 8-0 lead to start the game, with Powell scoring 6 of Arkansas’ first 8 points. Alabama answered with an 18-4 run of their own to take a 6 point lead, and the remainder of the first half was a back-and-forth affair ending with the Crimson Tide going into the break with a 34-32 lead.
The turning point for Arkansas came with 12:08 left in the game when Alabama guard Senario Hillman was charged with a flagrant foul on Rotnei Clarke. The foul occurred away from the ball, as Hillman appeared to hit Clarke in the mouth coming off of a screen. Officials stopped the game to look at a replay of the incident, which resulted in Hillman being ejected from the game.
The incident seemed to energize the Hogs. “That was a big play for us,” Clarke said after the game. “That got our momentum going. After that, we toughened up.”
Arkansas improved to 8-9 on the year, and 1-1 in SEC play with Saturday’s win.
Next up, the Florida Gators come to Fayetteville on Thursday for an 8pm matchup that will be televised by either ESPN or ESPN 2.