Feb 23, 2012, 10:50 PM EST
Arkansas may have approached Thursday’s game against Alabama as a “must-win,” but it seems the Crimson Tide did the same thing.
Alabama played its fourth straight game without leading scorers JaMychal Green and Tony Mitchell (suspensions related to violating team rules) yet handed the Razorbacks a rare home loss, 79-68. Freshman wing Rodney Cooper scored 17 in the win.
That’s a huge win for the Tide (18-9, 7-6 in SEC), which has won two in a row after losing six of the previous nine. A loss would’ve added to their NCAA tournament woes in a big way – and would’ve seemed awfully familiar to ‘Bama fans, too. The team lost three of its last five games last season and missed out on an at-large bid despite a 12-4 SEC record.
Now the Tide can still reach 10 SEC wins, a nice benchmark for at-large bids. (Only three times since 1991 has a team with that many SEC wins been left out of the NCAAs.) They’ll have to win out, but with home games against Miss State and Auburn, then at Ole Miss, it’s possible.
As for Arkansas (17-10, 5-7) and its NCAA tourney hopes? Put it this way – they were slim at best before this home loss.
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