The Razorbacks won their fifth game in six attempts Saturday night in Tuscaloosa's Coleman Coliseum with a 76-73 victory over the Alabama Crimson Tide in front of 15,383 in attendance. Kentucky, Missouri and Florida are each sitting at 8-7 with games to play. Refs letting them play.
"Hats off to our guys", Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson said. We're getting better, and we did it for 40 minutes.
The freshman point guard sat out Alabama's season opener against Memphis on November 10 after he was a part of the same FBI investigation.
"It starts with defense", sophomore forward Braxton Key added.
The Razorbacks would stretch the lead to 69-60 on a Dustin Thomas jumper with 2:41 remaining before the Crimson Tide's late rally.
After six games in which Johnson started both of his bigs, junior forwards Donta Hall and Daniel Giddens, Key was back in the starting lineup to try and get more production out of the position.More news: Samsung Galaxy S9 Promo Video Leaks Ahead Of MWC Unpacked Event
"If I had the opportunity, I was going to take advantage of it", Harper said. With the productive day at the dish, the senior second baseman has now recorded at least one hit in all seven games of the young season.
Arkansas outscored Alabama in the paint, 30-22.
Each team had 10 turnovers in the first half, and despite the relatively low score, Arkansas was 48.1 percent from the floor on 13 of 27 shooting, including 5 of 7 from beyond the 3-point arc.
But coming out of the locker room after halftime, a new Key emerged, including hitting his first 3-pointer of the game to give Alabama its first lead, 39-37, 3:05 into the second half.
Alabama got off to a very sluggish start, quickly falling behind 11-4 in the first 3:18.
Harper's 21 points were three off his career high, which he tied less than two weeks ago on the road against Georgia - another game that Auburn was undermanned for. Key has 13 to lead the Tide. He finished the game with 7 points.More news: Man City's Pep Guardiola to wear yellow ribbon at Carabao Cup final
When Alabama took a 57-56 lead with 6:53 to play, Jaylen Barford hit a three. Tide went 7 minutes between FGs.
Key started his first game since January 31 but was disgusting in the first half, shooting 1-of-3 with three turnovers in just 8 minutes of floor time.
Key had reached double digits in scoring four times off the bench, and responded with a team-high 16 points, five rebounds and a pair of assists.
Yahoo said Friday that the documents obtained in discovery during the investigation link current players including Michigan State's Miles Bridges, Duke's Wendell Carter and Alabama's Collin Sexton to potential benefits that would be violations of NCAA rules. Then with 44.5 remaining on the other end, the last thing Arkansas needed was to stop the clock up 71-66.
"I just played off instinct", Thomas said. Sexton knocked down both free throws to make it 71-68. The 9-0 Alabama run tied the game before a 3 put the Hogs back up. Gafford then fouled Sexton on a driving layup that he made, but he missed the bonus free throw to make it 73-70.
"I have to do a better job of coaching him up", Johnson said. Macon pulled down the rebound again and this time improved to 28 of 29 this season from the line after being fouled as the Hogs moved ahead 75-70 with 11.7 seconds left. Beard made the first and missed the second but it left Sexton heaving an off-balance shot from half court that went low off the bottom of the backboard, sealing Arkansas' win.More news: Root hails Stokes return
Arkansas led for 29:33, while Alabama led for 7:14, all early in the second half. The Tide would plate one more in the eighth to make it a 9-3 contest, the eventual final.