FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) -- Stan Heath's first Arkansas team
showed off some newfound confidence by jumping on (No. 20 ESPN/USA Today, No. 22 AP) Alabama early and never letting up Monday night.
The Razorbacks led by at least 10 most of the game and freshman
Jonathan Modica had his second straight 26-point outing in an 81-70
victory at Bud Walton Arena.
Arkansas (7-11, 2-5 Southeastern Conference) stuck close with
Florida last week before losing by 10 and it has won two straight
"I think our team is getting better and we're starting to get
better chemistry with our starting lineups and our seven-eight-man
rotation,'' Heath said. "We've identified Pookie (Modica) as our
go-to player and we're trying to get him shots.''
Modica made 8-of-19 from the field, including 4-of-6 3-pointers,
and he consistently beat Alabama's perimeter defense to the basket
for layups and trips to the free throw line.
"I feel like I've been in a groove all year, but I just feel
like I haven't been in attack mode all year,'' said Modica, who
entered the game with a team-leading 11.6 points per game. "I feel
I can be (the go-to guy), but all those guys can be go-to guys. We
all can take over a game.''
Alabama (13-6, 3-5) lost its fifth straight game on the road and
dropped to 2-5 since beating Arkansas at home Jan. 8 when it was
the No. 4 team in the country.
Arkansas shot 48 percent (25 of 52) from the field, including
9-of-16 from 3-point range.
Senior forward Carl Baker came into the game 1-of-4 on
3-pointers, but he hit three jumpers, including a 3-pointer, early
in the second half to give the Razorbacks a 46-26 with about 16 minutes left. Baker finished with 12 points.
"Carl really played good tonight and that was good for Carl
because he's been struggling,'' Modica said. "We all know he's
capable of doing that, it's just that tonight he carried it over
from practice to the game.''
Those three shots were Baker's only shots from the field during
Erwin Dudley, who led Alabama with 29 points after scoring just
two in the first half, had six straight points to pull the Crimson
Tide with 16 points with about eight minutes to go in the game.
Arkansas quickly came back with consecutive 3-pointers by Michael
Jones and Modica to make the score 61-39.
Alabama went on an 11-3 run, sparked by six points from Dudley,
to make the score 64-50 with 3:55 to go.
Modica completed a three-point play with 3:06 remaining to push
the lead back to 17. Alabama then scored the next seven points,
capped off on a steal and layup by Antoine Pettway, to make the
score 67-57 with 1:51 to go.
Arkansas made 14-of-18 free throws the rest of the way to seal
the victory. Dionisio Gomez added 12 points and nine rebounds for
The Razorbacks opened the game with an 11-1 run and the lead
hovered around 10 points for most of the first half.
"We had a lack of aggressiveness early on in the first half
that put us down early,'' Alabama coach Mark Gottfried said. "We
just weren't attacking and that was extremely frustrating.''
The Razorbacks were 5-of-8 on 3-pointers during the half. The
Crimson Tide made just 5-of-26 from the field in the first half and
19-of-57 for the game.
"We were a very aggressive team to start the game, offensively
and defensively,'' Heath said. "When they pressured us, we looked
to attack the rim and we didn't hesitate at all.''
Mo Williams, Alabama's leading scorer at 15.7 points per game,
fouled out with 1:34 to go with seven points.
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