Mark Sears, frontcourt guide No. 4 Alabama to thrilling 84-69 victory over No. 15 Arkansas

Mathey Gibson, Staff Reporter


On Wednesday, No. 4 Alabama defeated the Arkansas Razorbacks 84-69 behind the wings of three superstar newcomers: Brandon Miller, Mark Sears and Noah Clowney.  

Coming into the game, the Razorbacks (12-4, 1-3 SEC) had never lost in Fayetteville to a ranked SEC opponent as a ranked team itself since joining the conference in 1991. That all changed after an explosive second half from the Crimson Tide (14-2, 4-0 SEC) which saw Nate Oats’ squad outscore Arkansas 51-36.  

After being held scoreless and not getting a shot off over the game’s first 20 minutes, freshman sensation Brandon Miller exploded for 14 points in the second half, drilling two clutch threes down the stretch and catching fire at the just right time.  

“They did a really good job on Brandon Miller for most of the game, and then he shook loose right at the right time,” Oats said after the game. “I think he’s grown up. In the past, when he couldn’t get a shot, he’d get a little frustrated. But when they’re going to play him like that, it opens the floor up for everybody else. If they’re just going to lock onto him, there’s more space on the floor for everybody else, and we were able to take advantage of that.” 

Leading Alabama in the scoring department was guard Mark Sears, who finished with 26 points on 7-for-16 shooting and drilled all 10 shots of his shots at the charity stripe.  

It was an efficient night for Noah Clowney, who finished with 15 points on 5-for-6 shooting, nailing three out of four shots from downtown. 

A freshman from Roebuck, South Carolina, Clowney continues to climb on NBA draft boards, currently being slated as a late first-round prospect. 

Unfortunately for both teams, the whistle was blowing all night, with the Crimson Tide racking up 22 fouls to the Razorbacks’ 23. While Alabama managed to keep key cogs from fouling out, Arkansas wasn’t as lucky — Anthony Black and Makhi Mitchell tacked on five a piece.  

“That’s a tough road victory” Oats said. “I think we snapped a 17-game home winning streak. I think it’s been 30 years since they lost to a ranked team as a ranked team. So there’s a lot of things that hadn’t been done in this building for a while that guys did well. We’ve got a talented group.” 

After a dominant road win versus a top-15 opponent, the fourth-year head coach knows it’s important to reset focus each week. 

“I couldn’t be more proud of our guys,” Oats said. “Continue to get better every game. We just got to keep getting a little bit better every game, staying in this hunt for the SEC championship.” 

Riding a five-game winning streak, the red-hot Crimson Tide will now set its sights on a rivalry matchup with the LSU Tigers on Saturday inside Coleman Coliseum.  

Tipoff for No. 4 Alabama vs. LSU is set for Saturday, Jan. 14, at 3 p.m. CT on ESPN. 

Questions or comments? Email Blake Byler (Sports Editor) at [email protected]