Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

No. 16 Alabama basketball battles back to beat Arkansas in overtime thriller

CW/ Elijah McWhorter
Alabama forward Nick Pringle jumps to score against Arkansas on March 9 in Coleman Coliseum.

In the final game played in Coleman Coliseum this season, it was the seniors who willed Alabama men’s basketball to a 92-88 victory on senior day. The Crimson Tide’s six seniors combined for 76 of Alabama’s 96 points.  

Senior guard Latrell Wrightsell Jr. stepped up to save what could be his final game in Coleman Coliseum, hitting a 3-pointer to tie the game with 21 seconds remaining.  

“I didn’t really know the score,” Wrightsell said. “I just stepped up and made the shot. … I’ve put in a lot of work. I’m just happy to be back out there and do something for my team.” 

Wrightsell had previously missed four games with a head injury before returning against Florida on March 5.  

Up until Wrightsell’s big shot, the Crimson Tide had trailed the entire contest.  

From the jump, Arkansas’ defense was not giving Alabama an inch. The Razorbacks were blocking shots and creating steals with ease, allowing them to create a double-digit deficit that the Crimson Tide would be battling back from all game.  

Alabama’s offensive struggles from its two previous contests continued to haunt the team for much of the game. But after trailing by as many as 15, points, the Crimson Tide was able to put together a 7-0 run at the end of the first half to cut the Razorback lead to just 6 points going into the locker room. 

As the second half began, it began to look more like an Alabama football game, as the referees’ whistles put a stop to play during seemingly every other possession. The Crimson Tide had a stretch where it was called for four fouls in just under two minutes, much to the dismay of the Coleman Coliseum crowd, who disagreed with the referees’ assessments to say the least.  

But, like the first half, it was a game of catch-up for Alabama all the way to the end. The Crimson Tide managed to turn the game into a single-possession game on several occasions in the half but was unable to get the defensive stops necessary to tie or take the lead.  

Unlike much of this season, though, Alabama was able to step up when it needed to most on both ends of the floor.   

As time began to run out on the Crimson Tide, senior forward Grant Nelson hit one of his biggest shots of the season with just over a minute remaining to cut Arkansas’ lead to just 3.  

After securing a stop on the defensive end, Wrightsell hit his shot to tie the game, before Alabama got another stop to send the game to overtime.  

While the seniors dominated much of this one, freshman forward Sam Walters would be the hero in overtime for the Crimson Tide. Walters scored 7 of his 10 points in the extra period, including a slam dunk to put the Razorbacks away.  

“Whatever the team needs for me to do, I’ll do,” Walters said. “I just want to win. Overtime was really fun. Anytime I get a chance to play with my brothers, it’s really fun.”  

Guard Mark Sears led the Crimson Tide in scoring in what could be his final game in Coleman Coliseum. He finished with 22 points and six assists. He reflected on his time at Alabama postgame.  

“From being a kid in Muscle Shoals, I never thought I would be playing in my home state on a major basketball team. … I’m very glad to be with the Crimson Tide.”  

With this win, the Crimson Tide has locked in a position as the second or third seed in the SEC tournament, allowing the team to have almost a week of rest before playing again on Friday in Nashville.  

“This is big,” Oats said postgame. “Our guys knew what was at stake. […] We’ll see if we can’t get a rematch with Tennessee on Sunday [March 17].” 

Alabama will look to repeat as SEC champions in Nashville next week, opening play on Friday. The time and opponent for that game are to be determined. 

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