FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — Alabama keeps finding ways to keep itself in the NCAA tournament picture, suspensions or no suspensions.
Rodney Cooper scored 17 points Thursday night as depleted Crimson Tide held on for a 79-68 win at Arkansas.
The win is the second straight for the Crimson Tide, which played without leading scorers JaMychal Green and Tony Mitchell for the fourth straight game due to suspensions.
Alabama (18-9, 7-6 Southeastern Conference) trailed 39-35 late in the first half before going on a 19-2 run to go up 54-41. It then was able to fight off a late run by the Razorbacks.
Andrew Steele scored 15 points for the Crimson Tide, while Nick Jacobs and Trevor Releford had 14 each.
The loss for the Razorbacks (17-11, 5-8) is their second straight at home after opening the season 17-0 in Bud Walton Arena. BJ Young led Arkansas with 21 points and five assists.
Alabama lost its first two games without Green and Mitchell, falling at LSU and at home to No. 12 Florida. However, the Crimson Tide bounced back in its last game, a 62-50 win over Tennessee last Saturday.
Green was reinstated earlier this week, but Alabama coach Anthony Grant elected to keep the senior out at least one more game. Making matters worse in the first half against the Razorbacks, freshman Trevor Lacey went to the bench with a leg injury after scoring eight early points.
Arkansas appeared as though it was ready to take advantage of the missing Alabama pieces early, taking a 33-21 lead after Julysses Nobles' second 3-pointer of the half. The Razorbacks opened the game by hitting their first six 3-pointers, including 3 of 3 by Young, and were 8 of 11 from behind the arc in the first half.
The freshman, who scored a career-high 31 points in Arkansas' season-worst 98-68 loss to Florida the last time out, hit his first four shots against the Crimson Tide and scored 17 points in the first half.
However, after Young's fourth 3-pointer of the half put the Razorbacks up 37-31, Arkansas went 9:13 without a field goal.
Alabama was more than ready to pounce.
The Crimson Tide trailed 39-35 before closing the half on a 10-2 run. It then opened the second half on a 9-0 run, capped by a drive and basket by Cooper — who finished in double figures for only the third time this season.
By the time Arkansas finally hit another field goal, Mardracus Wade's basket on the fast break, Alabama led 54-43 and had taken control.
The Razorbacks closed to within 71-66 in the closing minutes after a three-point play by Wade, but the Crimson Tide held on late.
Alabama equaled its season high in shooting percentage, hitting 27 of 49 (55.1 percent) from the field. The Crimson Tide went 6 of 11 on 3-pointers.