TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Trevor Releford closed his final Alabama home game with a milestone basket and a surprisingly one-sided victory.
Releford scored 24 points and moved into the Crimson Tide’s top-5 in career scoring with a late 3-pointer in Saturday’s 83-58 victory against Arkansas on Saturday.
The Tide (13-18, 7-11 Southeastern Conference) capped a disappointing regular season by dominating from start to finish a team that appeared to be playing its way into the NCAA tournament. Arkansas (21-10, 10-8) was held to a season-low in points three days after pouring in 110 to rout Ole Miss for its sixth-straight win.
Releford said he was focused on winning not sentiment.
“I thought before the game I’d be sad and crying, but I wanted the game so bad,” he said. “I just wanted to win, so I don’t think I cried and did all that stuff.”
Shannon Hale had 18 points for Alabama. Levi Randolph scored 11 points and Jimmie Taylor had 10 on 5-of-5 shooting. Releford also had four assists and three steals.
Rashad Madden led Arkansas with 19 points, including five 3-pointers. Bobby Portis scored 17 after producing 35 points in the previous meeting.
Alabama hit 29 of 53 shots (54.7 percent) while holding Arkansas to 15 of 48 (31.3 percent). Alabama also outscored the Razorbacks 42-6 in the paint and dominated in rebounds 41-25.
“I guess in basketball, you see all kinds of things,” Arkansas coach Mike Anderson said. “As a coach, with the way our team was playing, I just didn’t see this coming. But I knew it was going to be a tough game, because Alabama plays well at home.
“When you have a guy like Trevor Releford — I love that kid. I’ve known him for quite a while, and he had a great senior night. He kind of put the team on his shoulders, and those guys follow his lead.”
Bama’s only scholarship senior, Releford exited shortly after moving past Jerry Harper for fifth on the Tide’s career scoring list with 1,862 points. He left his final home game to a big standing ovation.
“What more fitting way to move into the top-5 in all-time in school history than to get a 3?” Alabama coach Anthony Grant said, citing Releford’s improved 3-point shooting over the past four years.
The Tide earned a bye into Thursday in the SEC tournament with the victory and opens against LSU. Arkansas plays the Auburn-South Carolina winner.
It was a potentially costly stumble in the postseason hopes of Arkansas, which hadn’t trailed by more than 20 points all season. The Razorbacks’ previous scoring low was 65 points in a win over Alabama a month earlier.
“They just played harder than us in every aspect of the game,” Arkansas’ Coty Clarke said. “Senior night. They wanted to come beat us. They just beat us in every aspect of the game. They had more energy and effort.”
Teammate Kikko Haydar said the Razorbacks belong in the NCAA field but still have another tournament to worry about.
“Whoever wins the SEC tournament gets the automatic bid,” Haydar said. “That’s our focus.
“I definitely think we deserve a chance, but we don’t really talk about that,” he added.
The Tide improved to 7-2 in SEC games at Coleman Coliseum, where the Razorbacks have dropped seven in a row. It was a season-high in points for Alabama in SEC games.
Arkansas’ Anthlon Bell, who scored a career-high 23 against Ole Miss, was 0 for 5 and didn’t score.
Michael Qualls scored three points, nine below his season average.
The Razorbacks went cold after exploding for a 30-point win over Mississippi.
Alabama took a 39-16 halftime lead over Arkansas, which headed into halftime shooting just 4 of 23 from the field (17.4 percent).
The Razorbacks’ previous first-half scoring low was 24 in the February meeting with the Tide. This time they didn’t make a basket over the last 5:43 of the half.
Arkansas couldn’t come any closer than 19 after that.
Grant started walk-on senior Isiah Wilson for the first time, and he had five points. He joked that he should have started Wilson all along given the outcome.
“If we’re going to win by 25, yes,” Grant said. “What was I thinking?”