FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — It had been nearly a quarter-century since Arkansas had played a ranked team at home, let alone beaten one there.
No. 20 Arkansas ended both those droughts Wednesday night, beating sixth-ranked Alabama, 81-66.
The Razorbacks, once staples atop the Southeastern Conference standings, hadn’t beaten a ranked team in Fayetteville while they, too, had been ranked since Nolan Richardson was coaching in the late 1990s. That was five coaches and 23 years ago.
Coach Eric Musselman, in his second year with the Razorbacks (18-5, 10-4 SEC), had to change clothes after the game. The celebration was that wet after the Crimson Tide had won the teams’ first meeting by 31 points in January. Arkansas hasn’t lost an SEC game since.
“We’ve run eight in a row and we lost a home game that we didn’t even get to play and we play well at home. I would say this team is playing really good basketball,” Musselman said.
A 17-2 run in the second half was the death blow. Freshman Jaylin Williams scored 10 of his season high 13 points during the stretch and Arkansas (18-5, 10-4 SEC) held Alabama (18-6, 13-2) to the lone two points, a John Petty Jr. jumper, over a stretch of almost nine minutes, turning a six-point deficit to a nine-point lead with less than 10 minutes to play.
Williams grabbed another eight rebounds and finished plus-30 in his 22 minutes. Musselman said he ran more plays for Williams and fellow freshman Moses Moody on Wednesday than he had in any other game all year.
“[Williams] is a really confident freshman who keeps getting better. There’s not many teams that are relying on three freshmen the way that we are,” Musselman said. “We’re not just relying on them in the SEC, we’re relying on them to win, we’re relying on them to score baskets.”
Moody finished with a game-high 22 points, 16 of which came from the free-throw line. Justin Smith (11), J.D. Notae (12) and Jalen Tate (12) joined them in double figures.
All of Tate’s points came in the first half and he didn’t get to finish the second. Arkansas’ big run clearly flustered Alabama, resulting in Petty picking up a technical foul after arguing a no-call with 6:55 left. Tate and Alabama’s Javon Quinerly picked up coincidental technicals for what appeared to be excessive chatter a couple minutes later and then Tate and Petty were called for their second each with 1:01 remaining, resulting in dual ejections.
A lot of the frustration came from Alabama’s hot and cold nature throughout the game. The Crimson Tide missed their first nine 3-pointers but would follow by making eight of its next 10, including the first basket of the second half, giving them their first lead since the opening five minutes of the game. Arkansas countered with its big stretch to put the game away.
Jordan Bruner led Alabama with 14 points, 12 of which came in the first half. Petty finished with 12.
“We stunk last game [against Alabama],” Musselman said. “You gotta bounce back. I thought we bounced back. You play the sixth-ranked team in the country and you beat them, it‘s a heck of a win for the program, I can tell you that.”
No. 11 Florida State 88, Miami 71
CORAL GABLES, Fla. — Sardaar Calhoun scored a career-high 16 points and Florida State coasted to a win over Miami.
The Seminoles (14-3, 10-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) were never threatened after a 19-2 run early in the first half. Anthony Polite hit consecutive 3-pointers and Scottie Barnes’ jumper with 10:32 remaining capped the surge and increased Florida State’s lead to 27-8.
RaiQuan Gray had 12 points and 13 rebounds for the conference leading Seminoles, who have won nine of their last 10. Polite finished with 12 points and Balsa Koprivica was Florida State’s fourth double figure scorer with 13 points.
Miami (7-14, 3-13) has lost eight of its last nine. Isaiah Wong scored 29 points for the Hurricanes.
No. 13 Creighton 77, DePaul 53
OMAHA, Neb. — Marcus Zegarowski, Christian Bishop and Denzel Mahoney scored 13 points apiece and Creighton made fast work of DePaul.
The Bluejays (17-5, 13-4 Big East) have won seven of their last eight games, including four straight.
DePaul (4-11, 2-11) sustained its most lopsided loss since a 38-point defeat to Providence last March.
Creighton was playing its first game in 10 days because of a regularly scheduled break. The Bluejays sputtered a bit early before finding their rhythm, and they closed the half on a 21-5 run to lead 34-23.
Creighton scored 11 of the first 13 points of the second half to put the game away, with the lead ballooning to as many as 30 points.
N.C. State 68, No. 15 Virginia 61
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — DJ Funderburk scored nine of his 14 points in the second half and North Carolina State opened a big lead and held off Virginia 68-61 for its fourth straight Atlantic Coast Conference road victory.
Cam Hayes led the Wolfpack with 16 points and Shakeel Moore had 12 for N.C. State (11-9, 7-8 ACC), which last won four in a row on the road in the last two games of 1980-81 season and the first two the following season.
Sam Hauser led Virginia with 21 points and Jay Huff had 19 points and 11 rebounds, but the Cavaliers (15-6, 11-4) lost their third straight for the first time since the 2016-17 season.
No. 25 Tennessee 70, Vanderbilt 58
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Victor Bailey Jr. made 5-of-8 3-pointers and finished with 21 points as No. 25 Tennessee beat in-state rival Vanderbilt to sweep the season series.
Tennessee (16-6, 9-6 Southeastern Conference) won its eight straight in the series and 10th in the last 11 games between the teams.
Jaden Springer added 20 points for the Vols, and Yves Pons had 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Vanderbilt (6-13, 2-11) lost its third straight with Scotty Pippen Jr., the SEC’s second-leading scorer averaging 20.5 points a game sidelined by injury along with Dylan Disu, named the SEC player of the week after putting up back-to-back double-doubles last week. Clevon Brown also missed a second straight game.