Alabama basketball team's rally falls short at Arkansas
Demetrius Jemison's technique was flawless. The University of Alabama forward boxed out his man, putting himself in position to rebound that key, missed free throw.
But the ball ricocheted off the rim, then off his unsuspecting fingertips, and out of bounds with 13 seconds left.
Instead of a final chance to clinch a gutsy comeback, the Crimson Tide was left with a 71-67 overtime loss to Arkansas in front of an announced crowd of 19,153 at Bud Walton Arena Sunday.
Instead of taking advantage of two missed foul shots by Razorback Patrick Beverley, Alabama could only watch as Charles Thomas made two of his own to ice it.
"That's a horrible feeling to know I could've given my team another opportunity to tie the game or possibly win it," Jemison said. "To come up short like this, it always hurts."
Coach Mark Gottfried was adamant that Jemison's miscue did not lose the game, that he did "everything right. He just didn't grab the ball."
The same could be said of the Crimson Tide (11-6, 0-2 Southeastern Conference).
Faced with foul trouble to starters Mykal Riley and Jemison, and bogged down in a gruesome shooting performance (35 percent from the field), Alabama still found a way to come back from being down 11 points with 11 minutes left.
Gottfried unleashed a zone defense, holding Arkansas (13-3, 2-0) to just eight more points in regulation. Riley's 3-pointer with 20 seconds left tied the game.
"It was a play coach called, a double screen, and I just had to pick the side to go," said Riley, the Pine Bluff, Ark., native who had 16 points in front of friends and family. "I picked the right side. I knew it was good. I thought we had momentum going into overtime."
Riley gave his team its final lead, 64-62 with 1:49 left in the extra period. But a 3-pointer by Hogs point guard Gary Ervin took it back for good.
"I missed a lot of open shots," said Ervin, the senior who was 4 of 13 from the field. "I got them when they counted, though."
Alabama players were stuck on the question of what to take away from Sunday's game.