If Alabama coach David Hobbs' job status had still been an issue, the Crimson Tide's late-season run might have been able to save it.
Instead, Alabama already knows Hobbs and his staff will be let go at the end of the season. None of that stopped the Tide from playing for their coach.
Brian Williams scored 20 points on Saturday, including a free throw with 5.9 seconds left, as Alabama upset No. 12 Arkansas 65-63 to give Hobbs a victory in his last regular season game.
"Someone asked me if I remember my first game and I don't," Hobbs said. "But you always remember your last game like the way you remember your last girlfriend. This is the one game we wanted to remember."
Alabama (14-15, 6-10 Southeastern Conference) finished the regular season with three straight wins and four in its final five games. Nonetheless, Hobbs and his entire staff are being replaced at the end of the season.
"It was great to send coach Hobbs out with a win," Williams said. "We wanted to make this game memorable for him and for ourselves,"
The Tide did that by spoiling the Razorbacks' chance to share the SEC West crown with Mississippi and take a No. 1 seed in the conference tournament. Instead, Arkansas will be the No. 2 seed.
"Coach Hobbs gave us a lot of confidence to go out and play hard, to play with heart," said Demetrius Alexander, who had 16 points and 14 rebounds."After the game, we thanked him for standing by us and for being our coach as long as he could."
After the game, Arkansas coach Nolan Richardson said Hobbs was a scapegoat for Alabama's 4-7 football season.
"He did a great job for a guy who doesn't have a job," Richardson said. "Losing the game is better than winning the game and feeling miserable. That is the tragedy of victory."
Richardson credited Hobbs for staying with the team despite being fired on Feb. 2.
"If Arkansas fired Nolan Richardson, I'd be gone that day," he said. "I don't agree with Alabama's decision at all."
Trailing 64-61 with less than 10 seconds left, Arkansas' Tarik Wallace missed a 3-point shot. Nick Davis grabbed the rebound and scored on the put-back to make it 64-63 with seven seconds left.
After a timeout, Arkansas (22-7, 11-5) fouled Williams, who made the first of two shots with 5.9 seconds remaining to make it 65-63. Kareem Reid then took the ball down the court himself and fired off a 3 that missed at the buzzer.
"It's real disappointing to lose the West after a three-game lead," Reid said. "We took the title away from ourselves."
Williams and Alexander combined for 17 of the Tide's final 19 points. Trailing 52-45 with 5:53 to play, Alexander made two free throws and Williams scored seven straight points to tie it at 5 with 3:12 to go.
Derek Hood's jumper at 2:54 gave the Razorbacks a 57-55 lead, but Alexander tied it again. Hood then made the first of two free throws at 2:25 to give Arkansas a 58-57 lead, its last of the game.
Pat Bradley led Arkansas with 17 points, Wallace had 14.
Arkansas led 29-22 at halftime, but Alabama opened the second-half with a 15-4 run to take a 37-33 lead with 14:07 to play.
The Razorbacks reeled off a run of their own to retake the lead, 52-45, at 5:53.
Alabama outrebounded Arkansas 40-30, and the Razorbacks made only 9-of-21 free throws, including 2-of-6 in the final three minutes.
"We've got to be the worst free-throw shooting team out there," Richardson said."But I'm still really pleased with these kids. I thought this was the most overachieving ball club we've had."
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