By DENNIS A. BYRD
Arkansas News Bureau
NORTH LITTLE ROCK — A Jeff Peterson buzzer-beater to force overtime and tough inside play by Delvon Johnson were the biggest positives for Arkansas on Friday night as Alabama-Birmingham defeated the Razorbacks, 70-65, at Verizon Arena.
It was clear forward Marshawn Powell, who didn’t start but played most of the game, is still sufering foot problems. He broke a bone in the top of it over the summer in a pickup game at the local Y, but was pronounced healed. He did not play in two previous games after coach John Pelphrey said he was resting a sore foot. Powell limped on and off the court in the second half and overtime.
All five starters for UAB (4-1) scored in double figures, but it was the ball-handling of point guard Aaron Johnson, the shortest man on the court at 5-foot-8, who inspired the Blazers. He also was two-for-two from long distance and added a field goal and a couple of free throws for the winners. Jamarr Sanders, listed as No. 4 on the program but wearing No. 2 Friday evening, led all scorers with 19.
Arkansas (3-1) had a horrendous shooting night, hitting only 3-of-21 from behind the 3-point line and connecting on 25 of 66 from the field.
Johnson’s tough inside play produced 18 points and 13 rebounds, but he had little help. Rotnei Clarke, usually a sharpshooter from outside, hit only made only 2-of-9, and one of those came toward the end of overtime when the game was out of reach.
"Those guards made great shots," Pelphrey said.
Peterson hit only 1-of-4 from beyond the 3-point line, but the one put the game into overtime.
UAB’s Ovie Soko missed the second of two free throws, leaving the lead at 57-54 with 11 seconds left in regulation. A rebound and a timeout later, Peterson was looking for Clarke, but had to take a shot before time expired. From about halfway between the top of the key and the corner, he let it fly. It went through with .5 seconds showing and a desperation throw by UAB’s Cameron Moore wasn’t close.
The OT belonged to the Blazers. Johnson drove in for a layup, Peterson missed a pair of free throws for Arkansas, and Robert Williams buried a three, putting UAB up 62-57 with 3:53 left in the extra period. Peterson cut it to three on a jumper, but Moore hit his only 3-pointer to extend the Blazer lead to six.
After Marcus Britt hit one of two free throws, Soko’s layup and a free throw made it an 8-point lead. Clarke hit a running jumper from 10 feet and Soko added a pair of free throws, to keep the lead at eight. Clark’s 3-pointer with :04 seconds showing got it to the final margin.
Both teams were out of synch early, managing a total of 41 points in the first half.
Arkansas got off to a 7-0 lead, but it wasn’t pretty. Almost two minutes elapsed before the Razorbacks got on the board first on a layup from Johnson. On the next possession, Powell put up an air ball, which sort of typified the play of both teams early.
Arkansas was 1-of-13 from beyond the arc in the first stanza and make only a third of its 30 shots.
UAB scored its first point on a free throw at the the 15:38 mark.
Two Sugar Bowl representatives attended the game, played on the eve of Arkansas vs. LSU at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock. The winner could be in line for a Sugar Bowl berth, depending on what happens in the SEC championship games and perhaps other factors.