Hogs aim to keep head above water in regular-season finale at Alabama

It’s been 14 years since the Arkansas basketball team finished with an overall record below .500. Currently, at the break-even mark of 15-15, heading into Saturday’s regular-season finale at No. 16 Alabama, pride is still on the line.

The last time the Razorbacks finished with more losses than wins was under former Head Coach John Pelphrey, when they ended the season at 14-18 in 2009-10. The Mike Anderson-coached Hogs finished 16-16 in 2015-16.

A win against the Crimson Tide all be guarantees that Arkansas will finish at least 16-16, even with a first-round loss in next weekend’s SEC Tournament. A loss to Alabama on Saturday would force the Hogs into winning at least two games in the conference tournament, for a chance to break even. That could also change with any further postseason tournaments.

Arkansas, who is just 6-11 in SEC play, put on one of its best performances of the season in Wednesday’s 94-83 win over LSU, as the Razorbacks shot 60.8 percent from the field and senior Khalif Battle broke the SEC’s four-game scoring record.

Battle’s game-high 29 points left him one point short of being the first Razorback to ever score at least 30 points in four straight games. But it also game him 141 points over his past four outings, surpassing the previous four-game scoring total of 134, set by Kentucky’s Jodie Meeks in 2009.

Going into Wednesday’s game, Battle had put up a career-high 42 against Missouri, 36 against Vanderbilt and 34 in a slugfest loss to Kentucky.

“I always feel really confident,” Battle said following the LSU game. “I don’t think anyone can guard me one-on-one. Coach told me to go for those and-ones, where they had to make a decision whether to foul or just let me score.”

Although he is listed as a graduate senior, Battle still has two years of eligibility remaining after this season – thanks to COVID. Following the LSU win, he sounded like he was all in for at least one more season in Fayetteville, clarifying to the media that he had “another year left,” when asked about the Senior Night honors.

“I’m a Razorback,” he said. “I’m right here. I’m a Razorback. Ain’t nothing changed. I’m a Razorback until the end.”

Alabama (20-10, 12-5 SEC) comes in with three losses in its last four games, falling to No. 17 Kentucky, 117-95, before bouncing back with a 103-88 win over Ole Miss. But the Crimson Tide has dropped two straight – 81-74 at home to Tennessee and a 105-87 loss at Florida.

In the 68 previous meetings between the Hogs and Tide, Arkansas holds a slight 36-32 advantage in the all-time series. But the two programs are deadlocked at 29-29 since the Razorbacks joined the SEC in 1991.

The game will tip at 11 a.m. Saturday on ESPN, with Tom Hart and former Razorback Jimmy Dykes on the call.

Story originally appeared on Razorbacks Wire