FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — Jaylen Barford has spent much of his first season at Arkansas earning his way into more of a leading role.
The junior, who led the nation in junior-college scoring a year ago, appears to be finally hitting his stride for the Razorbacks — who are intent on returning to the NCAA Tournament this season.
Fueled by 13 points by Barford, all coming in the second half, Arkansas (17-5, 6-3 Southeastern Conference) ran away from Alabama late for an 87-68 win on Wednesday night.
The game marked the eighth time in nine outings Barford has scored in double figures for the Razorbacks, and it featured a second-half outburst in which the guard scored nine straight points at one point in little over a minute.
After averaging 26.2 points a year ago in junior college, that kind of output is nothing new for Barford — even if it came after a lackluster first half.
"I tend to do that a lot, actually," Barford said. "Sometimes I get caught sleeping, like in the first half maybe, and I've just got to wake myself up or get woken up by somebody else and just push it and keep being aggressive."
Dusty Hannahs added 19 points in 16 minutes off the bench for Arkansas, which matched its best start to the season in the last 19 years with the win. The Razorbacks equaled the 22-game start to the season of the 2014-15 team that went on to win 27 games and finish second in the SEC.
Moses Kingsley finished with 15 points for Arkansas, while Daryl Macon had 12 and Manuale Watkins 10, but it was Barford who ignited the Razorbacks in the second half.
"In the second half, he made an effort to kind of take over a little bit and orchestrate a lot of things that took place out on the floor," Arkansas coach Mike Anderson said.
Dazon Ingram scored 14 points to lead the Crimson Tide (13-8, 6-3), which has now lost nine of its last 10 games in Bud Walton Arena, while Braxton Key added 12 and Ar'Mond Davis 10 in the loss.
Alabama entered the game last in the SEC in scoring (69.1 points per game), and those offensive challenges continued in a first half in which it shot only 40 percent (10 of 25) and trailed 35-27 at halftime.
The Crimson Tide led in the early going, aided by Arkansas hitting only two of its first 11 shots, but the Razorbacks used a 21-6 run to go up 28-17 and never trailed again.
"From the jump, they dominated us today," Alabama coach Avery Johnson said. "... This game is not really indicative of our team or our season, but give them credit. We never really had a chance to get our defense set."
Alabama: The Crimson Tide entered the game having won four of its last five games, including road wins at LSU and Georgia. However, Alabama was outmatched on Wednesday night — committing 18 turnovers that led to 28 points for Arkansas.
Arkansas: The win continues the longest current winning streak in the SEC for the Razorbacks, who have won five straight league games. Arkansas suffered a humiliating 99-71 loss at Oklahoma State in nonconference action on Saturday, but it rejuvenated its NCAA Tournament hopes with Wednesday's blowout win.
Hannahs finished 7-of-9 shooting and 5 of 6 on 3-pointers, helping Arkansas hit 11 3-pointers overall in the win. The senior matched his season high for 3-pointers, and he did so despite missing much of the first half with two fouls — leading to the limited minutes in the game.
Alabama: Returns home to host Auburn on Saturday.
Arkansas: Razorbacks are at Missouri on Saturday.