Great Comeback Puts Tide Over Aggies

Alabama Coach Anthony Grant was asked in his final press conference before his final regular season game about reflections on the season. He declined the opportunity, saying his focus was on the upcoming game against Texas A&M and that then it would shift to the Southeastern Conference Tournament and the prospects for extending the season.

It is too early to say how far Alabama’s 2014-15 basketball season might extend, but when Anthony Grant finally does take time for reflection, it is likely that one of the fondest memories will be of that final regular season game when his team fought from a 14-point halftime deficit to an impressive 61-60 win over Texas A&M in College Station.

Alabama improved to 18-13 overall and 8-10 in SEC play with its season series sweep of A&M. The Aggies are now 20-10, 11-7. The SEC Tournament begins Wednesday in Nashville. Alabama, which is the ninth seed in the tournament, will play Thursday against either Florida or Vanderbilt.

(Editor’s Note: This report was late because there was not time to write and make the airplane back to Tuscaloosa Saturday afternoon.)

The Crimson Tide didn’t take the entire second half to catch up to the Aggies, who had led by 36-22 at intermission. In fact, the second period was not half over when Bama completed its task of making it a new game. Over the first nine minutes of the second period, Bama had outscored A&M by 21-6 to take a 43-42 lead.

Alabama, which had given up runs of 10-0 and 11-0 in the first half, answered with its own runs in the second half – 6-0 to start the second period, then 7-0 to pull close.

And close it was after Bama caught up. Alabama biggest lead was four points at 48-44, but the Aggies fought back. It was back-and-forth down the stretch, with both teams hitting clutch three-point shots. (The two combined for 10-24 shooting in the second half.) There were seven second half lead changes.

The last lead change came with 1:32 to play when Retin Obasohan made his fifth basket and 12th point – all of which came in the second half. Obasohan, who led four Tiders in double figures, had several excellent layups among tall defenders in his role in the comeback.

The Aggies had a last chance at victory, but the A&M beat-the-buzzer shot was no good and Alabama had its fourth SEC road win of the year – the most for the Crimson Tide since 2011.

Bama made only 9-28 first half field goal attempts (32.1 per cent); only 1-10 three-point shots; and only 3-8 free throws (37.5 per cent), which is how the Tide fell behind by 36-22 at intermission. But Alabama hit 14-24 (58.3 per cent) from the field, 5-11 (45.5 per cent) from beyond the arc, and 6-8 (75 per cent) on free throws in the second half, which is how Bama outscored the home team Aggies by 39-24 after halftime.

For the game, Alabama hit 23-52 (44.2 per cent) on field goals, 6-21 (28.6 per cent) on three-pointers, and 9-16 (56.3 per cent) on foul shots, while Texas A&M was 20-50 (40 per cent) on field goals, 8-24 (33.3 per cent) on treys, and 12-15 (80 per cent) on foul shots.

A&M had a slight edge in rebounding, 33-31, but Bama had a big advantage in second chance points, 16-2. The Tide also had the edge in points in the paint, 34-20, and in fast break points, 10-4. Turnovers were about even, 11 for Alabama, 12 for A&M, and so were points off turnovers, the Tide scoring 14, the Aggies 16.

Behind Obasohan in scoring for Bama were Jimmie Taylor, Levi Randolph, and Rodney Cooper with 11 each, and former walk-on Dakota Slaughter having his second consecutive eight-point game. Randolph had a team-high nine rebounds and Taylor had three of the Tide’s five blocked shots.

Jordan Green and Jalen Jones led the Aggies with 13 points each. Peyton Allen had 11.

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