Stuart McNair

Avery Johnson, Jr., spurs Alabama in losing effort

Alabama’s next ‘home’ game will be Wednesday in Huntsville

There are certain things that Alabama’s basketball team does well when it wins. The Tide shoots as well or better than its opponent, ditto on rebounds. Bama has a better turnover margin, wins the scoring battle in the paint and on second chance points and after turnovers, breaks even on fast break, and gets more scoring from its bench than the other guys.

When it doesn’t, particularly against a good team, the result is something like Clemson 67, Alabama 54. In fact, that was the exact result Sunday at the Legacy Arena in Birmingham.

As a result, Alabama fell to 5-5 on the season while Clemson improved to 8-2.

Alabama continues with another “home” game on the road when the Crimson Tide hosts Arkansas State at 8 p.m. CST Wednesday at the Von Braun Center in Huntsville.

The Tide did not perform in any of those key areas needed for victory. Clemson outshot Bama from the field (24-55, 43.6 per cent to 16-50, 32 per cent), on three-point shots (9-22, 40.9 per cent to 3-20, 15 per cent), and Bama had 16 turnovers to 11 for Clemson.

No one could accuse Alabama of not playing hard to the finish. Sparked by Avery Johnson, Jr., in the second half, he Tide gave Clemson enough of a battle that the Tigers could not feel comfortable until the final couple of minutes.

Although Alabama trailed by a dozen at intermission, the Tide and Tigers were roughly even in the second half.

Bama’s second half problem that it couldn’t get over the hump in trying to come back against the Tigers. The Tide would cut the Clemson lead to the 10-point area, and then give up a little second half run to the Tigers. Alabama should have been used to those Clemson runs since the Tigers had a couple in the first half that really put the game in a tough comeback situation.

One such second half blitz came when the Tide cut the Clemson lead to 43-33, and then gave up back-to-back unguarded treys – a deficit that had been 10 points had grown to 16 in less than a minute.

Alabama did get that margin down to nine points in the final few minutes, but Clemson made some shots against desperation defense and also made some free throws.

Avery Johnson, Jr., was the only Alabama player in double figures, scloring 17 – 9 in the first half, 8 in the second. Shelton Mitchell led the Tigers with 18.

Alabama was in a big hole at intermission at 31-19, and the best thing about it was that ity could have been worse. The Tide was plagued by terrible shooting (6-23 for 26.1 per cent, including 1-6 on three-point shots, 16.7 per cent), turnovers (Bama had 12, Clemson 4 in the first half), and poor defense (allowing the Tigers to hit 13-31, that that was with some terrible shot selection).

The Tide had good opportunities early in the game, but after failing to take advantage of them the Tigers picked up the defensive intensity, shutting off almost any chance of inside penetration by Bama.

With just over 14s minutes to play, Alabama had a big play. Jimmie Taylor was awarded two free throws. He made the first, missed the second. But Braxton Key rebounded the miss and put it in for an unusual three-point trip and a 9-7 lead.

That play ended a 7-0 Clemson run after Bama had started out 6-0.

That lead lasted mere seconds as the Tigers got a three-pointer, and that was the beginning of a 15-0 Clemson run that lasted almost six minutes and put the Tigers lead out to 22-9.

From there the teams played even to intermission, Avery Johnson, Jr., three-pointer – the only one the Tide had in the first half – ending a nice fast break play on which Shanon Hale made a nice assist out to Johnson.

TIDE NOTES: Alabama’s starting lineup was forwards Bola Olaniyan and Braxton Key, center Donta Hall, and guards Dazon Ingram and Corban Collins.

Clemson now leads the all-time series, 6-4.

Bama is now 46-23 when playing in Birmingham.

96 Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE Sunday’s game was the Tide’s fourth against a South Carolina team this year, and the first Bama has lost. Earlier Alabama had defeated Coastal Carolina, Charleston Southern, and USC Upstate. Still on the schedule is South Carolina    

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