Where to start? Alabama’s first half in scoring 18 points? Careless turnovers at critical times down the stretch? No apparent plan when trailing by four points with the ball in the final 30 seconds?
Or maybe just that karma of a team rising up and getting the job done when it doesn’t have its best player. Georgia was in that situation and took a 60-55 win over Alabama in Coleman Coliseum Thursday night.
The loss could prove costly both in Southeastern Conference Tournament seedings and in where – if anywhere – Alabama might be playing after the SEC tourney. Bama is now 16-11 overall and 9-6 in SEC games. Georgia improved to 16-12 overall, 7-8 in the conference.
Alabama has a quick turnaround after a Thursday night game, going to Texas A&M to take on the Aggies at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. The Tide will have its final home game hosting Ole Miss next Wednesday.
After scoring only 18 points in the first half and trailing by 12 at intermission, Bama fought back to trail by only one point with nine minutes to play and to be within one point four more times, the last time with 1:12 to play.
But Alabama suffered a turnover that led to a fast break layup when trailing by one; threw it away leading to a foul on a Georgia layup try and two free throws; and finally, trailing by four with under 30 seconds to play, once again suffering a turnover that led to the Bulldogs’ final free throw and the eventual final score.
Alabama got a strong performance off the bench from Ar’Mond Davis, who scored 17 points on 7-18 shooting and 3-9 on treys. He had 10 points at the half, but failed to score in the final 12 minutes. Braxton Key scored 16 and Donta Hall had 11. Both Key and Hall had 9 rebounds.
Georgia’s J.J. Frazier lit the Tide up for 28 points, 24 more than he had when Alabama was an 80-60 winner in Athens earlier in the season.
Alabama managed only 33.3 per cent shooting from the field, 21-63, including only 4-23 on three-point tries (17.4 per cent). The Tide made 9-12 free throws (75 per cent). Georgia hit 23-49 from the field (46.9 per cent), 3-10 on threes (all in the second half) for 30 per cent, and 11-16 on free throws (68.8 per cent).
Alabama won big on the boards, outrebounding Georgia 42-30. Bama had 17 offensive boards and had a 17-7 advantage in second chance points and the Tide outscored Georgia 30-26 in the paint.
Georgia scored 11 points off the Tide’s 10 turnovers, while Bama got only 4 points off Georgia’s 7.
For the second time in eight days, Alabama managed to score only 18 points in a terrible first half of basketball. And this wasn’t Missouri the Tide was playing. Georgia, even without its best player (Yante Maten was out with injury), had hit 12-23 field goals while holding Alabama to 7-31 and the Bulldogs had a 30-18 lead.
Bama never led in the first half and the only time the game was tied was at 2-2. Alabama’s 2 was dramatic as the Tide had almost let the shot clock wind down and Braxton Key was on his knees on the floor. He threw up the desperation shot that went in. His next five shots, all from an upright position, missed.
It could have been worse were it not for Ar’Mond Davis, who had come off the bench to score 10 points – including making a steal and a slam dunk at the buzzer to keep Georgia from having a chance to have doubled the score on Bama.
Alabama was particularly cold on three-point tries, missing its first seven before Davis came in and hit two in quick succession. But at the half it was 3-13 for Bama from behind the arc.
Alabama’s starting lineup had 5 points in the first half – 3 by Donta Hall, 2 by Braxton Key, and none by Riley Norris, Bola Olaniyan, and Dazon Ingram (who played only 7 minutes because of foul trouble). Ingram got on the board with 6 in the second half, but Norris and Olaniyan had doughnuts.
NOTES: Alabama went with its regular “big” starting lineup with Dazon Ingram at point guard, Riley Norris and Braxton Key on the wings, and post players Donta Hall and Bola Olaniyan.
After scoring 18 points in the first 20 minutes, and trailing 30-18 at halftime, Bama had scored 18 more points just 7:05 into the second half and pulled to within 4 points at 40-36.
The game was the first this year in which Alabama held the opponent to 62 points or fewer and lost. Bama had been 13-0 in such games.
Trying to predict the outcome of a final week and a half of SEC basketball is risky, but Alabama’s road to a possible double bye in the SEC Tournament is not a huge longshot with the Tide having to play two road games (Texas A&M and Tennessee) and having Ole Miss at home. The Tide was at best an outside shot for the NCAA Tournament and likely now will be waiting to see if there is a possibility for the NIT.
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