NIT Selection Committee members must be shaking their heads. Surely the second roundof the tournament would include a match of those schools that had played for the College Football Playoff national championship a couple of months ago. Alabama was set up at home against Richmond and Clemson was hosting Oakland.
But a funny thing happened. The second round game will feature Oakland vs. Richmond.
Alabama lost on its first round game to Richmond, 71-64, not long after Clemson had given up 50 second half points in losing to Oakland by 74-69.
Alabama’s season ended on a curious note as the Crimson Tide offense seemed befuddled by the Spiders defense, while the motion of the Richmond offense found Bama defenders a step behind much of the night in Coleman Coliseum.
The Tide took an early lead in the second half after trailing for most of the first, but a turnover (Bama had eight in each half, leading to 20 Richmond points) and a fast break score put the Spiders back in front and Alabama could never recover.
With two minutes to play, Alabama had a chance to pull it out, trailing 64-61. But on what seemed to be a Tide fast break opportunity, an offensive foul killed the chance and Richmond answered with a field goal and free throw and Bama could never recover.
Alabama scored only three points in the final 5:15, a Corban Collins trey that cut the Richmond lead to 67-64 with just under 30 seconds to play.
Richmond shot the ball well, making 28-52 field goals (53.8 per cent) and the Spiders were good on 7-18 three-pointers (38.9 per cent), but only 8-11 on free throws (72.7 per cent). Alabama was only 25-60 from the field (41.7 per cent) and 7-24 on three-point tries (29.2 per cent), but did make all 7 of its free throws.
Five of Alabama’s made treys were by Collins, who was 5-10 and led Alabama with 19 points.
Alabama won the boards, out-rebounding Richmond by 33-27 and also leading in second chance points with a 16-3 margin. Bola Olaniyan led all rebounders with 7.
While the Spiders were getting 20 points off Bama turnovers, the Tide was able to get only 9 points off Richmond’s 12 errors.
Both teams did a lot of scoring in close, Alabama 37 points in the paint, Richmond 32.
Alabama’s bench scored 35 points while the Spiders did not get a point from a sub.
In addition to the 19 by Collins, the only other Tider in double figures was Dazon Ingram with 11. Richmond was led by ShawnDré Jones with 22, followed by T.J. Cline with 15, DéMont Buckingham with 14, and Khwan Fore with 11.
Two things were obvious from the start of the game: 1.) Alabama was very sloppy with the basketball with eight turnovers; and 2.) Richmond Coach Chris Mooney had learned his craft well in his playing days at Princeton. The Spiders were excellent on finding ways to get the ball to the open man inside for layups. Richmond scored four three-pointers, one shot of about eight feet, and two free throws. The other 20 hafltime points came on layups, drives and backdoors.
Bama took an early 5-0 lead, but Richmond went ahead by 10-9 and Alabama did not get it back. The game was tied a couple of times, but the Spiders had a lead of nine points at 36-27.
A Riley Norris trey and a Bola Olaniyan putback of his own missed layup were the final five points of the half to pull the Tide to within four points, Richmond leading 36-32.
TIDE NOTES: Alabama started its usual starting lineup oif late, point guard Dazon Ingram, wings Riley Norris and Braxton Key, and inside players Jimmie Taylor and Bola Olaniyan.
The NIT this year is playing with experimental rules, which is how the NCAA judges whether such rules might be implemented for college basketball.
The most notable of the rules concerned the use of 10-minute segments insofar as the foul situation is concerned, and the elimination of the one-and-one bonus free throw. During a segment, each team is allowed four fouls (personal and/or technical) and beginning with the fifth foul, the opposing team is awarded two free throws. At the end of the segment, the team fouls revert to zero.
Three is no actual play stoppage at the 10-minute mark of either the first of second half.
A foul in the act of shooting, a flagrant foul, or technical foul calling for two free throws is not affected by the four-foul limit.
In an overtime, the foul limit is three before the two-shot penalty.
The shot clock is also affected by an experimental rule. When play is interrupted by a non-shooting personal foul in the front court, a technical foul against the defense in the front court, or play stopped for a bleeding player or blood on a uniform, the shot clock will be at the point when play was stopped or reset to 20 seconds, whichever is greater.
Richmond’s roster includes starting guard Khwan Fore, a 6-0 guard who played at Lee High School in Huntsville. He came into the game averaging 11 points per game, one of four Spiders in double figures.
The loss kept Alabama (19-15) from reaching the 20-win mark. Bama has not had a 20-win season since 2012-13. Richmond is now 21-12.
Bama is now 13-4 in NIT games played in Coleman Coliseum. Bama had won 8 of the last 9 coming into Tuesday’s game.
The win was Richmond’s first against Alabama in 4 games all-time.
The Tide is now 4-0 all-time vs. Richmond.
Alabama played in the NIT for the 15th time and the fifth time in the last seven years. Bama is 24-18 now all-time in NIT action.