Good Year Ends Badly

On Saturday, Alabama basketball followers had to focus on what a good season it has been. With a choice prior to this season, few in the Crimson Tide camp would not have been pleased to take a 27-8 record and Southeastern Conference championship. Unfortunately, it was hard to think about the good when Alabama was bounced from the NCAA Tournament in such embarrassing fashion Saturday.

The Crimson Tide of Coach Mark Gottfried, ranked eighth in the nation and the second seed in the NCAA South Regional, had one of those inexplicable lethargic performances and fell to Kent State, 71-58, ending Bama's season.

It is an understatement to say the final score does not do justice to the humiliating defeat handed Alabama. After scoring only eight points in the first 11 minutes of the game, Alabama trailed by a dozen at halftime, Kent State up 36-24. In the second half the Golden Flashes increased that lead to as many as 26 points as they out-hustled and out-played Alabama from start to finish. Alabama never led in the game.

Bama hit only 38 per cent from the field, including making only three of 13 three-point shots (23.1 per cent). Only Alabama's usual good free throw shooting kept the game remotely close as the Tide hit 17 of 22 foul shots. Kent State took 13 more shots from the field than did Bama and made 10 more, 29 field goals to Alabama's 19. Kent State hit 46 per cent for the game, including five of 12 treys (41.7 per cent). Although Alabama ended up with a slight edge in rebounding, 38-34, when the game was on the line the smaller Kent State team out-scrapped Bama for key rebounds. Additionally, the Golden Flashes had only eight turnovers (just one in the second half) to Alabama's 15.

Rod Grizzard led Bama in scoring with 17 points. Erwin Dudley had a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Mo Williams also had 12 points, while Kenny Walker had 10 points.

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