Alabama Coach Mark Gottfried thought that the considerable successes to date may have played a part in the Crimson Tide's disappointing play in a 71-58 loss to Mississippi State in Starkville Saturday.
Although the loss dropped Alabama to 17-11 overall and 10-6 in Southeastern Conference play, it didn't affect the Crimson Tide's number two seed in the upcoming SEC Tournament in Nashville. By virtue of finishing second in the SEC Western Division, Bama has a first round bye and will play for the first time at 2:15 p.m. CST Friday. The tournament runs through Sunday, March 12.
Following the SEC Tournament, Alabama can expect to hear its name called when the NCAA Selection Committee reveals the 65 teams in this year's national tournament.
Gottfried said, "We played a little like we've been reading about ‘number two seed' and ‘already in the tournament.' We're not good enough to think like that. Now we've got to regroup and get ready to go to Nashville with a good attitude, and I think we will."
Gottfried agreed the Tide may also have been a little tired against a Senior Day-inspired Mississippi State team. "We need a little rest," the Tide coach said. "We played Sunday, Wednesday, and Saturday. That's a lot of basketball in six days for a team playing only seven."
Gottfried gave credit to Mississippi State for playing a good game. "They were terrific," he said. "We ran into a hot team. We didn't play particularly well, but give credit to Mississippi State."
The loss Saturday ended a two-game winning streak at the end of regular season play. It also ended a three-game winning streak against Mississippi State.
The Bulldogs raced out to an 8-0 lead, and Gottfried said, "We were playing catch-up all night." Actually, Bama did catch Mississippi State. After falling behind by 11 points, the Tide took a brief 27-26 first half lead. But the Bulldogs then went on an 11-2 run and led by 37-29 at the half.
Alabama had several opportunities to make a game of it late in the second half, but drawing to within five points the Tide defense couldn't make a stop, and getting within seven points with the ball, Bama twice committed costly turnovers.
Bama shooting also left something to be desired. Late in the contest Evan Brock missed a dunk (though he was fouled), then missed two free throws. Jermareo Davidson got the rebound, but missed his attempt at a putback, then missed a tip-in. That's a lot of misses in just a few seconds.
Alabama shot only 39.7 per cent for the game, only 29 per cent on three-point shots, and only 67 per cent on free throws. Mississippi State shot 47 per cent for the game, including an outstanding 9-20 (45 per cent) on three-point shots.
Bama was plagued with 16 turnovers.