An Embarassing Start To 2008

Alabama lost its third game of the season to a Top 25 opponent, and this time, the Tide didn't even compete. In a game that could be dubbed "Beat-down in T-town," No. 21 Clemson played the Harlem Globetrotters to Alabama's Washington Generals in drubbing the Tide, 87-61. An early exit by an announce crowd of 9,316 had many wishing they'd stayed home to watch bowl games.

Alabama Coach Mark Gottfried, however, had to be present for the whole game. "I'm completely, 100 per cent embarrassed at how my team competed in the second half," Gottfried said. "I think we got frustrated. Their pressure hurt us. They made a nice run. We took some bad shots.

"At that point, we did not compete nearly as hard as we should. That was a second-half disaster. Real simple."

Both Texas A&M and Georgetown were ranked in the Top 10 when they defeated Bama last month. The Tide competed very well in both those losses.

Clemson led 40-35 at the half after it applied a stifling man-to-man defense that caused the Tide to struggle just to get shots off.

Bama took an early 8-6 lead on a pair of Richard Hendrix dunks, and the Tide was up 27-22 after Senario Hillman stole the ball and drove for a lay-up to force a Clemson timeout with 7:45 left in the half.

The Tigers defense stiffened and Clemson closed the half with an 18-8 run. Terrence Oglesby 22 hit a trio of long three-pointers off the bench to aid the Tigers' cause. The visitors held a 19-15 advantage on the glass at halftime, and finished with a 42-29 margin on the backboards.

"The first half, we competed hard, played hard," Gottfried said.

The second half was far less competitive, as Clemson (12-1) went to a press the Tide never solved, and Alabama continued to struggle on both ends of the court, while the Tigers dunked and hit three-pointers. By the time the final horn sounded, the only question was whether or not the Tide would lose by 30. It lost the half, 47-26, including a 25-10 run to start the half.

Bama's last non-conference home loss of this magnitude came in 1970 by 28 points. LSU beat the Tide by 33 points in 2000.

Gottfried said, "When they made their run, we did not respond well. Period. They did a great job, but we didn't guard them nearly as well as we should, and didn't compete hard. I did think in the second, half, we got frustrated and took some bad shots. We just got flustered.

"Instead of buckling down, and getting tough mentally, we went the other way. That should never happen." Gottfried chose not to let his players speak to the media after the game.

"I thought we played outstanding basketball today," said Clemson Coach Oliver Purnell. "I thought our guys showed a lot of mental toughness. We really started to guard them. I think our pressure was a cause that helped blow the game open. I thought in the second half, I thought it wore them down.

"If not, it was certainly close to our best performance of the year."

Three Tiders scored in double figures, led by Gee's 17. Hendrix scored 14, and freshman Rico Pickett added a dozen. Inside players James Mays and Trevor Booker had 18 each for Clemson, and Oglesby finished with 17.

Next up for Bama (10-4) is a home date Friday night with Chicago State.

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