Coleman No Place For Cigar Sales

If you sell stogies for a living, you may want to stay away from Coleman Coliseum. In fact, you'd best not go anywhere near it unless your client is the visiting team and its fans. The hard-luck season of the 2010 Alabama basketball team has yet another "close, but no cigar" game on its resume. Coming off a one-point loss to Auburn, Florida's 66-65 win Thursday was especially tough to take.

A dejected first-year Alabama Coach Anthony Grant said, "They made plays down the stretch on both ends of the floor that resulted in them being able to win. I thought it was a hard-fought game. We didn‘t do a good enough job blocking out. Give them credit. They made the plays they had to make to win the game."

One good example came at the end: Freshman Tony Mitchell, after a time out, could not get the ball inbounds to a teammate down a point with 3.5 seconds to go. Instead, the Gators batted the ball into the back court, and time expired while Anthony Brock tried to chase it down.

"Florida did a good job with their defense, causing us to not find good looks at the rim both halves," said Grant.

Free throws hurt, too. "Obviously, we've got a better job of making our free throws when we get there. It is what it is," added the Tide coach.

What it is, is frustrating.

"This time of year, it seems like every game goes like that," said Florida Coach Billy Donovan. "Obviously, Alabama's last game was decided by just one point and our last one was close, too, so I think the conference games just get really competitive this time of year."

Bama got to the line 18 times, but hit only 12 times, a 66.7 per cent clip. Such things make a difference in close games. Other things do, too. To wit: Florida won points in the paint, 34-24, second chance points 21-6, and out-rebounded the Tide 35-24. The Gators grabbed 13 offensive boards, directly contributing to the above-mentioned second-chance points.

What needs to happen for Bama to turn it around and start winning some of these close SEC games?

"Whether it's by one or by 20, a loss is a loss. We've just got to find a way to get better, and move forward, Grant said.

Asked if he would lose sleep over the final play where his team couldn't get the ball in cleanly, Grant responded, "Probably, but we've got a game to get ready for Saturday."

Having missed a late free throw and committed a costly turnover at the end of the Auburn loss, senior point guard Mikhail Torrance was out to redeem himself. His 22-point, five assist night was not enough for the struggling Tide (13-9,6-5 SEC). Nor was the 14-point, five rebound game by JaMychal Green, or the 10 point, six board game by Mitchell.

Next up for the Tide is a Saturday trip to Oxford, Miss, where Bama will face the Ole Miss Rebels. Tip time is set for 5 p.m. CST, with FSN set to televise.

Alabama coaches, players and fans can only hope it's not yet another "close, but no cigar" game for the Crimson Tide.

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