Alabama Loss Is Familiar Story

Stop me if you've heard this one. Alabama's men's basketball team built a big lead, and then watched it disappear in losing another close Southeastern Conference game. That was the case at Georgia Saturday. Alabama's big men basically took the day off, and the Bulldogs took advantage to come from behind for a 76-70 victory.

Alabama built as much as a 13 point lead on the strength of outstanding perimeter play, but attempts to work the ball inside were mostly fruitless and Georgia was able to come from behind and take an eight-point lead in the final seconds of the game.

Alabama's record fell to 14-12. Bama is now 4-8 in SEC games. Georgia is also 4-8 in league games and improved its overall record to 12-13. Going into the game, Georgia had not defeated an SEC Western Division team and Alabama had not defeated an SEC Eastern Division team.

Alabama continues on the road, going to Mississippi State for a Wednesday game that tips off at 8 p.m. CST. Alabama defeated the Bulldogs in Tuscaloosa in late January, 62-57.

Alabama Coach Anthony Grant wasn't interested in what Alabama might have done well to forge a 13-point lead in the game. "You like to look for a silver lining, but as far as I'm concerned you either win or you lose," he said. "And right now we don't do the things we have to do to win."

In general terms, Grant ticked them off. "We have an inability to defend and rebound down the stretch," Grant said. "It's a reoccurring thing. It cost us in this game just like it has in some other games this season.

"We need to control the things that we can control like blocking out and rebounding—the things that affect winning. When the game is on the line, it seems like we just don't do it."

He said, "The game was lost the last four minutes of the game. We've got to be able to finish games. We've got to have defensive toughness, rebound, attack on the offensive end. And we just don't do that. : It's becoming a common thing. When you get to the end of the thing and need to do things to win, you've got to step up and do them."

Alabama was outrebounded 39-27 with the Bulldogs getting 11 more rebounds than Bama in the second half. Georgia made 29-53 field goal attempts (54.6 per cent). Although Georgia made just 5-9 three-point shots, one came in the final moments, Dustin Ware scoring his first points with 1:17 to play to give the Dogs a 68-63 lead. Ware would also make all four of his free throws in the final minute.

Alabama shot just 21-52 (40 per cent) from the field, including 7-20 (35 per cent) on three-pointers. Alabama had an advantage at the free throw line, making 21-17 (78 per cent), while the Bulldogs make only 13-24 (55 per cent). But Georgia made them when it counted. After going 2-11 to start the game, Georgia made 11-13 down the stretch.

Once again, Mikhail Torrance did not start the game, but the senior guard played very well, scoring 20 points. Bama's other perimeter players also scored well. Anthony Brock had 13 points and Senario Hillman 11, nine of them in the first half.

JaMychal Green had 16 points and 11 rebounds, but he also had a handful of shots blocked and had four turnovers. He was also part of a front line that allowed the Bulldogs to rebound three missed Georgia free throws and score baskets off two of them.

There were five lead changes and five ties in the first half with Georgia coming out with a 30-29 lead. Neither team had more than a four-point lead.

Early in the second half, the Tide took the lead out to double digits. Torrance drove the lane and made a left-handed scoop layup and was fouled. He made the free throw for a 10-point lead. Moments later he made two free throws for an 11-point Alabama lead at 47-36. At 11:39, Alabama's Tony Mitchell and Charvez Davis combined for a steal and got the ball to Torrance, who was fouled. He made both free throws for a 52-39 lead.

Georgia, led by Travis Leslie and Trey Thompkins, went on an 11-2 run to cut Bama's lead to four.

Torrance made a trey and two free throws to put the Tide back on top by nine points, 59-50, with 7:37 to play. Thompkins hit two free throws to give the Bulldogs a 63-61 lead with 2:56, then Thompkins made a short jumper for a four-point lead and the Tide could never catch up.

Thompkins, who had six points and six rebounds at halftime, finished with 21 points and 16 rebounds. Leslie had 16 points and seven rebounds.

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