Alabama knocks down a three, Dwight Powell knocks down a three. Alabama hits a pull-up J, Randle finds Huestis for a layup and free throw. Problem is Stanford started this second half down eight, so just treading water isn't going to cut it. The announcers keep talking about how Alabama goes into extended offensive droughts – one of those right about now would be really great. Chasson Randle hits a three, and sure enough, Alabama has only one field goal in the first four minutes of the second half. So maybe Randle's stroke can be the start of a run. Stanford will have the ball, down 39-33, after the under-16 media timeout.
Powell fouls – and fouls again
Dwight Powell misses a 15-footer, but responds with a steal on Alabama's ensuing possession. Alabama's Retin Obasohan beats Aaron Bright off a screen and then converts a layup and a free throw. Bright is just a step slow defensively, and he checks out after his third foul for Gabe Harris. But Gabe Harris responds by drawing foul No. 4 on Trevor Lacey, and a John Gage three cuts the Alabama lead to four, 42-38, with 13 minutes left. Dwight Powell then gets a BS third foul for a push when an Alabama player fell out of bounds fully on his own, but the officials have been issuing make-up calls all afternoon and Stanford just enjoyed a couple of calls that went their way, so this is nothing new. Powell then draws a similarly baffling fourth foul moments later that I just replayed and couldn't see. Still, at some point, the player has to adjust to how the game is being called, right? With Alabama up 44-38 at the 12-minute mark, Powell hits the bench, in a case of some poor timing for the Cardinal. After the squads trade misses, a Tide J and we're back where we started the half – with an eight-point Alabama lead.
A study in contrasts
I think this game might offer the best ammunition yet for the crowd that wants Johnny Dawkins out yesterday. Alabama has no true post, but instead of letting that be a defining weakness, the Tide turn their roster composition into a strength. No 300-pound guy means it's that much easier to full-court press, and Alabama has employed a press to great effect all afternoon, as it has generated most of Stanford's 10 turnovers. More generally, Stanford is more talented than Alabama, yet it was the Tide who went 7-3 in close games and nearly repeated in the NCAA Tournament. And, most pertinently, it's the Tide with a 50-40 lead and a boisterous home crowd at their back as we near the eight-minute timeout.
Dwight Powell re-enters with four fouls, and the Cardinal respond with a Josh Huestis J and Chasson Randle three. But after an Alabama bucket stops the run, and a whistle goes against John Gage for another invisible foul to put the Tide in a one-and-one, it may be too little too late. 52-45 Tide with seven to play.
A Randle layup and an Aaron Bright three and Stanford trails just 54-50 with 5:30 to go. Given the time remaining, this stretch is likely the Card's last shot at getting back into the game in earnest. But then Dwight Powell just quits on the defensive possession after being screened, Alabama has an easy layup, and Miles Simon appropriately calls Powell out. Many coaches would have benched Powell the rest of the way to send a message. At any rate, Bright is then called for a travel, Alabama hits a jumper and the Tide's lead is back to eight, as it was at halftime. Randle tries to go through two guys down low for a layup and is blocked for the effort. Alabama draws a foul call at the other end to put them on the line for a one-and-one, and barring something incredible, Stanford's season has 3:47 remaining. 58-50 Alabama.
With Alabama up 11 and 2:20 to go, time to look at the near-final stats. Powell has just two points on 1-of-6 shooting, and let the four fouls define him – letting guys by for layups and giving up on a key defensive possession when screened, lest he draw another whistle. It's perhaps his worst game of the season, and hopefully it will motivate Stanford's only All Pac-12 player to set the tone for next year's senior-laden squad with his offseason work ethic. Randle has 11 and Huestis nine, but neither were particularly efficient, requiring 18 shots to get their 20 combined points. A nice showing for Robbie Lemons, with 10 points on 4-of-7 shooting, and outgoing senior Gabe Harris will finish with nine minutes of run in front of a home-state audience. But it was not enough today, as the Cardinal fall 66-54 to host Alabama.
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