The Florida Gators handed the Crimson Tide basketball team their second straight one-point loss on Thursday night in Coleman Coliseum. Roll 'Bama Roll reacts with some initial impressions...
- Alabama lost its fifth SEC game to fall to 3-5 in league play. Of those five losses, the Tide has led at the half every single time. Three of those times Bama has lost by one point after failing to convert with possession of the ball at the buzzer. Ouch.
- Some folks in the game thread commented that all of these close losses and frustrations remind them of the 2007 football season, Coach Saban's first year. I think there are a lot of parallels to be made. We're short on talent, struggling to adapt to a new system, and frustrations are growing after disappointing close losses to quality opponents. That year on the gridiron we showed flashes and were able to take the top two teams in the country down to the wire (#1 LSU and #2 Georgia), but just didn't have enough yet to finish the deal. Later in the season we all know what happened, as it just didn't end the way anyone wanted and there were far too many losses. This basketball season is shaping up much the same way. We just have to remember a foundation is being laid, and try to support the team as much as possible and pick up wins where we can. An NIT bid is still very possible, but we have a lot of work left to do and are only halfway through the conference season.
- In my game preview I said the following: "we need to generate a lot of turnovers (in the range of 20 or so), limit their offensive rebounds (10 or less), and hit our 3s (make 6 or more). If we do at least two of those three, I think we win and get to .500 in the league. If we fail to do two or more of those things, I think the Gators will leave town with a win and put us in a deep hole heading into a tough road trip." I'll assess each one of those three keys in the following bullet points.
- We hit 9 3-pointers off of 21 attempts. That's well above our average for both makes and percentage and above my threshold of 6, so mark this category down as a win. Still, we missed some wide open looks late in the game that would have certainly put us over the top.
- We were only able to generate 11 turnovers on the day, well below what I was hoping for, so mark this one down as a loss. Give the Florida guards credit for doing a nice job handling the ball, but this was a pretty significant letdown for us defensively. We let Florida get up the floor too easily for most of the night and this allowed them to set up their halfcourt offense consistently, where they had more success against us than any of our eight SEC opponents thusfar. That fact that we held them to 66 points and consider this our worst defensive performance of the SEC slate says a lot about our defense, but we simply need to do a better job disrupting the opponent's offense than we did against Florida.
- So that's one key where we were successful and one where we were not. The other key, preventing offensive rebounds, was very close. When the Gators had the ball down one with under 30 seconds to go, they were at 10 offensive boards, exactly the number I said we needed to hold them to. If we had indeed held them to 10, we would have barely succeeded in two of the three keys and probably barely won the game. Instead, Florida's 11th offensive rebound came with 21 seconds to go, and that led to the Gators' game winning bucket a few seconds later. So we narrowly failed in this category and narrowly lost the game as a result.
- That deep hole I referred to at the end of the quote above from the game preview is exactly where we find ourselves now. We fell to 13-9 on the season and 3-5 in SEC play. Our next two games are both on the road against ranked teams. First up is #25 Ole Miss on Saturday in Oxford, followed by a date with #4 Kentucky in Lexington next Tuesday. If we come away from that road trip with a win, we should all be satisfied.
In the meantime, let's quickly examine the individual contributions in Thursday's loss below the jump...