BREAKING: Alabama has a bad basketball team.
If you happened to miss it, the first half probably set basketball back 100 years. Per Alabama's breakneck style, the game started slowly and TAMU had just a one point lead at the half, 24-23. 'Bama was 9-27 (33.3%) in the first half and the Aggies were 9-31 (29.8%) at the half.
As has been the pattern this season, 'Bama allowed the opposition to scorch the nets in the second half. Both teams came out at half time and seemed to play with a little more polish early. The first seven or eight minutes were pretty much back and forth until the game just seemed to slip away from the Tide. With 11:28 left the score was 42-38, and from there the Aggies took over and dominated the rest of the way. Five offensive charge calls on 'Bama were a big portion of the 13 turnovers the team committed. Trevor Releford had four turnovers, one on a charge, and three on passes that his teammates could not handle. Releford, with 16 second half points, led the team (once again) with 20 points. .
Again, this seems likes Groundhogs Day, as a very poor shooting Aggie team hit 15-27 (55.6%) in the second half, including 4-9 from three point range. Though 'Bama improved their percentage to 42.1 (8-19), as a team they only took 19 shots in the second half. I'm not sure if the second half defensive lapses are from fatigue or being out schemed and/or out coached at half time but this has been a consistent issue all year.
For the game the Aggies outscored the Tide 32-18 in the paint, 16-4 on second chance points and won the rebounding battle 38-31, including 12-6 on the offensive end. Not having Nick Jacobs, who is out on an indefinite "leave of absence", hurt on the points in the paint category, since he is our only legitimate inside scoring threat. Jimmie Taylor got his first start in SEC play and scored four points, grabbed eight rebounds and blocked three shots. Taylor does have some upside, and if he will get in the weight room and get bigger and stronger he could prove to be a force in the coming years. (Face it the coming years are all we have to look forward to right now.)
Trevor Releford is one of only three players in the country averaging 50% on field goals, 40% on three point attempts and 90% on free throws. There is just no way to adequately say how good this young man has been and if you haven't seen him with your own eyes, you should make every effort, as you only have five chances left.
Another youngster Shannon Hale added 12 points, despite a terrible 3-8 from the free throw line, and led the team with nine rebounds. Rodney Cooper, the team's leading rebounder on the season, only grabbed one rebound, and scored six points. Levi Randolph hit two first half three pointers, and never shot again, ending with six points. Retin Obasohan, Algie Key and Carl Engstrom all played and did not score.
With the win the Aggies moved to 15-11, 6-7 in the SEC, and with the loss 'Bama dropped to 10-17, 4-9 in the league.
The only positives to take from this game are, of course, the wonder that is Trevor Releford, and the two freshmen, Taylor and Hale who continue to improve.
Looking ahead, with transfers Ricky Tarrant and Michael Kessens and new comers Devin Mitchell, Riley Norris and Justin Coleman all being eligible next year, the Tide has some parts to build on. Next season, Alabama returns Cooper, Obasohan, Randolph, Key, and Jacobs (maybe?) which should provide quality depth, something they haven't had in quite a while. As long as the team is not hit with a wave of transfers, and there aren't any kidnapping plots, the foundation is there for a much improved 2014-2015 season.
Of course you'd like to win some of the last few games this season, but we really do need to be looking forward. Hang in there, things will (eventually) get better
Roll Tide, Y'all