Stop me if you have heard this before. 'Bama played tough, 'Bama played scrappy, 'Bama fell behind 8-0 right out of the gate. 'Bama mounted a comeback, even took a seven point lead, then allowed Florida to tie the game at half. Trevor Releford had to feel alone on the court again as 'Bama drops another one despite a valiant effort.
The third ranked Gators are clearly the class of the SEC, and somehow the Tide has probably played their best two games of the season against them. After a six point loss in Tuscaloosa two weeks ago, 'Bama came into this game reeling, having lost three in a row. The team had their customary slow start, falling behind 8-0, the sixth straight game with at least a 6-0 deficit to start the game. However they bowed their necks, played tough, and rode the un-worldly shooting of Trevor Releford to a brief seven point lead. The tough Gator squad battled back to tie the game at intermission, 36-36.
'Bama played as well as they possibly could in the first half, shooting 61% from the field and 71% from three point range. (Florida shot 65% in the first half.) The second half proved to be another thing though. Florida began the second stanza on a 16-3 run to take control of the game. To the Tide's credit they did not fold up, and battled back to cut the lead to seven on a few occasions. In a play that summarizes this season, Retin Obasohan threw the ball away with a chance to cut the lead to five late.
All five Florida starters scored in double figures while Releford was alone in that regard for 'Bama with 25. This was the 24th consecutive games in double figures for the senior from Kansas City. Releford moved into 10th place all-time in scoring for the Crimson Tide and added four assists and four steals. Obasohan was next with nine points, and Rodney Cooper added seven, and led the team with six rebounds. Jimmie Taylor had six points and three blocked shots and played well in his 20 minutes of action.
The Tide had one of their better shooting games of the season, hitting 55% for the game including 54.5% from three and 87% from the free throw line. The big problem in the second half was that they only attempted 17 shots. Florida shot 62% for the game and out rebounded the smaller Tide team 23-20.
With the win Florida is now 21-2, and 10-0 in SEC play on the season. 'Bama dropped to 9-14, 3-7 in SEC play.
No loss is a good loss, but this one certainly wasn't too bad. Playing the third ranked team in the country on their home court and staying close is something. The way the season has gone it would be easy for the players to give up, and we didn't see that today. Except for a couple occasions, Auburn and Tennessee come to mind, this team has battled and been in most all of their games. Whether or not they can forge some victories out of that effort, and limited talent, remains to be seen. With a quick turnaround before the next game, Tuesday at home against Marshall Henderson and his band of Rebels from Ole Miss, Grant must rally the troops or risk the team losing their fifth straight. The game is set for 8 p.m. and will be televised on ESPNU.
Roll Tide Y'all, I know you are getting as tired hearing it as I am of saying it, but hang in there.