We waited until the last two minutes to try and win it," Crimson Tide forward Nick Jacobs said. "We waited too late." The defeat dropped the Crimson Tide to 19-11 overall and 11-6 in Southeastern Conference play and denied UA a chance to clinch a two-round bye in the upcoming SEC Tournament in Nashville, Tenn. UA could still earn a bye depending on what happens Saturday. UA hosts Georgia in the regular-season finale
"Being Senior Night, they came out with a whole bunch of emotion," Alabama sophomore forward Nick Jacobs said after a befuddling 87-83 loss Wednesday night at Tad Smith Coliseum. "They played with a whole lot of passion, and it sort of just caught us off guard as a team."
The Crimson Tide still can get in … if it wins the Southeastern Conference tournament next week in Nashville. If it plays defense the way it played Saturday at Florida and offense like it played in the second half at Tad Smith Coliseum when it scored 58 points – repeat, 58 points (more than it scored total in nine games this season) – who knows what could happen?
"I said, ‘Let me call you back,’ " Murphy recalled. "Within five minutes I said, ‘This is silly,’ and I called him back and said, ‘Let’s do it.’ " That game will be played today, with the fourth-ranked Gators playing No. 1-ranked Alabama in a matchup with national ramifications, although it won’t count in the SEC standings.
For the previous four seasons, the two-hour ride up Highway 82 from Montgomery to Tuscaloosa was a long, lonely bus ride for the Alabama baseball team. Nothing changed in that regard Tuesday night except the length of the losing streak. The Crimson Tide dropped to 0-5 against Auburn in the Capital City Classic with a 6-3 loss to the Tigers at Riverwalk Stadium. Alabama managed just three hits against Auburn pitchers Dillon Ortman and Conner Kendrick.
Thomas won the 1988 Butkus Award as the nation's best linebacker and finished 10th in the Heisman Trophy balloting that year, when he was a unanimous All-American. And no wonder, since he set a still-standing SEC record with 27 sacks. He also holds SEC career marks with 52 sacks and 74 tackles for loss.
The Cincinnati Bengals picked him up for the third game of 2012, and Gilberry made the most of another opportunity. Beginning mainly as a pass-rush specialist, by the time the season ended, Gilberry was playing about half the time in Cincinnati's defensive-line rotation and had helped the Bengals earn a spot in the AFC playoffs. Gilberry finished with 6.5 sacks last season, with a sack rate about the same as the Houston Texans' J.J. Watt, who was the AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
By the end of his answer, Saban's tone switched from relatively critical to optimistic. "I really like where our team is, how they’ve worked during the offseason conditioning program," he said. "It’s a work in progress, so we’ll see how the chemistry and things develop as we go through spring practice, summer conditioning and fall camp. "It takes time."