The Alabama Crimson Tide had a six game winning streak broken on Tuesday night in Columbia South Carolina vs the South Carolina Gamecocks. 'Bama missed a potential game winning three-pointer at the buzzer, and fell 68-66. The Tide is now 12-4 on the season and 2-1 in SEC play. South Carolina is now 10-5, 1-2 in the SEC. The Tide had not lost since the heart breaking 53-52 loss at Wichita State on December 16th.
'Bama started out hot, streaking out to a 9-0 lead, but the Gamecocks scored nine straight points of their own to tie the game. USC took a 30-25 lead into the locker room at intermission. The Tide started the half hitting five or their first seven shots, but made only three of twelve their after. Levi Randolph and Ricky Tarrant both had two early fouls, and their first half minutes were some what limited. The Tide was hurt by a 6-14 shooting at the free throw line
In the second half, South Carolina came out hot with leading scorer Duane Notice scoring six straight points. Notice had two quick fouls in the first half and did not score a point. The Gamecocks stretched the lead to as many as 13 before the Tide began a slow and methodical comeback. 'Bama would cut the lead to five on several occasions, but USC would seemingly score on an offensive rebound, with the added foul, to take the lead back to eight points each time.
The second half had very little flow, as play was continually stopped with whistles for fouls (real and imagined) and numerous trips by the referees to the monitors for review. Each team was called for 27 fouls and two technical fouls on the game. This game was another incident of SEC refs thinking the game is more about them than it is the players.
Tarrant shot and made a three point shot with 4:42 left that would have cut the lead to three, but instead was called for a push off, his fifth foul, sending him to the bench for the remainder of the game. After back and forth play for the next four minutes, Shannon Hale hit two free throws for 'Bama to cut the lead to two with 45 seconds left. The Tide got a defensive stop and had the ball with 27 seconds left and a chance to win or tie the game. Retin Obasohan started a drive to the basket, but as he reached the lane Coach Anthony Grant called a time out with 11 seconds remaining.
With Tarrant out, Justin Coleman was running the point, and his lack of experience may have shown a little bit. Taking the inbounds pass from past half court, the play was slow at developing. Coleman was pressured and forced a pass to Randolph who basically had to throw up a prayer three point attempt from NBA range, a makeable shot, but not really a good shot. The ball clanked off the back of the rim, ending the game with the Tide on the wrong end of a 68-66 score.
This was the second straight season that 'Bama missed a shot at the buzzer in Columbia with a chance to win. Last season Trevor Releford missed at the end, and the Tide lost a one point decision. Tarrant led all scores with 15 points. Randolph added 13, Michael Kessens had nine and Rodney Cooper and Coleman both scored seven. Tarrant also led in rebounds with five. Tyson Johnson scored 13 for USC, Michael Carrera had 12 points and eight big rebounds, and Mindauga Kacinas added 10 points and eight rebounds.
The Tide shot well enough to win, 20-41 (48.8%) with 6-17 (35.3%) from three point range, but a poor 20-30 (66%) from the free throw line. South Carolina shot 22-53 (41%), only 3-14 (21%) from three point range, and 21-27(78%) from the free throw stripe. The Gamecocks dominated the board by a 33-23 margin, including a huge 13-4 advantage in offensive rebounds.
'Bama did not play a very good game, but had a chance to beat a good team on the road. USC has victories over Oklahoma State, Clemson and Iowa State this season. The Tide made too many mistakes (14 turnovers), and was out-toughed on the boards. Kessens and Jimmie Taylor have to do a better job on the boards going forward.
Alabama tips it off next on Saturday in a huge game in Tuscaloosa against the top ranked Kentucky Wildcats. The game is set for 3 p.m. CST and will be televised on ESPN. The game is officially sold out.