Near the end of the game, ESPN showed a replay of Trevor Releford's game winning half-court three point shot against Georgia from 2013. From that moment, I knew the basketball powers-that-be would ensure an equalizing moment of vengeful irony for the Tide. Couple that with the fact that it seems like the Crimson Tide are determined to lose EVERY close game, and we have a recipe for a perfect overtime loss.
The game started with Georgia scoring the first 6 points and grabbing the first 5 rebounds while Alabama was still trying to remember they were actually playing a basketball game. Senior Rodney Cooper finally got the Tide on the board after three minutes of playing time. From there, both teams did their best to keep the basketball from going into the basket. Some might call it good defense, others (yours truly) would say it was just some awful shooting.
If you love the sound of a basketball clanging off rims, do I have the game for you! Alabama shooting around 20%, trailing UGA 17-11 7:53 1H— Roll Bama Roll (@rollbamaroll) February 22, 2015
Georgia held the 6-7 point lead for most of the first half, until Riley Norris decided he was tired of losing. With 3:38 left in the half, Norris turned a steal into two free throws, drained a three pointer, flew through the air from off camera a couple of times, and scored another jumper... All within a minute and a half. Retin Obasohan closed out the half with a buzzer-beating layup to tie the game at 24.
The second half ended up being one of the most fun halves of Alabama basketball to watch this year. The offense decided to start looking efficient and the team was playing with an energy I have not seen in a while. Players were rotating in and out of the game and everyone was contributing. Unfortunately, Georgia was playing just as well, and Alabama could never pull away.
The Tide took a two point lead with a Retin Obasohan 3-pointer with 1:42 to play, and all signs seemed to point toward an Alabama victory. Unfortunately, the Bulldogs resiliently scored three points to take the with 46 seconds left. After a brief intermission, Michael Kessens drew a foul with 17 seconds to play. He made his first free throw to tie the score at 61, and missed the second. In an extremely fortunate moment, the Georgia rebounder decided to drop the ball and Jimmie Taylor managed to swipe it away. Coach Grant called a time out and drew up a great set play to have Levi Randolph drive the lane and dish the ball out to a wide open Rodney Cooper, but Randolph was called for a charge as he passed the ball away, sending the game into overtime.
I probably don't even have to type this last paragraph and every Alabama fan would still be able to guess what happens next: the Tide holds a 1-2 point lead throughout overtime, until Georgia takes the lead on a jumper with 10 seconds left in the game. The resulting Alabama attempt is blocked, and the game ends in a one point loss.
The leading scorer for the Tide was the unlikely Retin Obasohan. The fill-in point guard attempted a whopping 17 shots, making just six. Three of those, however, were three pointers. Obasohan managed 16 points and 12 rebounds for a double-double, and added two amazing blocks on Georgia fast breaks (one of which involved Obasohan guarding three Georgia players on his own). Riley Norris was second on the team with 14 points and an astonishing 3 out of 4 three-point shooting. The freshman had one of his best games with the Tide so far, and provided a spark of energy through most of the game.
Senior Rodney Cooper was third on the team with 11 points, but missed all three of his attempts from behind the arc. He added 5 rebounds, a steal and an assist. Levi Randolph has probably the quietest game of his senior season. The Tide's leading scorer only managed 8 points, half of which came from free throws. Jimmie Taylor did his normal Jimmie Taylor routine of looking very scary and blocking a couple of shots while grabbing six rebounds. He also managed to make one of his five free throws this time around.
Shannon Hale, Justin Coleman, and Michael Kessens combined for 11 points, and though Hale got the start, he lost most of his playing time to a hot Riley Norris.
Collectively, the Crimson Tide shot 37.5% percent from the floor, including a decent 33.3% from three-point range. The rebounds, steals, and turnover numbers were almost identical, but the free throw performance was the difference as Georgia made 70.4% of their attempts to only 51.6% for Alabama. In a game where you lose by one point in overtime, that hurts.
This was actually a pretty entertaining game to watch, and the Tide's offense seemed to be clicking through most of the second half. The ending was unfortunate, and likely did a lot of damage to any NCAA tournament hopes still left for the Tide. Yet again, Coach Anthony Grant and the Crimson Tide managed to lose a game on the last possession. Its happened way too often this season.