Stop me if you've heard this one before. The Alabama Men’s Basketball team had a late lead but failed to hold on, falling 65-56 to the 24th ranked Oregon Ducks. This followed a game at Texas were the Tide blew a 12 point half-time lead in a loss. Bama had battled to a 54-53 lead with about three minutes to play, and were tied at 56 with 1:41 left, before fading down the stretch and falling to 4-4 on the young season.
Dylan Ennis hit a three point shot with the shot clock running down to kick off a 9-0 Oregon run to close the game, securing the victory for an 8-2 record. Oregon was picked as a preseason top five team, but lost two games early with star Dillon Brooks out with an injury.
The Tide started off on a good foot, jumping out to a 5-0 lead, before the Ducks caught fire and pulled away to away with 14-2 run. UO threatened to blow the game wide open, but Bama answered with a 7-1 run in the last 4:48 of the half to get within eight at 31-23. Oregon was able to hit 4-11 three point shots, to 1-10 for Bama in the first half to help forge their lead.
Bama came out with renewed energy after the half, closing to a 38-34 deficit with 14 minutes left. The Tide hung around until Donta Hall, who had a big day in his first career start with 14 points and seven rebounds, put the team ahead with two dunks and a put-back with a little over four minutes to play.
Unfortunately that would be the Tide’s final highlight. Bama couldn't throw the ball in the ocean from deep, hitting only 2-19 three point tries in the game. Between the poor shooting (44% for the game) and 18 turnovers the Tide once again couldn't pull out a late game, much needed, victory.
Oregon hit 44% of their shots and 40% (8-20) of their three pointers in addition to 11-14 from the free throw line. Bama did out rebound the Ducks 33-27. UO distributed the ball well, getting several easy baskets, while dishing out 18 assists. The Tide only had eight assists to go against their 18 turnovers.
Hall was the leading scorer and leading rebounder with his 14-7 line. The sophomore added two assists, with a block and a steal. Ar’Mond Davis added 10 points in 20 minutes of action. Riley Norris tied Hall for the rebounding lead with seven, but failed to score and seemed timed in regards to shooting. Corban Collins made the only two shots from deep, and finished with seven points. Dazon Ingram scored eight points. Freshman Braxton Key had one of his least productive games, scoring six and grabbing four rebounds, but committed five turnovers.
With Nick King left in Tuscaloosa with an undetermined illness, Davis played increased minutes. Coach Avery Johnson has not been able to nail down a starting five, or a rotation in the first eight games of the year. Jimmie Taylor and Shannon Hale have disappointed, particularly as seniors that have been in the program for four years, (two with Johnson.) Hall defiantly earned his way into the starting lineup, and should continue to be a corner stone along with Ingram, Key and Collins. The rest of the roster will have to be mixed and matched according to match ups and riding a hot hand.
The team is struggling to pull out victories, but appear to be close to being able to turn the corner, although it will not be easy, with little margin for error. There isn't a Retin Obasohan, Levi Randolph or Trevor Releford to call on in crunch time when the team needs a basket.
The Tide plays again on Thursday, December 15th at 7:00 p.m. against South Carolina Upstate, followed by a Sunday game in Birmingham against Clemson at 3:00 p.m.
Roll Tide, Buckle Up