Alabama got outplayed in every aspect on Tuesday, never really having a chance in a 72-54 loss to Creighton in their opening round game of the NIT. The Tide shot only 17-60 (28%) from the field, including 8-31 (25%) from three point range, contrasted by an unusually good free throw percentage, 10-12 for 80%. Creighton out rebounded the Tide 45 to 32. The Bluejays also outshot 'Bama, going 29-60 for 48%, 3-8 from three point range, and 5-6 from the free throw line.
Coach Avery Johnson's troops stayed somewhat close early, before Creighton pulled away for a 30-19 halftime lead. Retin Obasohan did not attempt a field goal until six minutes remained in the half, leaving the Tide stagnant on offense and stationary on defense. Creighton let 'Bama shoot themselves out of the game, as they continually fired away from long range. With no inside threat to speak of, the Tide had no answers.
Obasohan finally got his first field goal of the game coming out of the break, and then made two free throws. From that point, 'Bama was stuck at 23 points for about eight minutes of game time, which allowed Creighton to build a 41-23 lead.
Suddenly, Justin Coleman got hot, hitting a trio of three point shots, and Alabama briefly pulled within 10 points on a couple of occasions, but could not get any stops on the defensive end. Creighton pulled away and buried the Tide at that point.
Coleman led the team with 18 points, hitting 4-9 from three point range. Obasohan, for the third straight game, had a quiet first half, but picked it up in the second half and finished with 13. Shannon Hale had nine points. Freshman Donta Hall continued his late season surge and contributed five points, eight rebounds and five blocked shots. No one else had more than three points.
Maurice Watson, Jr, led Creighton with 20 points, followed by Khyri Thomas with 15 and Geoffrey Groselle who added 14 rebounds to his 12 points.
After a promising run that had Alabama on the cusp of a NCAA bid, the team struggled down the stretch. The 18-15 record is probably better than most expected, and the excitement seems to be back in the program. Obasohan will be a huge loss, and Arthur Edwards was a nice addition as a graduate transfer. A healthy Dazon Ingram along with returning players Riley Norris, Hale, Hall, Coleman, Michael Kessens, and Jimmie Taylor will form a nice nucleus in Coach Avery Johnson's second season. With transfers Nick King and Avery Johnson, Jr becoming eligible and Brandon Key coming in the future looks bright.