Alabama traveled to Athens Saturday looking to regain the road magic that propelled them on the right side of the bubble three weeks ago after back to back wins at Florida and LSU. However, the Crimson Tide team that has played itself out of the NCAA Tournament conversation in recent weeks (barring an SEC Tournament Championship next week) once again reared its ugly head. Here's how it went down:
In the first half, Alabama continued doing their best Grantsketball impression by being completely stagnant on offensive. It was clear from the opening tip that the Bulldogs weren't going to let Retin Obasohan beat them today, showing constant help in the driving lanes and playing off of the Tide's supporting cast. It was effective to say the least, as they held the first team All-SEC candidate to just two points in the opening half. Alabama also didn't do themselves any favors on the backboards, getting out rebounded 29-15. Georgia really should have taken a large lead into the locker rooms but the 'Bama defense wouldn't allow it, anchored by big man Jimmie Taylor who had 5 blocks in the first half. If you like defensive basketball this first half was for you, if you actually like seeing made baskets like the rest of us it was quite painful on the eyes.
If you fell into the second category in the last sentence you would enjoy what was in store for the final 20 minutes. For the second half, Alabama played at the kind of pace we can expect in the years to come under Shannon Hale. When this team has been at its best this season they've had at least one scoring compliment to Obasohan, usually either Riley Norris, Justin Coleman, or Arthur Edwards. If you gave the coaching staff their choice of any player to help with the scoring load they'd choose Shannon Hale, who is probably this teams most talented player. The streaky Hale showcased that talent to the tune of 25 points, including a stretch where he scored 15 consecutive points fairly late in the game. While the offense took giant leaps forward in the second half, the defense regressed and the poor rebounding from the first half stayed just that, poor. Defensively, Alabama had no answer for Georgia's Yante Maten who finished with 19 points on 7 of 11 shooting. And while the Tide did a great job holding JJ Frazier to 2 of 12 from the field, his 12 of 12 from the free throw line would be too much to handle late in the game. Simply put, Alabama couldn't get stops or come down with defensive rebounds when it mattered the most, which has been a theme during this slide the last few weeks.and it paid dividends immediately, especially for the Tide's x-factor
Now the Tide limps into Nashville needing to win the SEC Tournament to advance to the big dance, no doubt a huge disappointment from where things stood just a few games ago. But what the NIT once again might be disheartening for some, keep in mind how many teams out there would love to have the chance to host or just play in a postseason tournament after next week (hello, Auburn). If this team has taught us anything it's that we shouldn't count them out under any circumstances. So, don't be shocked if we are still watching Avery Johnson and company play this time next week in the Music City.and this team have accomplished in year one shouldn't be lost in this disappointment. After all, this team was picked to finish next to last in the SEC this year. While going to