As John Petty goes, so goes the Tide. The sophomore guard from Huntsville has been on fire as of late, and had ‘Bama on a nice run. However on Saturday, Petty shot 1-7 from the field and 0-5 from three point range and the Tide fell 73-68 to the Baylor Bears in the SEC-Big12 Challenge. ‘Bama fell to 12-7 on the year and Baylor improved to 13-6.
Coach Avery Johnson stuck with the same starting lineup of Donta Hall, Herbert Jones, Tevin Mack, Dazon Ingram, and Kira Lewis. The Tide was able to hurt the Bears inside, scoring their first 22 points from in the paint. Strangely enough Hall only had two of those points. Mack and Lewis were doing most of the early damage. Meanwhile Baylor was hot from outside and burying three pointers at an alarming rate.
At the half BU lead by a score of 36-30 and had scored half of their points from long range, while the Tide only had one made three point basket in the period. ‘Bama was shooting an excellent 54% (14-26) at the break, but only 1-7 from deep, and 1-2 from the free throw line. Baylor shot only 40% on 15-37, but were 6-15 from three point range and 0-0 from the line. Hall, on a streak of four straight double-doubles, had only two points and one rebound after the first 20 minutes.
The Tide came out on fire in the second half as Hall had a short basket followed by a thunderous dunk and a Lewis three pointer, giving ‘Bama a 37-36 lead. From that point the game seesawed back and fourth from tied to the teams swapping two point leads. Riley Norris heated up and nailed a three pointer with 10 minutes left to tie the game again. Lewis, Norris, and Mack took turns scoring to keep the Tide rolling. With 3:30 left Baylor missed a shot with a chance to go ahead, but grabbed the offensive rebound and had a put back for the lead. Hall tied the game with 3:25 left, but then the Tide fell apart. With two minutes left the deficit was six and ‘Bama got sloppy with the ball, impeding their opportunity to make a come back.
With 31 seconds left Norris hit his fourth long range three pointer to pull the Tide within three at 69-66. ‘Bama went with the full court pressure and seemingly forced a turnover to have a chance for the tie. However after review Baylor was awarded the ball and hit enough free throws down the stretch to win the game by a score of 73-68.
In the second half the Tide still shot well, 15-31 for 48% including 4-10 from deep and made 4-5 from the free throw line. Baylor changed their MO, and did their damage inside in the second frame, shooting 15-30 from the floor, 0-7 from the three point line, and 7-10 from the free throw line. For the game ‘Bama finished 29-57 for 51%, 5-17 from three for 30% and 5-7 from the charity stripe. BU finished 30-67 for 45%, 6-22 from three for 27% and 7-10 from the free throw line. The major difference was the Bears heaving up 10 more field goal attempts on the back of 16 offensive rebounds. For only the second time all season ‘Bama was outrebounded, this time by a 35-31 margin. The Tide had great ball movement with 17 assists, but committed 13 turnovers, adding seven blocked shots and three steals. The Bears had 14 assists, eight turnovers, five blocks, and six steals.
Norris led the team with 16 points and didn't miss a shot all day, going 6-6 from the field including 4-4 from three. Mack was aggressive in the paint and added 15 on 7-13 shooting, while Lewis chipped in 15 on 6-12 shooting, with five rebounds and six assists. Hall missed his double-double, but finished with 11 points and seven rebounds. Ingram had five points, and Petty, Alex Reese, and Galin Smith had two each. Jones was shutout as was Avery Johnson, Jr.
Baylor freshman point guard Jared Butler finished with nine points. Butler was an Alabama signee and spent the summer with the program, but the team doctors would not medically clear him to play so he transferred to Baylor, where he was cleared. Once he transferred that opened the door for Kira Lewis to reclassify and skip his senior year of high school to come to Alabama.
This was a frustrating loss that would have been a good resume builder for a possible NCAA Tournament bid. The Tide got beat at their own game, rebounding. The offensive glass work by the Bears was the key to their victory. Also road Petty reappeared and helped doom the Tide. However, Norris scoring 16 and Mack adding 15 covered over Petty’s lack of scoring, leading back to the rebounding deficiency being the main culprit in the defeat.
The Tide laces the sneakers up again on Tuesday night when they host 22nd ranked Mississippi State in a 7:30 tip at Coleman. The game will be shown on the SEC Network.
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