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Alabama falls to North Carolina

The Tide played hard but the Tar Heels proved to be too great a mountain.

NCAA Basketball: Battle 4 Atlantis-Alabama at North Carolina Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The Crimson Tide lost game one of the Battle 4 Atlantis to North Carolina by a score of 76-67 on Wednesday afternoon. The sixth ranked Tar Heels punished the Tide on the boards and scoring in the paint in dropping the Tide to 2-3 on the year. UNC improved to 5-0 on the season.

The Tide started off much like an Anthony Grant or Avery Johnson team, unable to score, and many times not able to get a shot off. After five minutes Bama was behind 7-4, on a pace for a 40 point game. With an 11-4 deficit, John Petty finally found his range for the first time this season, pouring in five shots from deep in the first half. Herbert Jones was playing hard, but missed four layups and a dunk in the first 10 minutes of action. Petty tied the game at 30-30 with just over three minutes left in the half, but the Tide squandered opportunities and trailed 37-31 at the break. Kira Lewis and Jones entered the dressing room with three fouls apiece.

In the second half the Tar Heels kept pounding the glass and killing the Tide with put backs. Lewis picked up hits offensive game and made a few baskets to keep Bama within range. Every time the Tide would put a small run together the Heels would answer. The lead fluctuates between seven to 12 points down the stretch, with the Tide not able to put the offense and defense together to make it any closer.

Bama did make some inside baskets in the second half, mostly in drives by Lewis and some inside moves from Alex Reese and Javion Davis. The Tide shot 12-36 in the first half, including 6-21 from deep, while UNC was 15-40 and 2-8 from three. Bama finished the game shooting 38% on 26-68 from the field, and 11-31 from three point range for 36%. The Tide couldn’t get to the free throw line, and when the did they made only 4-9 attempts. North Carolina finished 29-71 for 41% and 5-14 (36%) from deep. The didn’t need to shoot threes when they were scoring 40 points in the paint. UNC destroyed the rebounding battle 60-31, including 23 on the offensive end. I can not recall seeing such a discrepancy in my basketball watching days. Bama did handle the ball better, committing “only “ 14 turnovers, and dished out 12 assists. UNC had 20 turnovers and 15 assists.

Petty broke out of his funk, and led all scorers with 23 points, fueled by 7-10 from the three point line. Lewis added 20 points, but was 9-23 from the field, and added five rebounds, four assists, but had five turnovers. Reese was the leader on the boards with nine, and had seven points on 3-10 shooting. Javion Davis and Jones scored five points each.

The Tide is still playing hard, they just don’t have the horses for the style they want to play. The lack of numbers, and fit for the style, are showing up. To the players’ credit they are hustling and giving it their all. Even though coach Nate Oats declared this team an NCAA Tournament team prior to the season, it appears to be a long way from being so. With the rest of the out of conference schedule, and then SEC play, a losing record is a possibility, to be honest. James Rojas, Juwan Gary, and Jahvon Quinerly, are being greatly missed, and all will not see action this season. The Oats era is only five games old and patience is going to be needed this year. I know Bama fans are getting tired of hearing that after the last 10+ years, but that is where we are.

The Tide plays again tomorrow, taking on Iowa State at 5:30 p.m. CT. The game can be seen on one of the ESPN networks. Roll Tide. #BallAndOats. Follow @rogerpatmyers on Twitter for live updates