In a game that probably made James Naismith turn over in his grave, Alabama lost to Texas A&M by a score of 65-56 on Tuesday night. Bama fell to 15-11, 6-7 in the leaguer, while the Aggies “improved” to 11-14, 4-9 in the SEC. TAM is 2-0 vs the Tide and 2-9 against the rest of the league. An inexcusable, terrible, frustrating, loss to a bottom dweller in the league puts coach Avery Johnson squarely on a steaming hot seat.
The game started off slowly, but the Tide led for the majority of the half and had a real chance to take a comfortable lead into the locker room at half time. But about that... with 44 seconds left, Johnson askewed the chance to go two for one while holding a 30-21 advantage. Instead Dazon Ingram was called for a (questionable) travel at the top of the key, and the Aggies hit a three pointer at the buzzer to cut the lead to 30-24 at intermission.
At the break, the Tide was 12-28 for 43%, including 5-12 for 42% from behind the arc. Bama was 1-2 from the free throw stripe. TAM shot only 7-26 for 27% and 2-13 for 15% from the three point stripe, but made 8-9 free throws to stay in the game. Riley Norris hit three deep three point shots to help the Tide hold the half time lead.
In the second half, the Aggies drew even at 32 at around the 17 minute mark before the Tide seemed to take control of the game. Kira Lewis scored five straight points, followed by five straight by John Petty to build a 42-32 advantage. When Herbert Jones made a steal and drove the floor for a dunk the Tide seemed to be in control with a 44-32 lead.
Texas A&M systematically cut into the margin, and took the lead at 48-45. Tevin Mack came alive and scored five straight points of his own to tie the game at 50 each with six minutes remaining. The Tide was down 60-56 with 58 seconds left after a Donta Hall dunk and foul. Hall missed the free throw, and Bama never scored again. Neither team was yet in the bonus and the Tide did not foul until most of the clock was gone when they needed to foul twice to send the Aggies to the line.
The shooting for Bama dropped to 38% in the second half and only 1-11 from the three point line. The Tide was 3-5 from the free throw line in the second half. The Aggies heated up to 15-28 for 54% and 4-10 from the arc, and also hit 7-7 from the charity stripe. For the game, both teams shot 40% from the field, 26% from the three point line, but the difference was at the free throw line. The Tide only had seven attempts, and hit only four, while TAM was 15-16 for 94%. The Tide continued their late season collapse on the boards, and was out rebounded 38-31. Bama dished 15 assists against 13 turnovers with three blocked shots. The Aggies had 10 assists, three blocks and 13 turnovers.
Mack was the only Tide player in double figures with 14 points. Norris had nine, all in the first half, and Petty had seven points and led the team with six rebounds. Hall had six points and five rebounds. Lewis had one of his worst games of the season, scoring-wise, with five points, but had four assists, and no turnovers. Alex Reese and Galin Smith never saw the floor in the game.
Including last season, Bama is now 2-7 in February games. Once again after setting themselves up for making the NCAA Tournament with out drama, the team is fading down the stretch, and will need to finish strong to have a chance to make the dance now. Fans are riled up at the lack of focus and sense of urgency that the team exhibits. Johnson has alluded to the low energy on the team, and at some point that has to come back to the top. Without a big turnaround in the last five games and the SEC Tournament, the future of Avery Johnson in Tuscaloosa looks shaky.
Next up is a home game with Vanderbilt on Saturday. Tip is at 5 p.m. and will be televised on one of the ESPN Channels.