THIS IS ALABAMA BASKETBALL.
It has been said when something good happens for Alabama basketball, something bad is sure to follow. Following up a huge win over LSU on Saturday, the Tide came out listless, righted the ship, then faded down the stretch, losing to a middling Texas A&M team by a score of 74-68 Wednesday night.
The Tide held a 62-56 lead with four minutes remaining before the Aggies went on a 12-0 run to take control.
Per usual, Bama was slow out of the gate, and fell behind 7-0 early in the game. With the Aggies slow, deliberate style of play, the Tide was unable to play the run and gun style that they so like. Alabama is one of the fastest playing teams in the NCAA and TAMU is one of the slowest. A&M wanted to ugly the game up, and they did. What wasn't expected was for the 348th rated three point shooting team (out of 350) in the country would have a career night behind the arc, hitting 11-24 long range tries.
The Tide finally got things going in the first half, with a burst of energy provided by Beetle Bolden off the bench. With Jaden Shackelford providing 10 points, the Tide took a lead of 34-28 into the locker room. At the break Alabama was shooting 12-30 from the field for 40%, including 8-21 from three point line for 38%. As the norm for the Tide, they had only three free throw attempts in the half, making two. Texas A&M shot 9-20 for 45% in the half, including 5-9 for 56% from deep and 5-6 from the charity stripe.
Shackelford hit a three point shot right after the second half began and the Tide had a nine point lead, and seemed to be on their way. With 10 minutes left the Tide held a five point lead after another three point shot from Shackelford. The lead osculated between three and five point over the next few minutes. When Shack had an old fashioned three point play, the Tide led 62-56 with four minutes left.
Then things fell apart. The turnovers kept on coming, the shots stopped falling, and the defensive stops were nonexistent. With just over three minutes left, the Aggies grabbed the lead at 63-62, then hit a falling down three with the shot clock running out for a 68-62 with 58 seconds left in the game. Alex Reese hit his only three of the game to cut the lead to 68-65 with 40 seconds left. TAMU committed an offensive foul while trying to inbounds the ball, and the Tide had a chance. Kira Lewis missed a game-tying try. After a foul, the TAM gave Bama another chance, by missing two free throws. Shackelford had a great look, but the tying shot would not fall. The Aggies then hit two free throws, followed by Lewis throwing in a running three point basket to cut the lead to two with 11 seconds left. With a four point deficit, Shackelford was fouled on a three point attempt, and promptly missed all three shots. More free throws for TAM finished the game off with a 74-68 loss for the Tide. Alabama fell to 14-12, 6-7 in the SEC, while A&M improved to 13-12, 7-6.
In the second half, Bama finished 12-29 for 41% including 8-23 from three point range for 35%, and 2-6 from the free throw line. TAM shot 12-28 for 23%, including 6-15 for 40% from deep and 16-21 from the free throw line. Overall the Tide finished a putrid 24-59 for 41% from the field, including 16-44 for 36% from three, and 4-9 for 44% from the free throw line. The Aggies finished 21-48 for 44%, 11-24 for 45% from three, and 16-31 for 76% on free throws. The bigger Aggies won the boards 37-29. Bama had 17 assists, 19 huge turnovers, three blocks and 11 steals. Texas A&M had 12 assists, 1 block, 10 steals, and also 19 turnovers.
Shackelford led the way for the Tide with 24 points, four rebounds, and two assists. Lewis added 16 points, three assists, and committed four turnovers. John Petty had 11 points ,four assists, and four rebounds. Herbert Jones led the team with only five rebounds, but only played 19 minutes after playing 30 plus minutes and grabbing 17 rebounds in the LSU game. The Tide got almost nothing from their big guys, Galin Smith and Javian Davis combined for one point and three rebounds in 23 minutes, while Reese had five points and four rebounds.
Just a backbreaking, inexplicable loss to a team that the Tide should have beaten by double digits. In fact, oddsmakers had Bama as a 10-plus-point favorite. The slim chance of reaching the NCAA Tournament is slowly slipping away.
The team travels to Oxford on Saturday to play the Ole Miss Rebels at 7:30 p.m. The game can be seen on the SEC Network.
Roll Tide #BallAndOats