The Alabama Crimson Tide took a 35-34 lead over Missouri with just under 10 minutes to play on Saturday, then folded like a wet blanket down the stretch, giving up scores on 17 out of 18 possessions, and being blown out by a final of 69-50.
The game started extremely slowly for both teams, with Missouri being the first to reach double figures when they took an 11-7 lead with 10:30 seconds left in the half. The Tide then “picked it up” to reach the 20 point mark, and trailed 21-20 at the half. At the break, the Tide was 7-26 from the field for 27%, including 2-16 (12%) from deep and 4-6 from the free throw line. Bama did have 18 rebounds at the break, but also had 12 turnovers. The Tigers also had a putrid percentage, 7-22 for 32%, with 0-7 from deep and 7-10 from the free throw line. MU had 19 rebounds and also 12 turnovers. It was definitely a half of basketball that had James Naismith turning over in his grave.
In the second half, the teams swapped one to two point lead for the first several minutes, and stood tied 27-27 with 14:36 left in the game. Jaden Shackelford hit a jumper in the paint with 12:27 left and the Tide led 34-32. Bama kept a small lead until Missouri hit two free throws by Xavier Pinson to take a 38-37 lead with 9:21 remaining. The Tide scored only 13 points the rest of the way, while the Tigers tallied 23. Once Missouri pushed in front, the Tide totally folded and the rout was on.
Bama once again shot poorly in the second half: 7-20 for 35% and only 2-9 from three point range. The team make 14-20 free throws in the stanza, but only had nine rebounds and committed six more turnovers. Missouri heated up to 15-31 for 48%, including 5-12 for 42% from three, and 13-15 from the free throw line. The Tigers dominated the boards with 23 in the second half and cut their turnovers down to four.
The game totals were pathetic for the Tide, 14-46 for 30%, 4-25 from deep (only 16%), and 18-26 for 70% from the stripe. The team totaled only 27 rebounds, had 18 big turnovers, only seven assists, with one block and six steals. The Tigers totaled 22-53 for 41%, 5-19 from three, and 20-25 from the free throw line. Missouri had 42 big rebounds, had 12 assists, 16 turnovers, three blocks and nine steals.
The 50 points and four made three pointers were both season low for the Tide. Kira Lewis played all 40 minutes and finished with 18 points, zero rebounds, four assists, and seven turnovers. Shackelford had 13 points and five rebounds, and was joined in double figures by Galin Smith with 10 points, and four rebounds. No one else had more than three points.
John Petty was given the okay to play, and bravely contributed 34 minutes. However, he never looked comfortable and did not record a made basket, finishing 0-5, and scored one point with five rebounds and four turnovers. Beetle Bolden, Javian Davis, and Alex Reese combined to shoot 0-11 from the field and a total of five points.
Just an awful, awful, performance at a time when the team needs all the wins it can muster. With a 16-15 record, the Tide has - as Fifty as eluded to - a real chance of missing the NIT if they lose in the first round of the SEC Tournament next week. The extra practice and all is nice, but who knows how much of this team coach Nate Oats is going to blow up in the off season. Lewis and Petty could go the professional route, and Oats has some decisions to make in regard to who he would like back. With Bolden being the only senior, there technically is not much room on the roster. However, Oats could very well encourage some guys to look elsewhere for next season. Oats has most likely squeezed as much out of his injury riddled squad as could be expected, but several games were given away late in games by the Tide. Overall, this has been a fun/frustrating/infuriating season. The Tide seemed capable of so much, but the injuries and lack of depth caught up and will keep the team from their goals.
The Tide is the number 9 seed in the SEC Tournament and will play number 8 seed Tennessee at noon on Thursday. The winner will get top seeded Kentucky on Friday. Here’s to looking at brighter days ahead. Alabama has the right man for the job. Hang in there and Roll Tide!