Alabama had high hopes of a run in the SEC Tournament, but went out with a whimper in the first round after losing to Vandy, 82-76.
Surprisingly, Alabama’s defense led the way in the first half. They played with the kind of intensity it takes to compete in tournaments, and held the Commodores to only 28 points at the break. Scottie Pippen Jr. was particularly frustrated, with only one field goal in the half but still got 11 points thanks to ten free throw attempts. That was the theme of the first half: whistle happy officials. They seemingly came into the game intending to make it as ugly as possible, calling a combined 29 fouls on the two teams in 20 minutes.
Alabama wasn’t great on offense in the first, but they had their moments. Most notably, they learned quickly that the officials were going to call a charge on every flop, and they adjusted. Jaden Shackelford led the scoring with 14 and JD Davison was quite effective despite scoring only two, as he dished out 5 assists against no turnovers. This one was particularly pretty.
The Tide took a 38-28 lead into the break.
Unfortunately, the turnover problems showed up again in a big way. along with some missed layups, and Vanderbilt took the lead at 57-56 with nine minutes left. The lead changed hands a few times, but fouls continued to pile up on the Alabama side. Shackelford, Keon Ellis and Jahvon Quinerly all had four fouls with significant time left on the clock thanks to the absurd officiating, which didn’t help matters. Shackelford and Quinerly ended up fouling out.
Still, the game was lost because Alabama didn’t make easy shots. The three point shooting was bad, but that really wasn’t the issue. There were enough points left on the table with missed layups and poor free throw shooting to win the game. In a microcosm of the season for this Jekyll and Hyde team, an outstanding first half effort was wasted with stupid mistakes and failure to execute the basics in the second half.
And yes, the officials were utter garbage. Embarrassingly so.
We’ll see where the committee seeds the Tide, but three straight losses to end the season aren’t going to impress them. Best guess is probably a seven or eight seed and a very difficult road, but making things tougher for themselves is how this team rolls.
Hope for the best.