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Alabama Basketball Blows Another Big Lead

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The Tide was bounced from the SEC Tournament by Vanderbilt on Thursday night by a score of 82-76

NCAA Basketball: SEC Conference Tournament- Alabama vs Vanderbilt
Jusaun Holt had his best game of the season on Wednesday
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Build a big lead, start turning the ball over at (an even) higher rate, miss three point shots, miss free throws, miss layups, blow said lead, have a chance at the end, don't capitalize. Wash, rinse, repeat. Total microcosm of the Crimson Tide basketball season. A 10 point halftime lead and a 14 point second half lead couldn't overcome 45 free throw attempts by Vanderbilt, 14 missed free throws by the Tide, and 18 turnovers, and Bama lost 82-76 to Vandy in the SEC Tournament. Alabama is now 19-13 while VU improved to 17-15 on the season. Now the Tide waits on where the NCAA will seed them and where they will play in the NCAA Tournament. The loss was Bama’s third in a row.

The ever-continuing starting five roulette came again. Coach Nate Oats started Keon Ellis, Jahvon Quinerly, Jaden Shackelford, Charles Bediako, and Noah Gurley on this night. In the first minute of the game the team chucked up three long three point shots and missed them all. With 17:16 left Shackelford finally knocked down a long range shot and the Tide had built a lead of 6-0. With 15:43 left the lead was 11-3 and felt like it could have been bigger, a theme for much of the half.

Shackelford stayed hot, hitting four three point shots in the half, and got help with some stellar point guard play from JD Davison to push the lead out to 30-18 with 5:01 remaining in the stanza. The Tide could have totally taken control of the game with some better free throw shooting, which had been a team strength of late. Some Scottie Pippin, Jr. shenanigans kept the Commodores within striking distance despite shooting 1-11 from the field in the half. The Golden Boy of the officials made eight of ten free throws, and a lone three pointer, for 11 points at the break to pull his team to within 10 at 38-28.

In the first half Bama shot 12-32 for 38% including 4-15 from deep for 25%, and a poor 10-18 from the free throw line for 56%. Vanderbilt shot only 6-23 (and still were within 10!), 3-13 from three for 23% and 13-18 from the free throw line for 72%. Shackelford had 14 points as the teams went to the locker room.

Shackelford hit a couple of early threes coming out of the break and continued to get help from Davison as Quinerly battled foul trouble. When Ellis hit a layup, and somehow didn't get fouled despite being slapped, the Tide had their biggest lead of 51-39 with 13:40 left in the game. Then things went to hell in a hand basket.

Vanderbilt went on 14-2 run to close the margin to a workable number. With 10 minutes left Shackelford and Quinerly both had four fouls which didn't bode well for the Tide. With 9:11 left the Dores took their first lead of the game on (wait for it...) two Pippen free throws at 57-56. Bama regrouped. Ellis hit 3-3 from the free throw line to take the lead back at 59-57, and it expanded to 62-57 when Jusaun Holt made a put back and free throw with 8:10 on the clock. Ellis was then called for a phantom foul on Pippen when he swiped at air, adding him to the four foul brigade.

Shackelford made 1-2 from the line after being tripped by Pippen with 3:56 left and the score was tied at 68-68, and that was as close as the Tide would be down the stretch. Missed Bama free throws and made VU freebies pushed the lead out and a long three pointer by Shane Dezonie was the dagger with 1:15 left. A break away dunk by Pippen and more missed Tide free throws made the final score 82-76.

The Tide’s defense, so good in the first half, allowed 54 second half points. Vandy shot 15-30 in the second with 6-13 from deep and 18-27 (27!!) from the free throw line. Overall the Commodores shot 21-53 for 40%, 9-26 for 35% from three, and 31-45 for 69% from the line. VU had 34 rebounds but only five offensively, plus 13 assists, 10 steals, three blocks. and 11 turnovers. Bama shot 12-35 for 34% in the second with only 4-18 from three and 10-16 from the free throw line. Overall the Tide finished 34-67 for 36%, 8-34 for 23% from deep, and a miserable 20-34 for 59% from the stripe. Bama dominated the boards with 52 rebounds, 18 on the offensive end, had 16 assists, five steals, zero blocks, and 18 huge turnovers.

Individually Shackelford scored 21 points, hitting 6-16 from three point range. Quinerly had 13 points. five rebounds, four assists, and five turnovers in only 18 minutes of action. Ellis scored eight points, grabbed seven rebounds, dished three assists, and had three steals. The frustrating thing with the senior is that he only had six field goal attempts despite being one of the team’s most efficient shooters. Bediako scored six and tied for the team lead with seven rebounds in his 18 minutes of play. Davison had possibly his best floor game with eight assists to only one turnover and also had seven rebounds. His weakness in the game was his 1-8 shooting and four points scored in 32 minutes. Holt played 15 minutes coming off his suspension from last game and scored a career high seven points and grabbed four rebounds.

I really don't know what to say about this team. An incredibly frustrating team that can bring you all the emotions within one game. Beautiful play for a half, followed by excruciatingly ugly play for extended periods. Big leads built, big leads blown. Big deficits overcome, only to not be able to finish in the end. At times the team looks joyous playing and at times they look miserable. As they stumble into the NCAA Tournament they could lose to a lower seed or go on a run and reach the Sweet 16. They just have not been a fun to team to watch this season. Lets hope for the best and a couple of wins in the tournament to leave a good taste in our mouth for next season, with a reworked roster.

Roll Tide Roll