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Alabama Basketball Season Put To Pasture

Norte Dame put the Crimson Tide basketball team out of their misery, defeating them 78-64 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Bama finished 19-14, the Irish improved to 24-10

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament First Round-Notre Dame vs Alabama
Sad end to the season for the Tide
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Alabama basketball team was defeated 78-64 by a Norte Dame team that had to win a play-in game that went two overtimes on Wednesday followed by an all-night, cross-country flight. The Irish didn't look like the tired team on the floor and sent the Tide home with a final record of 19-14. Norte Dame improved to 24-10 and advance to play 3rd seeded Texas Tech on Sunday. The game was played in Viejas Arena in San Diego.

Coach Nate Oats started Jaden Shackelford, Jahvon Quinerly, Charles Bediako, Keon Ellis, and Noah Gurley in the Friday afternoon game. Both teams couldn't throw the ball in the ocean for the first four minutes of the game and the Tide held an early 3-2 lead. After the four minute timeout Quinerly went down while driving to the basket with what appeared to be an severe knee injury, and never returned. With 14:25 left in the half the score was tied 6-6. JD Davison replaced Quinerly in the lineup and dished off for a couple of nice assists to give Bama a 10-6 lead after seven minutes of play.

Shackelford and Ellis hit three point shots to give the Tide a 22-21 lead with seven minutes left in the period. Davison dropped in one from long range for a 25-21 lead just seconds later. However, as they are wont to do the Tide went cold and the Irish went on a run to take a 41-33 lead late in the half. Juwan Gary, who played his best game in a couple of months, hit a corner three (!!!) with 16 seconds remaining to make the scored 41-36 at the break.

Norte Dame blistered the nets in the first half to the tune of 16-27 for 59% from the field including 6-8 from three and 3-4 from the free throw line. The Tide shot 14-32 for 44% with 5-11 for 46% from deep and 3-4 from the charity stripe. Neither team was good around the basket as ND was 5-13 on layups and the Tide was 5-12. Irish sharp shooter Cormac Ryan had 18 points in the half.

Davison started the second half along with the other four original starters. Davison was able to get to the rim on several occasions early and convert baskets, keeping the Tide close. With 16:18 left in the game the score stood at 44-42 in Norte Dame’s favor. ND pushed the lead to 13 points with six minutes left in the game. The Tide made a mini run with a Gary basket and free throw and an Ellis three to get within eight with 4:30 left. A technical on Oats after a no call on an Ellis three point attempt and some sloppy turnovers helped the Irish pull away and win 78-64.

The second half saw ND shoot 14-32 for 44% with 4-8 from deep and 7-7 from the free throw line. Overall Norte Dame shot a sizzling 29-54 for 54% including 10-16 for 63% from deep and 10-11 for 91% from the line. The Irish had 32 rebounds, 13 assists, 10 steals, one block, and 18 turnovers. Bama shot only 12-32 for 38% in the second with 3-13 for 23% from deep and 1-3 from the line. For the game the Tide was just 26-64 for 41%, 8-24 for 33% from deep and 4-7 for 57% on free throws. Alabama had 28 rebounds, 16 assists, nine steals, four blocks, and 14 turnovers.

Individually, Ellis led the way with 17 points on 6-11 shooting and 4-6 from three point range and had nine rebounds and two steals. Shackelford shot 4-17, 2-10 from deep and scored 13 points with seven rebounds, two assists, and two steals. Davison played 36 minutes due to the injury of Quinerly and had 11 points, nine assists, six rebounds, and three steals, but he did commit six turnovers. Gary had 10 points, four boards, and two steals in 23 minutes off the bench. Bediako, James Rojas, and Darius Miles combined to play 43 minutes and the trio had zero rebounds. Ryan tortured the Tide with 29 points on 7-9 shooting from three and 10-13 overall.

With Quinerly hurt and out the Tide probably lost any chance they had to win this game, and would have had next to no chance in a match up with Texas Tech on Sunday. The team really just seemed to be playing out the string. Reports state that there was a “voluntary” shoot around held on Thursday and Quinerly was the only player that showed up to participate. With limited practice hours having voluntary sessions is a way to get the players in the gym under the guidelines. There will be a major roster blowup before next season and Oats is going to have some work to do to mold the team. Game after game we continued to hear “I have to figure out how to get this team to play hard all the time” from Oats, and he never did figure it out. The leadership void was huge with the loss of Herbert Jones, John Petty, Alex Reese, and Jordan Bruner. Who knows what the roster construction will look like next year but Oats and company signed one of the top ranked recruiting classes in the nation. Which current players will pair with them remains to be seen. The transfer portal needs to be worked hard for some hard nose basketball players that play the game the right way. Two straight NCAA appearances after a decade and a half show that things are looking up, but there were very high hopes for this team that weren't realized.

Roll Tide