The Alabama Crimson Tide finished the regular season on a two game skid, losing to Texas A&M on Wednesday and LSU on Saturday. The Tiger pulled out an 80-77 overtime victory over the Tide. Bama actually played with more effort in this game, but the other culprits of turnovers and poor shooting were still there and doomed the team in crunch time. Bama fell to 19-12, 9-9 in the SEC, while LSU improved to 21-10, also 9-9 in conference.
Coach Nate Oats started another lineup combination of Noah Gurley, Charles Bediako, Keon Ellis, Jahvon Quinerly, and Jaden Shackelford. but spent much of the game playing an extremely small lineup. Gurley logged 18 minutes and Bediako just over 14 minutes in the game.
LSU raced out to an early 12-5 lead before the Tide found the range. Quinerly, JD Davison, and Darius Miles hit three pointers to pull Bama close at 20-18 with 10:28 left in the half. Davison added another from long range and Quinerly drilled two more. A Gurley dunk at the buzzer gave the Tide a lead of 38-36 at the break.
At halftime Bama was shooting 40% on 13-32 from the field including 6-20 from three and 6-6 from the free throw line. The Tigers were 13-28 for 46%, 4-11 from three for 36% and 6-10 from the free throw line.
The Tide came firing in the second half as Ellis, Davison, and Ellis twice more hit three pointers to help push Bama to a lead of 52-49 with 13:15 left in the game. With the Tide leading 57-55 with 8:54 remaining the team had yet to make a second half two point basket. When Miles slammed home a break away dunk the Tide led 62-57 with 6:52 on the clock. The Bayou Bengals tied things up and then took advantage of a slew of Alabama turnovers to seize a 68-64 lead.
Davison hit one of two free throws to tie the game 70-70 with 1:12 left. LSU scored with 51 seconds to push ahead, but Ellis nailed two free throws to tie things at 72-72 with 12 seconds left. LSU couldn't score and the game went to overtime.
Quinerly hit his fourth three pointer with 3:17 on the clock to push Alabama ahead 75-74. With 1:31 left Ellis hit a break away shot giving the Tide a 77-74 lead.
Things fell apart for the Tide at that point.
LSU hit two free throws, blocked an Ellis three point attempt after a bad offensive possession, and scored on a breakaway dunk to go ahead 78-77 with 38 seconds on the clock. The Tide had the ball and after a timeout had four seconds left on the shot clock, and eight seconds on the game clock. Quinerly tried to get open and passed to Davison who tried to drive the lane and throw up a prayer, but the shot clock went off to end the possession. After the game Oats said that Davison did not know there was only four seconds left on the shot clock, and it was the staff’s job to let them know. Two free throws pushed the margin to 80-88. A desperation three by Quinerly missed at the buzzer and the Tide had another frustrating loss.
In the second half Bama shot only 8-22 from the field including 4-16 from three, but made 14-16 free throws. Overall the Tide finished 23-61 for 38%, 11-40 from three for 27%, and 20-22 for 91% from the charity stripe. Bama had 42 rebounds, 17 on the offensive end, 12 assists, nine steals, zero blocks, and committed 21 huge turnovers. LSU was 13-27 for 48% in period two, 3-6 from deep, and 7-9 from the line. Overall the Tigers were 28-61 for 46%, 7-20 for 35% from three, and 17-23 for 74% from the free throw line. LSU finished with 33 rebounds, 13 assists, 16 (!!!!) steals, four blocks, and committed 13 turnovers.
Individually Ellis led the way with 19 points on 4-10 from the field, 3-8 from three, 8-8 from the free throw line, and added nine rebounds and two steals, but had six turnovers. Quinerly hit 4-11 from deep and scored 16 points to go with four turnovers. Davison scored 12, making 3-7 from three, added five rebounds, four assists, and four turnovers. Leading scored Shackelford was held to six points and missed all eight of his three point attempts. The junior did grab six rebounds to finish second on the team.
Another excruciating loss for the Tide. Shackelford just could not get his shooting stroke going and is such an important piece for the team. Oats substituted for him late in the game and during overtime because of his shooting woes. For much of the game the Tide was playing four guards: Ellis, Shackelford, Quinerly, and Davison along with Darius Miles as the only “big”.
Trying to figure this team out has become fruitless. They can beat anyone on any given day and can lose to anyone on any given day. The SEC Tournament is up next and the Tide is still waiting on other games to end to know who they will play. Your guess is as good as mine as whether the Tide will win the tournament and make a run in the NCAA, or lose in the first round of each. Oats’ frustration with this group has been well documented as no internal leader has stepped forward. Hope for the best, and expect nothing.