The second ranked Alabama Crimson Tide traveled to Norman, Oklahoma to play unranked OU in the final Big 12/SEC challenge on Saturday. The Sooners were more physical, shot better, hustled more, and looked like the better team in taking an impressive 93-69 win. Bama fell to 18-3 with the loss while Oklahoma improved to 13-9. For the second straight game the Tide looked almost uninterested and the results were the results. The defense and three point shooting that has carried the team all year were nonexistent. Over the last two games the Tide is 11-50 from three point range: 6-22 today and 5-28 against Mississippi State on Wednesday.
Coach Nate Oats stayed with the starting line up of Mark Sears, Jaden Bradley, Charles Bediako, Noah Clowney, and Brandon Miller. The Tide could never get untracked and played unispired and sluggish all day. Miller made two free throws to tie the game at 2-2 early and that was basically as close as Bama got all day. Between poor shooting, effortless defense, and unreal shooting by the Sooners the game got out of hand early. Sears hit a lay up with 10:32 left to cut the lead to 16-12. OU then took off and led 50-33 at the half time break.
In the first half the Tide shot 12-36 for 33% including 3-10 from deep and 6-8 from the free throw line. Bama had 17 rebounds, four assists, five steals, and nine turnovers. Clowney led the team with eight points and six rebounds. Oklahoma shot an unreal 19-28 for 68%, 6-8 from three point range and 6-6 from the line. The Sooners had 16 rebounds, 10 assists, three blocks, and one assist, and eight turnovers.
In the second half Rylan Griffen and Noah Gurley joined Miller, Sears, and Clowney in the starting lineup. The Tide started out with a little run with Miller’s only three point basket to cut the lead to 53-38 with 17:51 remaining. Eleven points down at 55-44 with 16:04 left was as close as Bama would get. Oklahoma went on a spree and cruised the rest of the way for the easy win.
In the second half Bama shot 13-30 for 43%, 3-12 for 25% from deep, and 7-13 from the line. Overall the Tide finished 25-66 for 38%, 6-22 for 27% from three, and 13-21 for 62% from the line. Alabama had 35 rebounds, six (just six!!) assists, 13 turnovers, seven steals, and two blocked shots. With a late barrage of points Griffen led the way for the Tide with 15 points, making 5-8 shots with 3-4 from deep and added seven rebounds. Jahvon Quinerly had 12 points on 5-12 shooting, with all his makes either mid range jumpers or layups. Miller had 11 points and seven rebounds but was out of sorts all game, shooting 4-14 from the floor. Miller added three assists, a block, and a couple of steals. Sears also had 11 points while shooting 4-10. No one else had more than four points.
The Sooners shot 15-31 for 48% in the second, with 3-5 from triple land and 10-13 at the charity stripe. Overall OU shot a blistering 34-59 for 58%, 9-13 from three for 69%, and 16-19 from the line for 84%. Oklahoma had 36 rebounds, 17 assists, 13 turnovers, four blocks, and three steals.
Oklahoma played an inspired game with tons of physicality. The Sooners bullied the Tide and Bama seemed taken aback by the play. The officials seemed to allow more pushing and shoving than the Tide has been used to. OU’s Tanner Groves was particularly active with his elbows and shoulders. Things almost boiled over when Bradley blocked a shot down low, was called for a foul, and Groves grabbed at the ball and shoved Bradley. Gurley took things into his hand and shoved Groves from behind and a melee was close to breaking out. Groves smartly (or cowardly?) quickly retreated to the bench while the players were separated. Duel technicals on Gurley and Groves, plus a shooting foul on Bradley led to four OU free throws and the possession of the ball. Gurley showed more fight in that moment than the team did all game.
The Tide needs to regroup and get ready for the rest of the season. This was two straight games were they have played subpar. The three point shooting will come and go- and has mostly gone the last two games- but defense is where this team is supposed to hang their hats. Bediako’s production and level of play has dropped off the last few games. Clowney has not been the same lately, and even Miller has not been up to his prior play. Sears’ shooting has fallen off and Dom Welch and Nimari Burnett have not been able to get back to pre-injury level. In fact it appears Welch is almost being forced into action by Oats and the staff, but with no positive results. Burnett played his most minutes since his return with 14 minutes of action, failed to score, had one rebound, and four fouls.
On the other hand Quinerly and Griffen have stepped up their play. The wild card to me is Nick Pringle, who has shown well when he gets the chance, however he hasn’t seen the floor much. Let’s regroup and get things going in the right direction.
Next up is a home game with Vanderbilt at 7:30 CT on Tuesday night. The game will be shown on the SEC Network
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