Sunday, February 20, 2011
Bama Brings home Bacon, 69-56
Alabama clinched the 2011 SEC Western Division Crown with the 13 point win over Arkansas. I know we generally don't hang banners or otherwise celebrate division championships around here, and I know the West sucks, but considering it's only our 3rd SEC West title in 20 years I think this team deserves some recognition for the accomplishment. Obviously, there is still a lot of work left to be done.
I was concerned about the quick turnaround again, having to play Saturday after a road game on Thursday. There were some signs of fatigue at times. The team looked very fired up in the pregame, and jumped out to a 5-0 lead. Unfortunately, after that burst of emotion wore off, we were flat at times and Arkansas came back to take the lead.
Tide jumps out to a 5-0 start.
Arkansas is a team that gives us some matchup problems. Rotnei Clark's ability to shoot basically forces us to stay in a man to man. That puts a lot of pressure on our post guys, but they did a great job. It also prevents us from pressing as much as we would like, because if that guy gets open, it's 3 points on the board. We lost him a couple of times early and paid for it, but for the most part Davis played great defense on him, as did Senario and Andrew when they were in the game. He made a couple of shots that could not possibly have been better defended.
Clark at the line shooting 3.
There were a series of close calls in the first half that seemed to go against us. There were a couple of block/charge situations, and a block/goaltend within a short span during which Arkansas was able to build a lead. Honestly, I can't say with 100% certainty that any of them was the wrong call, but it was frustrating because there were so many close calls going against us. Coach Grant called a timeout to refocus the team, and we were able to claw back and tie the game going into the half.
Anthony Jordan was hearing it from the crowd after a number of close calls went to the Hogs.
Tied at the half.
The Beale Street Flippers entertain at halftime. This guy was built like a bowling ball, but he could do backflips the length of the court.
Senario Hillman seems to be losing playing time to Andrew Steele. I would like to see Steele be more assertive on offense, but he played solid defense again. With Senario's ability to create turnovers and fast break opportunities, I would like to see him getting a little more playing time than he has the last couple of games.
JaMychal Green silently had another very solid game. He took some bad shots early but settled in and went back to his bread and butter of being aggressive and attacking the basket. He was only one rebound short of a double-double.
Arkansas deserves some credit for hanging in there. It seemed like everytime we got some momentum they would answer, and vice versa. For the first 30+ minutes, both teams answered each other's runs. I was expecting the game to go down to the wire, and the fatigue factor was a major concern for me. It turns out those concerns were unfounded. After falling behind 5 with 12 minutes to go, the team responded with a sense of urgency at gut check time. Tony Mitchell and Trevor Releford simply would not allow us to lose. When Releford decides he wants to get to the basket, he is unstoppable. With Charvez Davis having an off night shooting the ball, Releford stepped up and knocked some huge shots down the stretch. When Tony Mitchell makes a play, it's more than likely to end up on a highlight reel. If you haven't seen this dunk yet for some reason, do yourself the favor. Even if you've already seen it, it's worth another look. He also had a couple of violent blocked shots that got the crowd going too.
It was a sellout crowd, and with the exception of only a few dozen empty seats in the top corner of the student section, and a few empties scattered throughout the Tide Pride seats, it was a packed house. It was a great crowd that got very loud when the game was on the line midway through the 2nd half. With the team playing on short rest, I do think it played a factor in the increased energy to close the game. Arkansas looked like the team that was tired down the stretch.
Coach Saban on his way to his seat to take in the win with Barry Sanders Jr.
Yours Truly along with our great photographer, doing our part as the "6th man."
Coach Grant Salutes the Crowd after the win. If this man isn't the SEC Coach of the Year, there should be an investigation.
I apologize for the delay in getting the recap and pics posted. I stuck around Tuscaloosa today and went to the women's game. Congrats to Coach Wendell Hudson and team for getting another win at Foster, despite blowing a 21 point lead to Ole Miss.
Up next, the hapless auburn tigers come to Tuscaloosa for a 7pm tipoff Wednesday night. The game will be televised on the SEC network. Yes, auburn sucks, but despite our record we are not good enough to overlook anybody. For them, a win over Alabama to knock us out of the NCAA tournament discussion would make their season. Let's pack the Coliseum again and support the SEC West Champions in making sure that doesn't happen.