Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Cocks Cream Crimson, 68-66.

Bama played well at times, but poor free throw shooting, shot selection, and rebounding was too much to overcome at times.  The Tide picked up right where they left off in Knoxville, holding the cocks scoreless through the first 5 minutes of the game while taking a 9-0 lead.  We missed some opportunities on offense, and could have easily had a 15 point lead in the first half.  Instead, South Carolina answered with a 9-0 run of their own to tie the game.

The announcers harped on it a little too much for my liking, but we settled for too many jump shots in the first half.  With the exception of a few back door cuts against their man, we made little effort to drive to the basketball or get the ball in to the post.  We were only 3 of 11 from downtown in the first half.  Nevertheless, Ricky Tarrant scored at the end of the first half to give us some momentum only down 5 at halftime.

The start of the second half was an unmitigated disaster with 3 straight turnovers.  Within 4 minutes, the lead was back up to 13.  Alabama fought back, started attacking the basket and slowly chipped away at the lead.  Ricky Tarrant led the charge, but picked up his 4th foul with 10 minutes to play after cutting the deficit to 7.  Tarrant would foul out with just under 5 minutes remaining, with 3 of his 5 fouls being called on the offensive end.  He still scored 15 points, and I believe the outcome would have been different if he were available down the stretch.  Nevertheless, I thought Justin Coleman did a nice job of running point, and Levi stepped up big time to put us in position to win the game.

This game was lost on the backboards.  South Carolina had 13 offensive rebounds to our 4, scoring 21 second chance points to our 6.  That's nearly a third of their points coming on second chance opportunities.  If Taylor, Kessens, and Coop box out like they did in the Tennessee game, we win this one going away.  I give South Carolina's Carrera a lot of credit for his hustle on the glass.  On the other hand, Chatkevicious should have been thrown out for his elbow to Norris in the first half.  That was as blatantly intentional and dirty of a play as you will see.  I'm not sure Riley should have stayed in to shoot the free throws after that.

Once again, we had horrible clock management at the end of the game.  We had the ball and a timeout down 2 with 30 seconds left.  I thought we should have called the timeout upon crossing half-court to put Justin in for Retin.  Retin is typically the "defense" PG in the late game offense/defense substitutions, and you just knew he was going to drive in out of control.  Coach Grant waited until he did exactly that, and called the timeout with 11 seconds to go.  It turns out, that out of control drive was probably better than the designed side-out play we called with 11 seconds.  That was a tough situation for a true freshman Justin Coleman to be in when they took away the initial designed pass to Levi.  I wish he would have attacked the basket with his quickness and looked for either a kick-out to the perimeter or an inside dish to Kessens or Coop.  Instead, he handed it to Levi with 3 seconds left, who could do nothing but heave it up.

Up next, the undefeated and top-ranked Kentucky Wildcats will come to Tuscaloosa for a 3pm tip-off Saturday.  The game is sold out, and I for one welcome our new Big Blue overlords.  The game will be televised on ESPN.

1 comment:

Msmilie said...

Tough loss to get over. Going into the game, I felt this was another winnable road game for our guys. Just too many mistakes. 14 turnovers, the rebounding issues, inconsistent officiating. All of that, and Alabama still had a chance to win the game at the end.

It's easy to get wrapped up in the final play, or lack of one, but I thought the game turned when Tarrant fouled out. He hit a three on that play that, if counted, would have trimmed Carolina's lead to three with 4:42 left in the game. He was also playing with an edge at that point in the game, and I agree with you that if he doesn't foul out we're probably talking about another Bama road win right now. That's a testament to the team for fighting through all of the bulls***, which there was plenty of, to at least have a chance at the end. The last two foul calls on Ricky were infuriating. Technically, they were probably fouls, but in a game that was so physical on both ends, those are two tacky calls to make by Pat Adams. Calls always go against the road team, but in such an important game (every game is important this season for this team and coaching staff), you hate to see a couple of calls potentially define the last five minutes of a close, competitive game.

The toughest thing about that loss is that one tough loss could now morph into three with Kentucky and a road game at Arkansas on tap. I still think this team has a puncher's chance at reaching the NCAA tournament, but it could be a grinder all the way into March with a thin margin for error in each game. All of this reminds me how amusing I find it when people who argue against college basketball say that the regular season doesn't matter. Every game matters.