Sunday, January 11, 2009

Tide Titillates Tigers

but the zebras gave us the game. Thank God home cooking is alive an well in the SEC - at least for one more afternoon.

The hustle was good, the effort excellent and the defense formidable in the first half. Ron Steele still is not his old self. No one is sure whether he still suffers from physical limitations or whether his obstacles are all mental or some combination of the two. But tonight even his shot evaded him. Bama hit only two shots outside the arc. Ron was one for six and Andrew hit the other. Ron missed all but one of his chip shots in this game too. Let's hope he just had a cold night.

Gee has been an rebounding and defending machine. Hillman and Andrew Steele took turns playing the part of the lock down defender. Both were most successful in the first half. Hillman continues to put on on offensive show. Tut he got out of control several times in the second half, probably because no one else on the team could buy a bucket.

LSU cut Bama's lead to within a basket several times in the second half, the last one coming just before one of the "no calls" that definitely helped Alabama win this game. The Tiger guard had crossed mid court and was in the process of setting up a play when Hillman got a hand on the ball. If my memory serves me well, he got a clean touch on the ball but when he bumped his opponent's body while going for the lose ball that action resulted in the other player's not being able to retrieve it cleanly. Not being able to secure the ball gave Hillman the opportunity to steal it and draw another foul as he laid it in for two points. Perhaps the official did not see the body contact. Perhaps he thought SEC teams are supposed to benefit from those sorts of calls at home. I never would have seen it if I had been in Coleman Coliseum. I still think that was the game winning call. The good news is that the Tide did not wilt down the stretch when the game still was theirs to lose.

Alabama won a game they deserately needed to win at home. They played much better defense in the first half than they have exhibted for several years. They still have time to improve and many areas where they can focus. Perhaps they will be a good team before the season is over. At the very least, the coach finally learned that they need to play half court defense. Now if he can teach them to get back in transition and hire a hypnotist to program some sort of a half court offense into their brains they could make a real run toward the end of the year.

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