Alabama was swept by in-state rival auburn to drop to 17-13 (8-9). I'm going to keep this relatively short, because it's late, and I've got too much to do tomorrow to waste time revisiting this abortion. You want a recap? Go back and look at either of my Texas A&M game write-ups, or my Georgia State game write up, or any of the other nearly dozen times we've blown double-digit leads this year. This game was nothing new. If you want a little more of a "big picture" analysis, go back and look at my recaps from any big home games late in the season with an NCAA tournament bid on the line in the last 4 years. This team is maddeningly inconsistent, yet amazingly predictable all at the same time.
We had 10 and 12 point leads at different points in the game, but couldn't take advantage of opportunities to really stretch it out. We missed 2 or 3 dunks on one possession. Turnovers were a problem throughout, but they went from the careless inbound violation variety to the disastrous open- court-steals-leading-to-wide-open-3 kinds in the second half.
Bruce got a technical for something said during a timeout, and auburn responded with a run to erase our lead.
Dazon aggravated his injury and had to leave the game after playing well for only 11 minutes. I do think he could have helped some defensively. When the auburn guards got to the rim and pulled Donta away, we didn't have any size to rotate over. Dan Giddens also left the game with a wrist injury. Let's hope both are okay. One moment of slight entertainment was Dan coming back out of the locker room and looking at the scoreboard to see our 12 point lead down to 2 and looking at his teammates in disbelief saying "Wtf? how?" Dan was probably the only person in the whole gym legitimately surprised by the turn of events.
Speaking of Donta, can someone explain why he routinely puts up double-doubles against elite competition, but gets owned by the likes of Chuma Okeke? The 6'8" auburn forward had 17 points and 14 rebounds while Donta managed just 2 dunks and 8 rebounds in 34 minutes. Once again, we played Donta and Galen together at the same time for three comical minutes. Perhaps Riley could have helped defend the rim or protect the ball in the second half, but we'll never know as he was only allowed to play 16 minutes.
T-Mack made a 3 to tie the game late and give us some hope, but we couldn't get a stop.
Kira was our leading scorer with 13 points and generally played a solid game, but putting the game in the 17 year old's hands in that situation at the end was probably just asking too much. After Kira's turnover, they got another uncontested layup, and then Kira threw it away again. If you're keeping score at home, that's 2 offensive turnovers and two uncontested layups conceded in the final minute with the game on the line.
JP had 8 points and 9 rebounds but an atrocious 6 turnovers. Herb did a much better job of finishing at the rim and he seemed to be playing with more confidence, but also coughed it up 4 times. T-Mack was in double digits with 10 points, making a 3 in the early run to take the big lead and another at the end to tie the game before the obligatory implosion.
The crowd was solid and into the game, I would guess close to 11,000 with probably 1,000 or so auburn fans scattered throughout. Trendon Watford was in attendance and frankly looked bored most of the time. He did acknowledge the students chanting his name, and I was very impressed that he took the time to have his picture taken with several young kids. He seems like a good guy, and I really hope he chooses to come to Alabama, but I wish him the best in whatever he decides to do.
Thanks to a God-awful bubble, our NCAA tournament hopes are still somehow very much alive. If we can win our final game we will at least have a chance, add one in the SEC tournament and we are still probably in good shape.
Up next, that final critical game in Fayetteville, Arkansas against the Razorbacks. Tip-off is set for 5pm Saturday on the SEC Network.
If I were a religious man, I would give up Alabama basketball for lent. Maybe I will anyway. Happy Fat Tuesday/Mardi Gras/Carnival or whatever.