Predictably, Alabama was eliminated from the SEC tournament in a 73-55 loss that drops them to 18-15 (8-10) on the season.
We stuck with the same starting lineup that scored about 6 points in the first 8 minutes against Ole Miss. They fared a little better in at least ugly-ing up the game and keeping it close through the first media timeout. The turning point came when we forced a turnover and should have had a transition opportunity. Instead Herb derped it up and turned it over, creating a fast break chance for the Cats. To his credit, he recovered with great effort to foul and prevent a layup, but unfortunately he caught the guy in the head and was called for a flagrant. That seemed to wake the sleeping giant.
For some reason we tried to run with them, even with 2 centers on the court. The faster pace predictably led to a flurry of turnovers. Kentucky went on a 17-4 run and the game was never really in doubt.
Alex came in off the bench and hit a couple of 3s as we made a run in the first half to cut the deficit to 6. Kentucky answered and took a double digit lead into the half.
I want to talk a bit about the clock management at the end of the first half. We had the ball with a minute to play down 9. Alex misses a 3 with 50 seconds left, I'm thinking, "okay, good, at least we went 2 for 1." UK scores with 25 seconds left to go up 11. We should be holding the ball for the final shot at that point, but for some reason T-Mack jacks up a 3 with 25 seconds still left in the half. We're lucky enough to get the rebound, then Kira jacks up another one 5 seconds later. I mean, what in the hell? Do we not have one coach competent enough on the bench to get someone's attention and yell "ONE SHOT!?" We then pick up an unnecessary foul and give them another point at the line. Next, Dazon drives in and draws a foul, again leaving 3 seconds on the clock. Thankfully UK's shot at the buzzer came up just short, or that terribly mis-managed situation could have ended up a lot worse than it was.
We generally did a better job handling the ball in the second half, but the defense couldn't get stops and Kentucky just methodically pulled away and the game was never in doubt.
We kept trying to attack the basket and their bigs were dominant in defending the rim. They ended up with 11 blocks. Alex was our leading scorer with 15 points, making 3 of 6 from 3 point range. Donta had 14 points but only 6 rebounds. He was a perfect 8 for 8 from the line. One positive in this game was we actually shot 15 of 19 from the charity stripe.
We went back to the 10 man rotation and nobody played more than 30 minutes. At one point in the first half we had AJ, Galin, and Herb all in the game at the same time.
Regardless, I don't think it mattered much what we tried to do in this game. At the end of the day, we don't have a single player that could start for them, and I'm not even sure we have more than one or two that would break into their playing rotation. They are a talented, national championship contender who was motivated to avenge a previous loss in front of their home fans.
Up next, selection Sunday. The bubble is so weak this year I think we have an outside shot at playing in Dayton next week. The NCAA selection show will be on CBS at 5:30 pm CST. The NIT selection show will follow at 7:30 p.m. on ESPNU. If our name doesn't appear on the former, someone text me and let me know who we are playing and when in the latter, as I'll be watching the Birmingham Iron game instead at that point.