Bama dropped a hard fought game in Starkville to fall to 15-13 (7-8). The Tide will need to win their last three games now to have any chance at getting an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament.
The big story from this game is John Petty's injury. He left the game with a wrist injury late in the first half and did not return. We should be hearing X-Ray and/or MRI results at some point today.
Prior to JP's injury it was a back and forth game, with an up-tempo pace to Alabama's liking. We had a nice inside-out game going in the first and shot the ball well from the perimeter. Unfortunately, we had no answer for $tate's bigs all night. JD and Galin did little to slow them down, Alex struggled on both ends, and when JP went down we were severely out-manned defensively.
We only trailed by 2 at the half, but after shooting 8 of 17 from 3 point range in the first half, we missed our first 12 threes in the second. That, combined with our inability to slow down the Bulldogs post game, allowed $tate to build a modest lead. We had a couple of chances to get back in the game late, but we couldn't make a free throw and $tate finally put it away.
Nobody can question the effort of this team. We were even in rebounding despite being terribly undersized and left with a short bench. We limited the turnovers to 11, but the woeful 8 of 15 free throw shooting and lack of defense was too much to overcome.
Kira was the leading scorer with 29 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 assists to 3 turnovers. Shack scored 17 points despite only making 2 of 7 threes, and was the leading rebounder with 9. Beetle had 11 points including a couple of big 3s in the first half. I feel like he wore himself out and was maybe a bit tired in the second half and his shots stopped falling. He played 34 minutes due to JP's injury, and that is a lot for a super-high energy guy like Beetle. Herb fouled out in 23 minutes but was the only bright spot on defense when he was in the game.
Alex only had 5 points in 24 minutes and had four turnovers. He was making some really head-scratching decisions. If the defender does not fall for his head fake, he needs to pass it off or try to shoot over him, anything but put it on the floor, he's not going to beat any properly positioned defender on the dribble. Several times he seemed to have his mind made up instead of reading the defense and dribbled into traffic.
I did not attend this game, (I'm getting too old to do 2+ hr drives for weeknight games that start at 8 pm), but I talked to a friend who went and said we had a good crowd there including about 100 students. The place looked empty on TV, which I thought was a little surprising given this game was hyped as a battle of two bubble teams.
Up next, a very good South Carolina team will come to Tuscaloosa for a 7:30 pm tipoff Saturday evening. The true "must win" games start now, and we'll need a big crowd to help the guys get back on track. It will be televised on SEC Network.