The Crimson Tide dropped their second straight game without their two best post players, JaMychal Green and Tony Mitchell. Florida caught fire at the right time in Tuscaloosa and never looked back as the Gators edged the Tide 61-52 at Coleman Coliseum on Tuesday night.
Alabama held with the Gators for the first half and early in the second, but Florida (No. 12 ESPN/USA Today, No. 14 AP) would soon break through and never look back. Alabama’s weakness in the low post was exploited by Billy Donovan. The Gators looked to Patric Young for offensive production for most of the game.
Young finished with 19 points to lead all scorers, and three rebounds. Erik Murphy and Bradley Beal both accounted for 14 points. Beal lead the Gators with eight rebounds, seven coming on the defensive boards.
The Crimson Tide played close with Florida and the teams were tied at 26 at the half, but Alabama didn’t do the little things to win tonight. Looking at the stat sheet, both teams had very similar games. Alabama continued their poor shooting from outside, only converting on 25 percent of shots from behind the arc. Florida wasn’t very impressive percentage-wise either, shooting 40.4 percent from the field and 28.6 percent from outside.
Alabama won the rebounding battle and were sent to the line 24 times, but the Tide had issues from the line all night. The Tide is one of the best free throw shooting teams in the SEC; they have to convert from the line, but they didn’t. Alabama shot a miserable 50 percent from the stripe. This was a killer. How can you leave 12 free points off the board? The Tide didn’t do the easy things tonight and ultimately Florida was just the better team.
Andrew Steele was the only Alabama player in double digits with 11 points in 31 minutes of play. Trevor Releford finished with eight points, leading all players in minutes played with 33. Alabama’s bench outscored Florida’s 11-0.
Nick Jacobs only saw seven minutes of play after picking up two fouls in the first three minutes. With Jacobs out of the game, Florida began to attack the weak Alabama inside. I focused a lot on Florida’s great guard play, but they didn’t need a great performance from them tonight. Not many teams could be a top fifteen team without their two starting forwards, and that’s exactly what we saw tonight.
Anthony Grant’s teaching moments don’t come with a price. Alabama is now on the outside looking in. JaMychal Green and Tony Mitchell’s absence was greatly felt tonight. The Tide has proven they can win without Tony Mitchell, but without their leader inside, JaMychal Green? Even if JaMychal Green is allowed to return to the team, Alabama will be fighting an uphill battle.
“We were prepared for Florida,” Andrew Steele said. “Everything that happened this past weekend, we put it behind us and we moved on.” I think Steele is right, Alabama was prepared tonight, but it is hard to win without your two best post players.
If Alabama continues on their losing track, Anthony Grant will catch more and more ridicule about this situation. He is the coach; in college athletics, you have to submit to your authorities. Coach Grant has shown that he demands nothing less than respect. Many have suggested the situation with JaMychal Green and Tony Mitchell is deeper than it looks on the surface. That may be true, but both players need to be leaders. This is JaMychal Green’s third suspension in three years. I don’t care if you are going to the NBA or not, three suspensions in three years is a problem.
“We’re getting hit in the face with reality right now. How do we respond to that? To me, that’s where we are as a team right now.” The response will be key, I agree totally agree with Anthony Grant.
The newly revived Tennessee Volunteers will roll into Tuscaloosa on Saturday afternoon to face the struggling Tide. Tennessee has already upset Florida twice this season. Can the Tide get it together and stop their losing streak or will it continue?