In what is becoming a disturbing trend, the Alabama Crimson Tide once again couldn’t hang on to a second half lead and saw an inferior opponent come into Coleman Coliseum and pull the upset for the second straight game. After an embarrassing loss to Mercer last Saturday in Tuscaloosa, the Crimson Tide had over a week to get things together before their matchup with the Tulane Green Wave.
Well, it didn’t matter as the Tulane Green Wave scored a 53-50 win over the Crimson Tide to give Alabama its second straight brutal defeat to drop their record to 7-5 on the season.
Alabama controlled the game for the most part in the first half and took a 25-20 lead into the locker room thanks to a stifling defensive effort. Alabama employed a full court press into a 2-3 zone that flustered the Green Wave in the first half. To their credit, Tulane performed much better against it in the second half and were able to come out with the win.
The Crimson Tide held a 31-26 lead in the second half before their patented offensive drought led to a 10-0 Tulane run as the Crimson Tide went from leading by five to trailing by five with around 10-minutes to play.
Alabama seemed to get it together after that Tulane run as they battled back to take a six point lead with six minutes to play. Tulane hung around as the Crimson Tide couldn’t put them away. With Alabama leading by just one point with under two minutes to play, Green Wave senior guard Jordan Callahan came up huge with back-to-back three pointers to give Tulane a 50-45 lead with only 34-seconds to go.
Despite that, Alabama had multiple chances down the stretch to win or at least tie the game and sent it to overtime. After a pair of Rodney Cooper free throws brought Alabama within three, Tulane’s Ricky Tarrant missed the front end of a one-and-one, but Trevor Releford quickly gave it back with a mental mistake on a travel.
Even then, Trevor Lacey was able to knock down a three with with 12-seconds to play, and Tulane’s Josh Davis missed one of two free throws. With 9 seconds to play, Anthony Grant left a timeout in his pocket as all Alabama could manage was a long contested three point shot by Cooper that went begging.
Grant needed to call a timeout right there to draw up a play and at least try to get the ball in the hands of Trevor Lacey, or in the very least get someone open for a good open look from three to tie the game and sent it to overtime. Unfortunately, Grant’s failure to use a timeout and Alabama’s messy last possession is a microcosm of the Tide’s offensive struggles this year.
The bright side of this loss was the emergence of Nick Jacobs, who Alabama really needed to step up this evening. He delivered with 12 points, 10 of which came in the second half. Indefensibly, Grant put Jacobs on the bench after he got hot and started to assert himself.
Trevor Lacey didn’t have his best game, but he seemed to play harder than anyone on the court for the Tide with 12 points and 6 rebounds. Rebounding as a whole was a big problem for the Crimson Tide as Tulane won the battle of the boards. The Green Wave notched 13 offensive rebounds to give their offense a bevy of second and third chance opportunities to score.
Tulane shot only 36% from the field, but Alabama’s inability to clean up the defensive glass helped them get multiple shots on several offensive possessions.
You can point to the Tide’s injury struggles as the impetus for the last two defeats, but with or without Engstrom and Steele, Alabama simply cannot lose games at home to the likes of Mercer and Tulane.
Alabama’s 2013 NCAA Tournament hopes are certainly out the window, and it is a legitimate question as to whether or not this team will even be good enough at the end of the season to warrant an invite to the NIT. More concerning, questions are starting to rise about the future of this program and whether or not Anthony Grant is the right man for the job in Tuscaloosa. After the success of the last two seasons, I would have never thought Grant’s job would be in question this early, but an ugly 7-5 start is bringing about those questions, and rightfully so.
But that is where we are now. Alabama has one non-conference game remaining on Saturday against Oakland at Coleman Coliseum before they dive head first into SEC play on the road against Missouri on January 8th.
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