On a night when the rest of the country was focused on football, the Alabama Crimson Tide (4-4) traveled to Tampa to face the South Florida Bulls (6-2) in a big non-conference matchup.
Anthony Grant and the Tide suffered their second close loss in a little over a week after falling to the Bulls 66-64.
The game proved to be a back-and-forth contest in which Alabama could simply never take control.
The Crimson Tide jumped out to an early lead, but surrendered it right before half to the Bulls. Alabama’s lack of offense once again proved to be a big contributor to their inability to finish close games.
Sophomore guard Retin Obasohon led the Tide in scoring with 20 points in 36 minutes on the floor. Senior guard Trevor Releford also anchored Alabama for most of the game with 17 points and 5 rebounds before fouling out late in the second half. Levi Randolph and Nick Jacobs added 12 and 10 points respectively. Freshman forward Jimmie Taylor was the only starter for the Tide who failed to reach double figures. Taylor didn’t score and was limited to just 15 minutes of play after getting into foul trouble.
Shannon Hale and Rodney Cooper were the only other players to fill the scoring column scoring a combined 5 points off the bench.
USF foward Chris Perry contributed in a big way for the Bulls. He finished with a double-double on the night, scoring 14 points and grabbing 14 rebounds. Forward Victor Rudd led the Bulls in scoring with 15 points.
The Tide’s hot hand from Wednesday night was completely absent. Alabama regressed to shooting just 39% from the field and 28.6% from 3-point range. That coupled with being out rebounded by USF 39-31 contributed to the Tide’s lack of success on the night.
Saturday night’s loss marks another though loss in the month of December for head coach Anthony Grant. Grant is 14-14 in the month of December since taking the Alabama job at the beginning of the 2009 season. Although five of those losses came to teams that were ranked at the time, Grant’s struggles in December are well documented.
Although it is extremely too early to write off Alabama’s NCAA Tournament chances, losses like this one don’t bode well at all. South Florida doesn’t have a quality win on their schedule and they were blown out by No. 5 Oklahoma State in late November.
Unless the Crimson Tide can find a way to upset one of their remaining high profile non-conference opponents like UCLA or Wichita State, it could be a very uneventful post season for the Tide.
Alabama will return home to face Charleston Southern (3-4) on Saturday, December 14 at 7:30pm CT. Radio coverage will be provided, as always, on local affiliates by the CTSN.
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