Alabama Basketball: Tide drops five straight, losing to the Aggies 68-66


Alabama basketball lost another must-win game to close the SEC regular season. Can the Post-Season turn the Tide?

Good was mixed with bad as Alabama basketball stumbled, struggled and fought to a two-point SEC road loss in College Station. Some Alabama basketball fans will blame the loss on officiating. A TAMU player was ejected but the Tide and the Aggies each shot a pair of free throws due to dual technicals. The game’s outcome might have hinged on the referee decisions. But when a road team shoots 31 free throws, that road team cannot use officiating as an excuse for a loss.

Alabama basketball lost to TAMU because it did not value possessions well enough and at the end ran out of them. That EVERY possession matters has not been learned by this Alabama basketball team. Unforced errors and bad fouls lose more games than missed shots. Against the Aggies, the Tide only made 13 turnovers. Make 11 or maybe even 12 and the Tide wins.

Dazon Ingram fouled out early

Dazon Ingram made a foolish fifth foul with 8:04 left in the game. The Tide fought back from a nine-point deficit without him but his rebounding was missed. Avery Johnson Jr. played just nine minutes while missing two threes early in the clock. The result was two more possessions wasted by the Tide. Galin Smith was 0-4 from the foul line.

Braxton Key battled hard in the second half and pulled down 6 rebounds, hit big free throws late but was 1-for-7 from the floor. John Petty got eight rebounds but also made three turnovers. Collin Sexton and Donta Hall led the Tide offense. Sexton scored 23 while Hall got 12 points.

For most of the second half, the group of Sexton, Hall, Petty, Key, Galin Smith and Alex Reese fought hard. Not having Herbert Jones (concussion) hurt the Tide defensively. As expected, the physically bigger and stronger Aggies won the rebounding battle but not by much. The difference was only six boards, 46-40. TAMU had only a slight edge in offensive rebounds (two) and points in the paint with four more points inside. The Aggies had a six-point advantage in second-chance points.

Can Avery learn less can be more?

In the end, a lot of little things determined the outcome. It was a tough loss. Did it offer Alabama basketball fans any reason for SEC and NCAA Tournament hope? Our opinion is not much, but some. Avery’s second-half substitution pattern seemed more coherent than normal. We will not point to a reason, but the Tide looked more fluid without Avery Jr. or Giddens in the game. Even the unfortunate loss of Ingram appeared to make Petty and Key more active.

When Herbert Jones returns, an eight-man rotation of Sexton, Ingram, Key, Petty, Hall, Jones, Reese and Smith could win some SEC Tournament games. If there are any player chemistry problems, perhaps the rotation should be only seven players.

A few fans believe one win gets the Tide an NCAA bid. Most believe it will take two wins. We worry it might take three wins.

It is too late to rebuild team strategy. Avery is going to ride Sexton’s skills in almost every half-court set. A new level of crispness in those sets will not suddenly appear. Which is all the more the reason this Tide team needs to place more value on each and every possession. And that can start when they step on the court in St. Louis.

Next: 50 Best Alabama Football Players of All-Time

SEC Tournament seeding will be determined after three Saturday night games. The Tide will probably not play in the opening round but after five late losses, nothing is guaranteed.