Alabama Basketball: Tide fails late and Nate Oats says it is on him

Alabama basketball came up just short on the road against Penn State. The close loss drops the Tide record to 4-5 on the season.

Alabama basketball lost to a good team on the road Saturday afternoon. The result, losing 73-71 to the 8-2 Nittany Lions carries no shame. Penn State has not lost at home this season. The Nittany Lions also have wins over Georgetown, Syracuse and No. 4 ranked, Maryland.

How the Crimson Tide lost is hard for Alabama basketball fans to accept. With just over five seconds left and an inbounds play upcoming, Nate Oats wanted the ball to go to Kira Lewis Jr. Penn State denied Kira the ball. Alex Reese ended up with the ball, but he stumbled while driving to the basket. Reese tried to get off a shot but it turned into a  turnover as the clock expired.

Cecil Hurts reported Nate Oats’ post-game comments.

If I’d had another time out, I’d have called it. That’s not on Reese. That’s on me for not having us in a better play.

Coach Oats deserves credit for taking the blame and not letting it fall on one of his players. There is no doubt Nate Oats has made Alabama basketball a tougher out. His team is physically tough. It is not always mentally tough. It too often makes foolish mistakes. John Petty Jr. and Javian Davis were on the bench too many minutes Saturday, due to foul trouble.  Petty’s fourth was a bad decision on a reach-in. Petty finished with seven points in 20 minutes of play.

The Crimson Tide was led in scoring by Beetle Bolden with 15 points off the bench. Alex Reese added 12 points.

Penn State shot 26 free throws, making 19. The Crimson Tide shot only 14, making just eight. Foul disparity happens against road teams, but more obvious was the toughness of the Penn State defense, executed with few fouls.

Another set of numbers that explain the loss is the offensive weakness of Kira Lewis and Herbert Jones. Combined, the pair was 6-for-30, for 13 points. As a team, 35 percent from the floor, including 26.5 percent on threes and 57 percent at the line will not win many road games – no matter how hard Nate Oats’ team plays. A positive was only 10 turnovers for the game.

Next: Will returning juniors make 2020 Tide Champions?

What is next is Samford in Birmingham and Belmont in Huntsville. The Crimson Tide needs every win it can muster.


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