Alabama basketball needed a win over Tennessee to stop a two-game losing streak. It looked as though good was coming by threes, but the Vols had another plan.
For a half Tuesday night, it looked as though good was coming from made threes by Alabama basketball. The Crimson Tide was 7-for-16, good for 44 percent from outside the arc. Even with a late, first-half spurt by the Vols, the Crimson Tide led by eight at the break.
The second-half was a different game. Credit Rick Barnes for igniting his team’s defense. In the end, the only thing tied to three for the Tide was a third straight loss. The Tide’s long-range accuracy dipped to 36 percent in the second-half. The cooler shooting did not determine the outcome in the one-point loss. The Vols were zero percent, shooting eight, second-half threes.
The game was lost by the Crimson Tide in three ways. Two can be explained. One cannot. Turnovers were a major reason. The Tide’s loose ball-handling actually began in the first half and resulted in 20 turnovers to 13 for the Vols. Alabama basketball was minus-7 in points off turnovers.
Another major problem was rebounding. Tennessee had a 42-33 rebounding advantage, including plus-9 in offensive rebounds. John Petty Jr. snagged 11 boards for the Tide. He did not get enough help. The Tide trio of 6-foot-9 players combined for only nine rebounds. All three did foul out. Javian Davis was lost at 4:30; Alex Reese at 4:05 and Galin Smith at 1:55.
The third major problem would have seemed normal if the Crimson Tide had been the road team. Tennessee shot 32 free throws. The Tide shot eight. The Vols were a whopping plus-18 at the foul line. Nate Oats took exception to some calls. To his credit, after the game, he did not blame officiating for the foul-shooting discrepancy.
I thought some of the (fouls) were dumb. We just put two hands on a guy, sometimes. It was a foul. You pushed him with two hands. That’s a foul.
Oats did not say it, but there were also some foolish, frustration, reach-in fouls. The fifth fouls on Davis and Reese were examples. He did call some of the turnovers “mind-boggling,” adding,
I don’t have an answer on some of them. It’s just, playing fast, maybe you have more turnovers but again we played as fast at Buffalo and we were in the top 10 or top 25 in turnover percentage on offense.
In the video below, Nate Oats admits not having some answers, but he clearly is determined to find them.
Alabama basketball may not be an NCAA Tournament team this season. At 12-10, the Tide probably has to win seven of the next nine games to get in. Still, Nate Oats is building a stronger basketball program for the Crimson Tide.