Alabama Basketball: A ‘gutsey’ Tide lost to Auburn in overtime

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

Alabama basketball dug a huge hole in Auburn Arena and then fought back gamely before losing to the Tigers in overtime Wednesday night.

Some recent Alabama basketball teams would have laid down at 16 for Auburn and zero for the Tide. Not Nate Oats’ first Crimson Tide team. There is no quit in this bunch. Sometimes, there is not enough defense in them either. Auburn owned the paint Wednesday night. The Tigers scored 44 points in the paint, many of them on direct drives to the rim. The Tigers also out-rebounded the Tide, 60-44.

The other result of forcing the basketball into the paint was three Tide players fouled out. Auburn also shot 23 more free throws than did the Tide, giving them plus-17 points at the line. Winning on the road is hard in the SEC, but Auburn earned their free throws. There were no gifts by the officials.

The main reason Nate Oats’ Alabama basketball team never quit was – Nate Oats. He has quickly instilled a level of determination that had been lacking. There is almost no way to open a game, down 16 before you score, then get dominated on the glass and significantly outscored at the line – and have any chance to win.

Nate Oats’ well-designed offensive schemes and player execution led to 59 three-point attempts, a new SEC record. The Tide made 22, good for 37 percent. One or two more in the last five minutes of regulation and the Tide would have won before the game went into overtime.

In the last 4:52 of regulation, the Tide made only 2-of-12 shots. Kira Lewis hit the first one at 3:58. John Petty hit the second with 14 seconds left in regulation, tying the game at 81-81.

The overtime was much like the rest of the game. The Tide made three from outside the arc while missing five threes (six, counting Petty’s heave at the buzzer) and added one free throw. Auburn in overtime made three layups, a dunk and six free throws.

Reported by Cecil Hurt, Nate Oats talked about all the long balls,

"Probably a few too many, to be honest with you. We need a few more paint touches."

When Oats made that comment, he surely did not mean the dribble- drives by Beetle Bolden that Austin Wiley swatted away like a gnat. For the record, The Tide shot just 32 percent from inside the arc and almost all of them were in the paint, most near the rim. Oats admitted allowing Austin Wiley 17 rebounds was not good enough.

What’s next for Alabama basketball? At 13-11, there is little margin for more losses. Fourteen losses will be okay with a win over LSU or Mississippi State. Having Herbert Jones back for a few minutes (seven) was a boost Wednesday night. At a possible 15-20 minutes on Saturday, Jones could be the difference in beating LSU.

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Jaden Shackelford led the Tide in scoring with 28 points. John Petty Jr. had 20 points. Kira Lewis Jr. added 10 points, 10 rebounds and 13 assists.