A season marred by injury stumbled to its regular-season, home close Tuesday night as Alabama basketball went down to Vanderbilt in Tuscaloosa.
There was no joy in Tuscaloosa Tuesday night. Alabama basketball took its worst loss of the season, 87-79 to the SEC also-ran, Vanderbilt Commodores. Vanderbilt won just its second SEC game in two seasons. It could not have come at a worse time for the Crimson Tide.
Barring a highly improbable SEC Tournament Championship, any post-season play for Alabama basketball will be in the NIT. Now at 16-14, the Tide might not even get an NIT home game.
How the disappointing loss occurred is the Commodores made 15-of-28 shots outside the arc, for 53.6 percent. Saben Lee, who was nearly unstoppable for the Dores, scored 34 points, including 6-of-7 on threes.
The Crimson Tide shot eight more threes than the Dores and made three less. That is how to lose any basketball game. Jaden Shackelford who battled to 18 points for the Tide, was just 2-of-9 outside the arc. Alex Reese was worse, making his first three-ball, then missing all his others, a total of eight misses. Beetle Bolden’s three-point success kept the Tide competitive, making 7-of-12 while scoring 24 points. Kira Lewis Jr. led the Crimson Tide with 30 points.
Nate Oats had plenty to say after the loss. He was particularly displeased with his team’s defensive effort.
Nate Oats’ strongest quality is honesty. He is direct and does not avoid tough issues.
Oats also acknowledged his team’s failure to play hard enough was not new, something that concerned him going into the Vanderbilt game.
I tried to warn our guys. We’ve shown these tendencies before here. … We didn’t give max effort tonight. It’s not the first time we’ve done this, though.
One other note from Oats is telling. For a guy who forces tempo and loves shooting threes, he values fundamentals.
We’ve got to get some guys that can score in the paint a little bit.
The Alabama basketball season is not over. But, looking toward next season is now the focus. Will there be considerable roster turnover? Many Crimson Tide fans will be disappointed if there is not.