Alabama Basketball: Tide loses, what happened and why

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports
Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports /

Alabama Basketball: Crimson Tide lost a close game to Western Kentucky Saturday afternoon in Tuscaloosa. Check out what happened and why.

For the Alabama basketball team, Western Kentucky proved too much. The Hilltoppers, now 6-2, are a good team with a possible NBA first-round selection in Center, Charles Bassey.

Bassey had his way with the Crimson Tide, scoring 27 points on 11-for-14 shooting while adding 12 rebounds. Points-in-the-paint favored WKU, who poured in 42, while the Crimson Tide scored 28. Herbert Jones and Jordan Bruner led All Alabama basketball scorers with 16 and 14 points. respectively.

The Hilltoppers did not have to rely on three-point shooting to win. They took just 11 shots outside the arc, making only three. The Crimson Tide again struggled with threes, making only 27 percent, going 7-for-26.

Both teams were good at the foul line and poor at turnovers. WKU won the turnover stat with 17 to the Tide’s 19. Bassey gave WKU the winning margin with a layup that the Tide was ruled as having goal-tended. Herbert Jones had a chance to tie but missed a layup at the 14-second mark. WKU rebounded the miss and dribbled out the clock.

That is what happened in the game. Comments from Nate Oats are next, followed by an opinion on ‘why’ the ‘what’ happened.

Nate Oats made these comments after the game.

"For everything that’s gone wrong, if we make some shots, beginning of the season is a lot different.We’ve got too many guys reluctant to move the ball. Kira created a lot of offense for these guys last year but he’s not here. So we’ve got to figure it out. Coaching staff, players, everybody."

The opinion of this long-time Alabama basketball fan is that a pattern has emerged. The Nate Oats’ ‘Rims and 3s’ system can work when multiple guys are hot outside the arc. When the 3s are dropping, and the pace of play is stressing an opponent, the Crimson Tide are hard to beat. When the team shoots less than 35 percent outside the arc, the Tide’s dribble-drive game cannot make up the difference. Penetration and drawing fouls do not make up for the too often, inability to finish at the rim.

Western Kentucky beat the Crimson Tide because the Hilltoppers took more, ‘less-difficult’ shots than did the Alabama basketball team. The Crimson Tide took more, ‘more difficult’ shots than did WKU. In a close game, the extra six points in percentage of shots made; WKU at 45 percent to the Tide at 39 percent decides the outcome.

Out-rebound an opponent, turn the ball over less than the opponent and a single-digit deficit in shooting percentage can be overcome. In the Oats’ system, the Tide’s pace should lead to more shot attempts than opponents. WKU took four more shots than the Tide.

The season is still young. Conclusions would be premature. But the still to be answered question is can a team that undervalues possessions win against top teams? WKU is a tough team, but Alabama basketball has better opponents ahead. The current version of ‘Rims and 3s’ is not good enough to beat top teams.

Next. Aubies Mired in Mediocrity. dark

In defense of the Alabama basketball team, Tide players played hard on defense against WKU. There were some defensive breakdowns, but lack of effort did not cause the loss.