Alabama Basketball coach, Nate Oats warned that the 5-14, Georgia Bulldogs team would soon beat somebody they are not picked to beat. Oats was right and the ‘somebody’ was the Alabama Crimson Tide.
Georgia is not a good basketball team. The Bulldogs did not so much beat Alabama as the Crimson Tide beat themselves. The Crimson Tide led 45-36, with 18:40 left in the second half. The score was deceiving. Jaden Shackelford carried the Tide throughout the first half, scoring 16 points with five made threes. He needed more help in the second half. Little was provided.
Turnovers (19 of them), poor three-point shooting as a team (26%) and inconsistent defensive effort turned a lead into a loss. The turnovers led to 23 Georgia points. The Bulldogs shot 10 more free throws than the Tide and made 11 more with the Tide only 65% from the line as a team.
Fast-break points favored Alabama for two reasons. One reason was 25 defensive rebounds (the Tide had a total rebound advantage of 41-32). The other reason was Georgia had little interest in pushing the pace. Even with the Bulldogs’ patient offense, they produced 82 points.
Nate Oats tried again to get a boost by inserting walk-on Britton Johnson. It was worth a try. Johnson drew a charge, grabbed a rebound, and missed two treys in seven minutes of play.
Lack of solid defense was the biggest weakness for the Tide. In addition, it didn’t help that Jahvon Quinerly and Keon Ellis were a combined 2-for-12 outside the arc. More three-point woes came from 0-for-3, JD Davison; 0-for-3, Darius Miles, and 1-for-4 James Rojas.
It has been clear for weeks this season’s Crimson Tide plays ‘up to’ and ‘down to’ its opponent. Lately, ‘down to’ has been in the majority.
What’s next for Alabama Basketball?
At least, speaking after the game, Nate Oats took some blame.
"Disappointing loss, obviously, with Georgia being winless in the SEC. … The biggest problem is just our energy, our effort. As a head coach, that stuff comes back to me."
The energy and effort problem was not new. At this point, it must be asked – does Nate Oats know how to correct it?
Surely losing to Georgia means the Tide has hit bottom. If it has, there can be a bounceback. If there is to be one, it had better happen quickly. Whatever the oddsmakers decide, the Tide should not be favored in its next three games. In Baylor, Auburn and Kentucky, the Tide faces three teams that are far better than the Georgia Bulldogs.
After that run of tough games, the Alabama record could easily be 13-10. Then, the Tide’s remaining eight regular-season games will offer an opportunity to make up lost ground.
Knowing it will likely get worse before it gets better, Alabama fans are entitled to despair. At this point, not getting blown out by Baylor and Auburn might be enough.