Alabama Basketball: Crimson Tide found a new low in Tampa

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

For the Alabama basketball fans who for whatever reason missed the game against Vandy Thursday night – congratulations. What you missed, no Crimson Tide hoops fan wanted to see. Alabama lost 82-76 to Vanderbilt in the Tide’s opening SEC Tournament game. The defending SEC Tournament Champion, with too few exceptions, looked like a team having no business taking part in the upcoming NCAA Tournament.

With 2:28 left in the first half, the Crimson Tide led by 14. The margin was driven by four made threes by Jaden Shackelford. Even while building the lead the Crimson Tide was true to turnover form, with seven at that point of the game.

Vanderbilt kept playing, sometimes harder, often smarter. Even with three more turnovers during less than six second-half minutes, the Crimson Tide pushed its lead to 15 points at the 14:09 mark. Vanderbilt remained undeterred. Two minutes and 27 seconds later, the Crimson Tide lead was three points. In the interval, while the Dores scored, the Tide missed three shots and made two more turnovers. The rest of the way, the Crimson Tide played sporadically, while the Dores methodically crafted the upset win.

Except it was not that much of an upset, not for anyone having watched the Crimson Tide self-destruct in earlier games.  There are reasons why this Tide team was 8-10, after opening the SEC schedule with wins over Tennessee and Florida. One word sums up all the reasons – inconsistency.

Such inexplicable inconsistency is mind-boggling – an SEC defending, double-Champion becoming so bad in just one year.

Maybe a different performance would have happened on Friday against Kentucky. If not, the Crimson Tide that played Vandy Thursday night, would have been blown out by the Wildcats on Friday.

Nate Oats provided an accurate summation.

"We had 18 turnovers and couldn’t make a free throw…we just kept fouling Pippen."

Only one of three came as a surprise. The Crimson Tide makes more inexcusable turnovers than every other SEC team, and also about 230 other NCAA Division One teams. Not fouling Scottie Pippin Jr. must have been at the top of every list Nate Oats gave his team this week. Pippin shot 21 free throws in the game. Pippin was only 5-for-19 from the floor but scored 15 of his 26 points from the foul line. The only surprise was Alabama shooting a dismal 58.8% from the foul line.

Alabama Basketball – Vanderbilt Bix Score available here.

Some Alabama fans want to assign blame to players and to Nate Oats. More want answers about where the Tide’s downward trend will lead. Certainly, players, some more than others, have failed too frequently. Whether it is in roster development or reluctance to adjust schemes, Nate Oats has earned some blame. There were times against Vandy; when on offense, the Crimson Tide looked like a team that would struggle to win in the Sun Belt league.

Next. It's not easy being a Tide hoops fan. dark

In March, against a team with supposedly less talent, that won only seven regular-season, SEC games, Alabama was outmatched Thursday night. In SEC play, Vandy was the second-best team at defending threes. The Crimson Tide attempted 34 threes anyway. Jaden Shackelford was 6-for-16. The rest of the Tide was 2-for-18. Repeating an earlier conclusion, such mind-boggling inconsistency is inexplicable.