Assessing Alabama Basketball through its four losses


Alabama basketball is enjoying a historic season, but it will all be for naught if the Crimson Tide doesn’t make substantial postseason noise. Barring a dramatic late-season meltdown, Alabama will secure a high seed in the NCAA tournament and a relatively favorable path to the Final Four in Houston.

Alabama has been an elite team all year, but will enter the postseason with a target on its back and must remain focused to avoid an upset. By assessing Bama’s four losses, we can gauge some of its weaknesses and the way opposing teams could attack it in March.

Alabama Basketball: UConn Loss

Alabama’s first loss came at the hands of UConn in the Phil Knight Invitational Tournament back on November 25th. The Crimson Tide’s 21 turnovers were its Achilles’ Heel in the 82-67 defeat.

Additionally, UConn center Adama Sanogo controlled the paint. Bama’s big man rotation of Charles Bediako, Noah Clowney, Noah Gurley, and Nick Pringle combined to score just 14 points, while Sanogo poured in 25 for the Huskies.

Alabama Basketball outrebounded UConn and shot similar percentages, but 21 turnovers makes it very difficult to win a high-level college basketball game. Fortunately, it seems that Bama fixed that early-season issue as it got into conference play.

Alabama Basketball: Gonzaga Loss

Gonzaga was Alabama’s second loss, taking down the Tide 100-90 in a high-scoring neutral site matchup in Birmingham. The clear deficiency in this game was defense, which was something neither team opted to play on December 17th.

Gonzaga shot 57 percent from the field and had six double-figure scorers. Alabama shot 52 percent in its own right, but had just two double-figure scorers and leaned too heavily on Brandon Miller’s 36 points. The Crimson Tide once again committed 21 turnovers, a fatal sin against one of the only teams in the country capable of out-scoring Alabama.

Outside of Brandon Miller, Bama shot just 2-14 from three-point range. Mark Sears had one of his worst games of the season, shooting 1-8 from the field. Rylan Griffen, who is now one of the Tide’s most important players, had not yet been fully integrated into the rotation and played just nine minutes.

Alabama Basketball: Oklahoma Loss

Alabama’s bizarre January loss to Oklahoma represented an uncharacteristic game from both teams. Like Gonzaga, Oklahoma shot 57 percent from the field against Alabama. These two data points are the highest FG percentages allowed by Bama all season.

In fact, no other team has even reached 50 percent against the Tide, and only two other teams have shot over 45 percent (vs Mississippi State, at South Carolina). The Sooners went 9-13 from three-point range in the game, and its starters went 8-9 from downtown.

The 93-69 beatdown saw Alabama Basketball struggle on both ends of the floor. While Oklahoma was making everything, Bama shot just 37 percent from the field and went just 6-22 from the outside. No one for Alabama shot well with the exception of Rylan Griffen, who scored a team-high 15 points.

Alabama Basketball: Tennessee Loss

Alabama’s only SEC loss this season came on the road at Tennessee. Rick Barnes’ team was able to make the game ugly and Bama did not respond well, losing 68-59.

The Vols’ physicality got Alabama out of character, and the Crimson Tide reverted to its early season turnover issues. Bama committed 19 turnovers and shot just 35 percent, its second-lowest mark of the season. Tennessee shot just 36.5 percent, but was clearly the more comfortable team and did a much better job of protecting the basketball.

With the exception of Oklahoma, all of Alabama’s losses have come against quality opponents. According to the latest Bracketology projections, UConn (4-seed), Gonzaga (3-seed), and Tennessee (3-seed) are all considered to be among the nation’s best teams.

Clearly, Alabama’s biggest issue in its losses has been turnovers. Brandon Miller and Jahvon Quinerly have been some of the worst offenders, but all of Bama’s perimeter players have been plagued by the turnover bug.

The good news is that Alabama has done a much better job of limiting turnovers recently. Prior to the new year, Alabama had double-digit turnovers in all 13 games and averaged 16.6 giveaways per game.

In the 2023 calendar year, Bama has committed just 11.3 turnovers per game with five single-digit outings. The Tennessee game stands out as the only outlier in conference play, which raises the concern that opponents may try to copy that blueprint and bully Alabama.

The truth is, Alabama is typically the aggressor, and there are only a handful of teams in the nation even capable of doing to it what Tennessee did. Additionally, postseason games are played in neutral site venues, which eliminates the factor of home court advantage.

Next. Previewing Auburn. dark

In my opinion, unless an opponent goes unconscious from the field like Gonzaga or Oklahoma, it will be nearly impossible to beat Alabama Basketball on a neutral floor in March.