Why the Alabama Basketball November loss to Clemson doesn't matter

Alabama Basketball was overpowered by the Clemson Tigers in November, but the Crimson Tide was a different team then than it is now.

Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports
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There are many reasons why Alabama Basketball's November loss to Clemson is meaningless to predict an Elite Eight outcome. The biggest reason is Clemson has not played this Alabama Crimson Tide. After massive roster turnover, Alabama was searching for itself in November.

The Tide did not know what it was then, collectively and individually. The result was a streak of six games between Nov. 24 and Dec. 20 that produced four Crimson Tide losses. Later, in January Alabama found its offensive self. Defensively the discovery process took much longer.

When Clemson came to Tuscaloosa on Nov. 28, it was Alabama's third game in five days. With Alabama students on Thanksgiving break, the crowd in Coleman Coliseum was described by ESPN's Jay Williams as like one at a tennis match. In fairness, Alabama did not give the less-than-capacity crowd much to cheer about.

Against Clemson, Alabama missed its first nine three-point shots. Outside the arc in the first half, Alabama shot 22.2%. Better long-range shooting gave Alabama a second-half lead, but for the game, the Tide was just 31.4% outside the arc. Clemson is a good defensive team, not quite North Carolina good, but good primarily for its inside defense.

Alabama could have won in November, had Clemson not gone on a second-half three-point shooting tear. The Tigers hit 72.7% in the second period, making 8-of-11 threes. Clemson shot 52.4% from outside the arc in the game.

In November, Clemson started two 6'11" bigs. The Crimson Tide's starter at the '5' spot was Mohamed Wague. It was a mismatch in favor of Clemson. Wague played just 15 minutes, earning three rebounds and six points. Nick Pringle came off the Alabama bench to play 21 minutes. Pringle produced five rebounds and four points. Crimson Tide freshmen, Sam Walters and Jarin Stevenson combined for three points and one rebound in 15 minutes of play. The Tide trio of Aaron Estrada, Grant Nelson, and Rylan Griffen made only 5-of-20 three-point attempts.

Clemson played 10 guys, ranging from 12 minutes to 33 minutes. Only three of them played more than 21 minutes. While Clemson played one guy for more than 29 minutes, Alabama had three that played 30-plus minutes.

After the game, Nate Oats said Clemson's "physicality bothered us on both ends." Fatigue might have also been a factor in the Tide's poor second-half defense, as Clemson produced 1.625 points per possession.

A different Alabama team will battle Clemson on Saturday night. The Tigers will be no pushover, the Crimson Tide of now, should win.