The term “ugly win” is tossed around way too often... but it was an apt description after Saturday night’s debacle.
"It was ugly [...] whoever got to 50 first was going to win." - Billy Kennedy
“We’re still a work in progress on offense.” - Avery Johnson
“The whole game was kind of foggy." - Tyler Davis
“I attended this game in person, and the horrors of this offensive disaster will haunt me forever” - gigthem08
Let’s hit the gory details.
The gory details
I arrived a few minutes late, and I saw a Tyler Davis layup to cut the lead to 7-5 as I took my seat. It was a nice basketball play, and it led to a basket. “Maybe, I’ll see another nice basketball play,” I thought.
There were eight total points over the next twelve minutes of game action.
Do you want more first half details? That was rhetorical - you’re getting more details.
- The halftime score was 21-19, Alabama
- Alabama shot 7-22 (31%)
- Texas A&M said “hold my beer” and shot 7-30 (23%)
- The teams combined to shoot 1-12 from beyond the arc
- There were 16 total turnovers and 8 assists
It was the closest thing I’ve seen to a 0-0 tie on the basketball floor.
The second half was played at a “low scoring, but not historically low scoring” level, which at least allowed the game to scrape into the 50’s.
Mixing it up
Kennedy deployed an extended zone defense that gave Alabama fits, and that allowed us to build an early second half advantage that we never relinquished. He also gave Eric Vila extended action (15 minutes, 5 points) and cut bait from Collins after a couple of early turnovers; instead giving those minutes to a solid (if unspectacular) Chase Carlton.
In a world where the status quo was submitting less than a point a minute, it was nice to see us try something different.
The ultimate deciding factor was our ability to get to the line. We attempted twenty eight more free throws than the Tide, and we shot at a decent enough clip to make the advantage stick (26 for 37). That was important, because we only hit fourteen field goals on the evening.
Alabama made a late push, but a 7-8 finish from the stripe and a Tonny Trocha-Morelos blocked three pointer secured the victory.
New York, New York?
This win revived our NIT bid, as Alabama had a quietly strong NCAA resume. There are 32 total teams in the NIT, and there are seven SEC teams currently in the mix. Here are the latest updates for the conference (SEC record in parenthesis):
#1 Vanderbilt (9-7)
#1 Georgia (8-8)
#2 Ole Miss (9-7)
#3 Tennessee (7-9)
#4 Alabama (9-7)
#6 Auburn (6-10)
#8 Texas A&M (7-9)
Granted, this could all change based on the NCAA bubble activity over the next two weeks, but we’re in. We’re not in by much... but we’re in.
Contrary to popular belief, I think making the NIT matters this year. A good program never falls below the NIT floor, even in their dark years, and an appearance in that tournament would be a decent result this season given the circumstances. That’s not a glowing approval of the Kennedy era as a whole, which we’ll touch on in more detail in the coming weeks, but it would be a nice enough reward in a season deeply affected by injury and NCAA eligibility issues.
We’ve got two games left (@Mizzou and Kentucky) before the SEC Tournament.