By Chris DePew
Jan. 30, 2016
Alabama battled foul trouble and cold shooting all evening but never found a way over the hump as South Carolina evened the season series with a 78-64 home victory.
What did we learn today?: Why the Gamecocks are undefeated in their home gym. Alabama got whistled for a season-high 30 fouls five days after Mississippi State accumulated 32 fouls at Colonial Life Arena. Those are the two least foul-prone teams in the SEC, but they’re in good company. Missouri (24), Vanderbilt (25) and Memphis (41) all found themselves on the wrong end of January whistle-fests in Columbia. Most of the credit goes to USC, which prides itself on physical, aggressive play and building winning margins at the foul line. But whatever your opinion of the officiating, it certainly disrupted Alabama’s rotation and took away its ability to effectively trap on defense and screen on offense. Four different players fouled out for the Crimson Tide.
What were the biggest concerns?: A pair of former four-star recruits that can’t be found with a telescope. Sophomore Justin Coleman and junior Jimmie Taylor hit collective rock bottom, going scoreless in 34 combined minutes. Coleman managed four assists but was 0-for-5 from the field and a liability on defense. Taylor seemed like a candidate to lose his starting job but got the call again and promptly disappeared again, lasting only 14 minutes due to fouls and ineffectiveness. He finished with one missed shot and four rebounds, and is averaging just 4.5 points per game in SEC play. At this point it would be no surprise if one or both players transferred out after the season, either on their own or with encouragement from coach Avery Johnson.
What was the best part of the game?: Shannon Hale played with the most energy he’s shown in months, and could have finished with much more than 16 points if not for foul trouble that benched him for large stretches of the first half. He may never be an efficient shooter (5-for-17 from the field Saturday), but his return to form is Bama’s best hope for a February turnaround and bodes well for next year, when Alabama will need his senior leadership.
Who was the star?: Retin Obasohan tried to carry the Tide back into the game by himself down the stretch and came tantalizingly close. After coming back in with the Gamecocks up 15 and threatening a blowout, he scored 14 consecutive points for Bama, which got within six points before fading at the end. He finished with 23 points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals. It will be criminal if he doesn’t wind up somewhere on the All-SEC team.
What’s next?: Bama’s best shot at an SEC road win comes Tuesday at Mississippi State, with the SEC Network on hand for an 8 p.m. tipoff.
Follow Chris DePew on Twitter @TideFansChris
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