What did we learn today?: The Crimson Tide may have a more talented team than last year but it likely will finish further away from the NCAA tournament bubble. Bama is running out of chances to match last year’s surprising start in non-conference play, and its chances of building a legitimate case for March Madness may rest on an improbable sweep of its five remaining out of league games, beginning with a trip to No. 22 Oregon. Texas isn’t as powerful as it looked in the preseason, and the Longhorns are grateful just to snap a three-game losing skid. But while they’ll have a chance to enhance their resume in the Big XII, Bama plays in a mediocre conference where even 12 wins probably won’t be enough to impress the selection committee without something extra backing it up.
What were the biggest concerns?: Alabama had no answers in the second half as Texas redoubled its efforts to get the ball inside. Defensive frustration led to fouls, which led to the Horns erasing the lead at the stripe, going 22-for-30. And after taking meticulous care of the ball in the first 20 minutes, the Tide committed eight of its 12 turnovers after the half, leading to 15 points. Braxton Key struggled down the stretch, finishing with just two of his nine points in the second half and shooting 3-for-11 from the field. But frankly, no one else was stepping up to attempt many shots in the closing minutes. It might be unfair to put the burden on him and fellow freshman Dazon Ingram, but those are the only two Tide players one can easily picture in the regular rotation of a championship team.
Coach Avery Johnson’s post-game press conference
What was the best part of the game?: The first half might have been the best Alabama has played since last year’s upset win at LSU. It outrebounded Texas 17-15, it shot 48.4 percent from the floor, it had twice as many assists as turnovers and it had nine players in the scoring column. But all those positives only underline how bad things went after halftime. The Horns outrebounded Bama by eight for the game, they ended up shooting better than 47 percent from the floor after starting out 8-for-23 and they reversed the turnover numbers in the second half.
Who was the star?: Ingram got five of his six assists in the first half, but did buck the trend of Bama’s shooting slump in the second. Four of his five baskets came after intermission, as he finished with 12 points to go with six rebounds.
What’s next?: After a week off for final exams, Bama returns to the West Coast on Sunday, Dec. 11 to meet the Ducks. The 5 p.m. Central tipoff will again be on ESPNU.
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