Down 14 points in the first half and on the verge of being blown out at No. 24 Oregon, Alabama rallied for an improbable late lead but gave up the game’s last nine points in a 65-56 loss that extended the Ducks’ home court win streak to 31 games.
What did we learn today?: Any lasting offensive success for the Crimson Tide has to come from the inside out. Coach Avery Johnson continues to insist this is a better 3-point shooting team than it has shown, but the evidence just doesn’t bear that out. Bama was only modestly successful from long range at best before Sunday’s humiliating 2-for-19 showing in Eugene, where only Corban Collins (2-for-6) sank a trey. By contrast, Bama sank better than 56 percent of its two pointers, whether it was Dazon Ingram driving to the rim or Donta Hall cleaning up the glass for put-back dunks. The Ducks are the nation’s best shot-blocking team and they did swat away eight attempts, but Bama still outscored them 42-24 in the paint.
What were the biggest concerns?: Alabama has several players who could step up on any given night, but no one it can rely on who will carry the scoring load every game. Ingram is the most likely to grow into that role but he was missing in action most of the first half, didn’t call his own number as much as he probably should have and finished with just one assist. Fellow freshman Braxton Key got humbled, finishing with five turnovers against just six points. Riley Norris surprisingly did not start even with Nick King (illness) left behind in Tuscaloosa and was held scoreless despite playing a team-high 29 minutes (although he did manage a season-high seven rebounds). The Tide fell behind thanks to a rash of turnovers before settling down midway through the first half. But while Alabama only committed five more turnovers (18-13), Oregon easily won the battle of points off turnovers (21-12) to mirror its margin of victory.
What was the best part of the game?: Tacoma, Wash., native Ar’Mond Davis hasn’t been the 3-point specialist Bama thought it was getting when it signed him out of junior college. But he still acquitted himself well in his return to the Pacific Northwest, racking up 10 points and a pair of steals.
Who was the star?: Hall blossomed in his first college start, making seven of his nine shots to finish with 14 points and seven rebounds. Although he hadn’t done much to separate himself from senior Jimmie Taylor before Sunday, clearly the sophomore is the future and it was good to see him get a chance to do more. With Bama desperate for an offensive identity, maybe his breakout is something Johnson can build on.
What’s next?: Alabama gets a one-game breather from major conference competition when it hosts USC Upstate on Thursday. The 7 p.m. Central game will be streamed online via the Watch ESPN app on SEC Network-Plus.