By Chris DePew
Jan. 10, 2017
Alabama rallied from an 18-point deficit and took a surprising second-half lead on No. 23 Florida but was undermined by turnovers and rancid free throw shooting in an 80-67 loss at Coleman Coliseum.
What did we learn today?: Bama’s backcourt needs to grow up and grow stronger. Freshman Dazon Ingram had the worst game of his college career, with almost as many turnovers (7) as points (8). Normally an excellent rebounder, he finished with just two boards, two assists and got benched more than once for careless play. While he did make several trips to the foul line, he officially attempted (and made) one field goal. Fellow starter Avery Johnson Jr. was equally lost, shooting 1-for-7 from the field and finishing with three points, three assists and three turnovers. The physical Gators bullied Alabama’s guards all night from all points on the floor and the Crimson Tide meekly backed down or threw the ball away more often than not. Corban Collins didn’t offer much spark off the bench, going 1-for-6 from the floor and playing just 12 minutes before leaving after taking a nasty-looking elbow on a flagrant foul under Florida’s basket. The Gators lead the SEC in steals and swiped nine more Tuesday on their way to 27 points off turnovers.
What were the biggest concerns?: The Tide very nearly got booed off the floor in the first half for its listless play and abject futility at the stripe. Ten minutes into the game, Florida was on pace for 104 points and looked like it could name the score. Bama went 3-for-11 from the free throw line in the first half and had to make 11 of its last 15 just to close at 50 percent (16-for-32). While the team does work on foul shots in practice and undoubtedly will emphasize that more in the coming days, free throws are less about raw talent and more about the time and effort players put into perfecting that part of the game on their own time and in the offseason, even stretching back to their high school days and beyond. If even half of the Tide’s missed free throws had gone in, it would have been in contention until the final buzzer. Instead it got outscored 12-4 over the final 3:51 after Florida had retaken the lead and it was clear Bama had nothing left for another comeback try.
What was the best part of the game?: Seeing the lights click on for different players in sequence as they started scoring and became energized. First it was freshman Braxton Key going on a personal 7-2 run during the worst of the first-half malaise to point Bama in the right direction. Then Ar’Mond Davis sank a long 2-pointer before bringing the crowd to life with a 40-foot moon launch that went in as the shot clock expired on his way to a 10-point night. Finally, Donta Hall (6-for-6 field goals) caught fire after halftime, scoring eight of his 12 points and grabbing seven of his eight rebounds before fouling out.
Who was the star?: Key got 15 of his 25 points in the first half and for a time had the look of a man ready to carry his team to victory single-handedly before bumping his knee in traffic, which seemed to throw him off down the stretch. As is, he became the first Tide player to break the 20-point barrier and also pulled down five rebounds as Bama won the battle on the glass 37-30.
What’s next?: After its season-long four game win streak was snapped, the Crimson Tide looks to start a new one Saturday at LSU. Tipoff on the SEC Network is scheduled for 2:30 p.m.
Follow Chris DePew on Twitter @TideFansChris
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