By Chris DePew
Feb. 25, 2017
Alabama’s perpetually struggling offense hit a new low for the season as the Crimson Tide wound up on the wrong end of a 56-53 score at Texas A&M Saturday night.
What did we learn today?: This is a mediocre to poor team that fattened its conference record on truly bad teams. Bama will finish no worse than .500 in the SEC, which is an improvement on last year, but six of its nine league wins came from sweeping cellar dwellers LSU, Missouri and Mississippi State. Against teams in its weight class, the Crimson Tide hasn’t shown much and indeed is getting worse on offense as the season limps to a close. In College Station, Bama scored less than 60 points and was held to 20 or less the first half for the fourth time in five games, as the Tide shot just over 33 percent from the floor for the second time in 48 hours. Things got so brutal that the announcers distracted themselves with extended riffs on Oscar contenders and how to properly tie shoes, and more than once quit announcing altogether, presumably out of boredom. If Avery Johnson and his staff are truly capable of coaching a successful offense they will have to wait until next season to show it. This poorly constructed roster is beyond salvaging.
What were the biggest concerns?: Instead of taking advantage of great defensive effort early, the Crimson Tide could only manage a 13-5 advantage midway through the first half. Texas A&M had just 21 points by halftime and no 3-pointers but still led by a bucket because the Aggies were attacking the basket and drawing fouls. That trend only grew more pronounced, as A&M wound up making 26 of its 37 free throws, while Alabama was just 7-for-9 from the line. Johnson was nonplussed by the discrepancy, but whistles almost always favor the more aggressive team. The Aggies barely had more field goals (14) than turnovers (12) but the Tide couldn’t grab control of a game that was there for the taking, in no small part because Dazon Ingram fouled out for the second straight game and Bama wilts whenever he doesn’t run the point down the stretch.
What was the best part of the game?: Seeing Riley Norris bounce back. After going scoreless in Thursday’s loss to Georgia, the junior swingman put on a clinic in busting a zone defense to start the game, sinking a jumper from just inside the foul line and then getting loose for a 3-pointer on the elbow (the only trey by either team in the first 20 minutes). Sadly Bama didn’t keep going to that well but Norris still finished with 10 points on 4-for-8 shooting before fouling out. By contrast, Alabama’s other three leading scorers were a combined 10-for-36 from the floor.
Who was the star?: Jimmie Taylor has never been as good a rebounder as his size would suggest, but while playing extended minutes for the foul-plagued Donta Hall he more than held his own against the oversized Aggies. Taylor got seven rebounds, blocked three shots and made his first three shots to finish with six points.
What’s next?: Ole Miss visits Coleman Coliseum for Senior Night on Wednesday in a matchup of teams currently tied for sixth in the league. Tipoff on the SEC Network is at 7:30 p.m. Central.
Follow Chris DePew on Twitter @TideFansChris
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