By Chris DePew
March 14, 2017
Alabama’s vaunted defense got cut to shreds Tuesday night at Coleman Coliseum as sixth-seeded Richmond shot 53.8 percent from the field to upset the No. 3 Crimson Tide 71-64 in the first round of the NIT.
What did we learn today?: There was next to nothing left in Bama’s tank after an emotional SEC tournament run. The Crimson Tide didn’t look as awful as it did in last year’s one-and-done NIT blowout at Creighton, but it never looked fully prepared against the Spiders either. Richmond started four players under 6-foot-5 and got zero bench points, but instead of wearing down against the bigger, more physical Tide it ran its modified Princeton-style offense to near perfection. The Spiders were an efficient 7-for-18 from 3-point range and only had 12 turnovers while keeping Bama’s big men flummoxed by having to constantly run to the perimeter. It is a hard style to prepare for on two days notice, and Alabama looked clueless on multiple defensive possessions.
What were the biggest concerns?: Braxton Key hit the wall hard at the end of his freshman year. His five rebounds and three assists were nice, but bad shooting and carelessness with the ball once again held his scoring down (seven points) and hurt the team. Counting his 3-for-9 shooting against Richmond, Key finished 17-for-44 from the field over his last five games, and it would have been far worse if not for a 6-for-8 outlier performance against South Carolina. Five more turnovers against the Spiders gave him 101 for the season, versus just 83 assists. That has to improve dramatically if Bama is to break an NCAA tournament drought now up to five seasons and counting.
What was the best part of the game?: Dazon Ingram taking the halftime speech to heart. With only two shots and two points in 10 minutes, Bama’s other freshman was virtually invisible in the first half. But clearly he was told in the locker room that he needed to be much more aggressive and he came out playing like his patented dreadlocks were on fire. Within the first 70 seconds he had a dunk, a layup and an assist on a Corban Collins 3-pointer to give the Tide a 39-36 lead. Ingram finished with 11 points, six assists and no turnovers.
Who was the star?: Collins never made quite as big an impact as anticipated after transferring in from Morehead State, but his last college game was a memorable one. He made five of Alabama’s seven 3-pointers to finish with 19 points.
What’s next?: The highest-rated recruiting class in program history, including Top 25 players Collin Sexton and John Petty, joins as many as eight returning scholarship players (plus Ohio State transfer Daniel Giddens) on the court beginning next November.
Follow Chris DePew on Twitter @TideFansChris
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