Minnesota 89, Alabama 84: Tide falls just short in bizzare game

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By Chris DePew
.com Staff
Nov. 25, 2017

Through a strange series of events, No. 25 Alabama played the final 10:41 with just three players, yet rallied to within one possession of tying No. 14 Minnesota before falling 89-84 in the final game of the Barclays Center Classic in Brooklyn.

What did we learn today?: What Rule 3, Article 2 of the NCAA rulebook is all about. In a nutshell, it allows shorthanded teams to continue playing when no one else is available, and it was the unlikely catalyst for some inspired basketball.

The trouble began with 13:39 to play in an already-chippy game. Bama had cut an 18-point deficit down to 57-50 when an altercation flared on the court and it looked for a second like punches might be thrown. None were, but Alabama’s bench all ran out onto the court, resulting in automatic ejections. That meant there were no replacements available for Dazon Ingram when he fouled out at the 11:37 mark. And a bad situation turned worse less than a minute later when John Petty twisted his ankle and couldn’t continue, giving the undefeated Golden Gophers a two-man advantage against the unlikely trio of Collin Sexton, Riley Norris and Galin Smith.

What were the biggest concerns?: The Crimson Tide dug itself a too-deep hole in the game’s opening minutes as Minnesota built a double-digit lead. Instead of cutting without the ball and making extra passes, too many were content to drive the lane by themselves and fruitlessly try to heave the ball over Gopher defenders. Bama shot just 11-for-28 from the floor in the first and only made one 3-pointer. But nothing happened Saturday that can’t be cleaned up assuming Petty recovers quickly from his ankle injury.

What was the best part of the game?: Instead of expanding on a 13-point lead once Petty left, Minnesota found itself holding on for dear life as Bama packed the lane on defense and turned Sexton loose on offense to make as many individual plays as he could. The freshman point guard ended up with 40 points, while Riley added 13 and the lightly used Smith scored 10. Alabama outscored the Gophers 30-22 while playing 3-on-5.

Who was the star?: Sexton would have locked this up even if he never did anything but score, but he added six rebounds and five assists while shooting better than 50 percent from the floor and from 3-point range, not to mention going 12-for-16 at the free throw line.

What’s next?: Alabama wraps up its November schedule on Wednesday at 7 p.m. against Louisiana Tech in a game that will be streamed online by SEC Network-Plus.

Follow Chris DePew on Twitter @TideFansChris

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