Georgia State 83, Alabama 80: Tide blows 22 point lead in brutal loss

Alabama Basketball Coach Avery Johnson. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports
Photo Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

By Chris DePew Staff
Dec. 4, 2018

After dominating the first half, Alabama fell apart over the final 20 minutes, blowing a 22-point lead as Georgia State hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer for an 83-80 upset at Coleman Coliseum.

What did we learn today?: Unassisted field goals can be fools gold. The Crimson Tide looked almost flawless in the first half, scoring 52 points and outrebounding the Panthers 23-12. But a deeper look at the box score revealed that Bama had just seven assists on its 19 made baskets in the first half. For a team shooting just 44 percent from the field on the year, knocking down that many shots without good passes to set them up is unsustainable. Sure enough, Georgia State came out of its defensive coma after halftime and the Tide went from making nearly 60 percent of its shots to less than 30 percent, thanks in no small part to a nearly nine-minute field goal drought. Alabama ended the game with 10 assists, almost four below its average, and no player had more than two.

What were the biggest concerns?: Clearly Bama lost focus after building a giant lead, and Avery Johnson wasn’t able to stop the bleeding. Ten different players saw time with the return of Riley Norris for his first game of the season and many of the groupings on the floor seemed as jumbled as one might expect during an exhibition tuneup. Instead of tightening the rotation as the Panthers crept back into the game, Johnson kept tinkering with the lineup, and never did adjust his defense to cut off Georgia State’s dribble drives. With just four games left until SEC play, this team seems no closer to knowing what its identity is or should be.

Tevin Mack got his first start and scored a dozen points, but only got to play 19 minutes. Conversely John Petty and Herbert Jones might as well have been in witness protection, combining for just seven points. Jones in particular had probably the worst game of his career, going 0-for-6 from the floor and 1-for-6 at the line. A short-term benching wouldn’t be the most shocking news of the season, but if he doesn’t improve his game, the Crimson Tide is going nowhere this season.

What was the best part of the game?: The undersized Panthers were practically built for Donta Hall to generate a double-double, but in a season where nothing seems guaranteed from game to game, it was still reassuring to see him come through. Hall had 11 points despite only four field goal attempts because he was surprisingly the team’s rock at the foul line. Bama shot just 58 percent from the line as a team, but Hall was 5-for-6. Add in 11 rebounds and three blocks and it was a vintage night for the senior from Luverne.

Who was the star?: Dazon Ingram continues to work wonders off the bench. Ingram was 5-for-6 from the floor, including a pair of 3-pointers, and finished with 17 points and eight rebounds while playing 28 minutes. He isn’t going to supplant Kira Lewis (who scored a team-high 19 despite some questionable shot selection) in the starting five, but the two work well together on the floor and Ingram could well bump Jones or Petty to a reserve role.

What’s next?: If it wants to avoid a three-game losing streak, the Crimson Tide has to find a way to beat Arizona in the season’s most anticipated non-conference game. Tipoff from Tuscaloosa is Sunday at noon Central on ESPN.

Follow Chris DePew on Twitter @TideFansChris

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