No. 18 Alabama falls to No. 20 UConn in PKI semifinals


Courtesy of UA Athletics

Alabama guard Jaden Bradley (0) looks to get to the basket in the Crimson Tide’s 82-67 loss to the UConn Huskies on Nov. 25 at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Portland, Ore.

Mathey Gibson, Staff Reporter

In the city of roses, the Alabama Crimson Tide wilted at the hand of self-inflicted errors. 

On Friday night, No. 18 Alabama fell to the No. 20 University of Connecticut Huskies 82-67 behind a disastrous performance on offense — turning the ball over 21 times. 

It was a defensive battle early, with neither team being able to muster a semblance of continuity on offense throughout the first couple minutes of the game.  

On both ends of the floor, it was the Huskies (7-0) that first set the tone — playing with a level of physicality that left the Crimson Tide (5-1) shell-shocked, falling into a 33-18 hole at one point. 

Behind 10 first-half points from Brandon Miller, Alabama battled back to close the half — cutting UConn’s lead to five at the break, 35-30. 

The Crimson Tide managed to hang around early, forcing multiple ties throughout the second half — stifling the Huskies defensively. 

Leading the charge was freshman standout Noah Clowney, who tallied a block and two steals while flaunting his athleticism and IQ. 

At the seven-minute mark, things began to fall apart in a hurry. 

For UConn, it was Adama Sanogo that couldn’t be contained — scoring 15 second half points, dominating with his imposing 6-foot-9 frame and toughness. The Bamako, Mali, native finished with 25 points and 4 rebounds. 

With seemingly every Alabama mistake, the Huskies were able to capitalize — scoring 23 points off of Crimson Tide turnovers, forcing Nate Oats’ squad to play on their heels at every moment.  

In the end, it was one-too-many mistakes for Alabama, who couldn’t get things going on the other end. 

“I don’t think we lost because we didn’t play hard enough,” Oats said. “They did a better job coaching their guys. They had a better scheme, and they did a better job of executing it.”  

For his standards, it was a rough night for the freshman-sensation Miller, who finished with 18 points on 5-for-15 shooting, turning the ball over twice and getting rejected by the UConn defense on number of occasions. 

“They took Brandon out of it, they didn’t let him get any easy catches,” Oats said. “We needed some stops, and we couldn’t get them. We could’ve broken the thing open. We’ve got a lot of stuff we have to get better at.” 

On the positive side, freshman guard Jaden Bradley found success within the offense — scoring 12 points on 3-for-4 shooting and nailing 6-of-8 shots at the stripe. 

The Crimson Tide once again controlled the rebounding margin, grabbing 35 boards to the Huskies’ 32.  

“We’re going to take some losses,” Oats said. “We’ll need to learn from them. We’ve got to stay together and continue to work to get better.”  

How will a young team respond after getting punched in the mouth? We’ll find out quickly, as the Crimson Tide will now turn their attention towards the No. 1 University of North Carolina in the loser’s bracket. 

Tipoff for the third-place game of the Phil Knight Invitational for No. 18 Alabama and No. 1 North Carolina is set for Sunday, Nov. 27, at 2:30 p.m. CT on ESPN. 

Questions or comments? Email Austin Hannon (Sports Editor) at [email protected]