Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Men’s basketball comes up short against Clemson in first annual ACC/SEC Challenge

CW / Elijah McWhorter
Alabama forward Jarin Stevenson (#15) prepares to take a shot against Clemson.

On a chilly Tuesday night in Tuscaloosa, the Alabama faithful, with heads still held high from an Iron Bowl victory, turned out to watch Alabama and Clemson face off in the first annual SEC/ACC Challenge.  

Unlike in the Iron Bowl, however, the Tigers came out on top, defeating Alabama with a final score of 85-77, snapping the Crimson Tide’s 19-game winning streak at home.  

Alabama’s defense was the biggest question mark coming into this contest, but it was the offense that struggled mightily in the first half.  

Alabama began the game shooting 0-9 from beyond the arc. It took 10 attempts for the Crimson Tide to finally make a basket from downtown, with forward Sam Walters breaking the ice.  

Alabama’s defense, while not perfect, looked decent in the first half, forcing tough shots and a couple of turnovers. The Crimson Tide is having a serious problem performing well on both ends of the floor simultaneously, however. 

Alabama did have an offensive surge late in the first half, though, going on an 8-0 tear that electrified Coleman Coliseum. The run was capped off by a spectacular sequence of passes leading to a 3-pointer from guard Mark Sears.  

It was a slow ending to the first half, though, as both teams went ice-cold, with Alabama and Clemson shooting 1-9 and 3-11, respectively, going into the break.  

Guards Sears and Aaron Estrada shared the workload offensively in the first half, both putting up 9 points. 

After its worst offensive half of the season so far, the Crimson Tide picked things up to start the second half, shooting 5-7 from downtown.  

The defense also had a brief showing of blue-collar basketball, forcing turnovers and missed shots, which seemed to breathe life into Coleman Coliseum.  

But just as quickly as life was breathed into the arena, it was sucked out. The Tigers went on a 13-0 run where they shot over 70% from downtown.  

Guard Joseph Girard III’s lethal shooting led this run for Clemson. He went 4-6 from 3 in the second half, scoring 12 of his 16.  

Alabama was not able to effectively respond to the offensive onslaught, as shots continued to go in for the Tigers and fans began heading for the exits.  

“Our defense is something that we’re really focused on, and we’re going to get that fixed,” Sears said postgame. “No matter how long it takes, we’re going to get that fixed.” 

Alabama’s defense allowed 32 points in the paint, with Clemson center PJ Hall finishing with 21 points along with eight rebounds and four blocks.  

“We don’t have enough defensive pride right now to get stops,” Alabama head coach Nate Oats said postgame. “We know what we’ve got to do. We’ve got to show some pride, I’ve got to do a better job coaching and we have to do a better job as a program getting our team better on defense.” 

Alabama was able to cut the Clemson lead to just 5 with under a minute remaining but ended up having to send the Tigers to the free-throw line, where they put the game on ice.  

While the offense struggled for much of the game, it was a particularly rough night for forward Grant Nelson, who shot just 4-15 from the field and 2-8 from downtown. Nelson did finish with 14 and led the Crimson Tide in rebounding, however, grabbing eight of the 41 total boards for Alabama, which matched Clemson’s total.  

Estrada also had a bit of an off-game, shooting just 6-16 from the field and 2-8 from 3-point range. The Woodbury, New Jersey, native was still able to finish with 16 points and five rebounds. 

Sears led the Crimson Tide in scoring with 23 points along with four rebounds and three assists.  

“No matter how good on offense we are, if we don’t get our defense fixed then we can’t win games,” Sears said. 

Alabama will have five days to make some adjustments before a date with Arkansas State at Coleman Coliseum on Dec. 4. The game will tip off at 7 p.m. CT on SEC Network.  

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