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

Alabama falls to No. 4 Purdue in fight to the finish 

Courtesy of UA Athletics
Alabama forward Grant Nelson (2) on offense against Purdue at Coca-Cola Coliseum in Toronto, Canada on Saturday, Dec 9, 2023.

After a hard-fought battle all the way to the end, Alabama came up short Saturday against the No. 4 Purdue Boilermakers with a final score of 92-86.  

Even though the game was played in Toronto, it was a hostile environment for the Crimson Tide. Because Purdue center Zach Edey hails from the city, many of his friends, family and fans were in attendance. 

Despite the overwhelming presence of the Purdue faithful, Alabama came out with a confidence and energy that had yet to be seen this season. 

The Crimson Tide attacked with an 8-0 run to start the contest, hitting four straight 3s. Alabama ended up shooting 13-24 from downtown in the first half.  

While this was some of the best shooting the Crimson Tide has shown all season, the real story of the first half was the physicality shown by Alabama. 

The Crimson Tide crashed the glass on both ends and ferociously fought for loose balls, leading to multiple opportunities on the offensive end.  

Alabama head coach Nate Oats’ “blue-collar basketball” mentality was on full display in the half, as bodies hit the floor almost every possession. Things even got a bit heated at one point in the first half. After forward Nick Pringle committed a hard foul on Edey, the two had some choice words for each other. 

Fouling was a major problem for Alabama in the first half. The Crimson Tide committed 14 fouls in the half, leading to 14 points from the free-throw line for the Boilermakers.  

Despite sending multiple defenders every time he touched the ball, Alabama still allowed Edey to put up 18 points in the first half. The 2023 Naismith Player of the Year drew multiple fouls and scored 6 of his first-half points from the line.  

Guard Mark Sears had another productive offensive half, tallying 15 points with 12 coming from beyond the arc.  

Purdue picked up some momentum on several occasions but was unable to gain a lead over the Crimson Tide in the first half. At the break, Alabama had a narrow 49-47 lead.  

The Crimson Tide opened the second half in a very similar fashion to the first, this time going on a 6-0 run with Sears and forward Grant Nelson attacking the basket out of the gate.  

Fouling remained a problem for the Alabama defense in the second half, however. The Crimson Tide committed three fouls in a little over a minute to start the half.  

The disparity in foul calls was apparent from the tip in this game. At one point in the second half, Alabama had 20 total foul calls compared with Purdue’s eight. This obviously caused frustration on the Alabama bench, resulting in a technical foul call on Oats. 

“My tech cost us two,” Oats said postgame. “I can’t get it [a technical foul] in a game like this. That’s on me.”  

Following the technical foul call, Alabama couldn’t seem to hit a shot. The Crimson Tide shot just 1-8 from the field in the possessions after the call. This led to a 17-3 Boilermaker run as Purdue finally claimed the lead from Alabama. 

Purdue guard Braden Smith stepped up offensively, scoring 19 of his 27 points in the half, shooting 3-6 from beyond the arc.  

Edey continued fighting to the rim and drawing contact in the second half, despite the aggressive defense from the Crimson Tide. He finished with 35 points, going 11-11 from the charity stripe.  

“He’s a tough cover,” Oats said. “We didn’t do a terrible job on him and he had 35 points. He makes things difficult.”  

After the devastating run, it looked as if Purdue might run away with the game, but the Crimson Tide still had some fight to give. 

Sears led the offensive charge late in the second half and even willed the team to a 1-point lead with under five minutes remaining.  

Alabama continued to hang around all the way to the end, but a few late-game mistakes and fouls put the final nail in the coffin for the Crimson Tide as the Boilermakers iced the game from the free-throw line.  

Sears had his best game of the season, finishing with 35 points, 2 points shy of his career high of 37. 

“We need great games out of him every game and he’s showing he’s capable of it,” Oats said. 

While the Crimson Tide wasn’t able to get it done in the end, this game showed that Alabama basketball can compete with any team in the country, which should serve as motivation for the team heading into its next matchup, with the No. 10 Creighton Bluejays. 

“I thought our kids battled,” Oats said. “Purdue is arguably the best team in the country and our kids went toe to toe with them for 40 minutes. We’ve just got to figure out a way to get some wins in those big games.”  

Alabama will tip off against the Bluejays on Dec. 16 in Omaha at 7 p.m. The game will be broadcast on Fox. 

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