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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

No. 16 Alabama men’s basketball drops second straight game as offensive struggles continue against Florida

Courtesy of UA Athletics
Alabama guard Mark Sears (1) on offense against Florida at Exactech Arena in Gainesville, FL on Tuesday, Mar 5, 2024.

In a sort of roller coaster season of Alabama men’s basketball, the Crimson Tide’s ability to bounce back after a loss has been a sure bet almost all season.  

On Tuesday night, however, it was a losing bet. Alabama dropped its second straight conference game in a 105-87 loss to the Florida Gators. This was the first time Alabama has lost back-to-back games in the SEC since March 2022.  

This loss was produced almost the same way as Alabama’s loss to No. 4 Tennessee last weekend, with Alabama’s offense looking like a shell of the nation-leading offense it had been all season.  

Most notably, the Crimson Tide, which ranks second in the country in made 3-pointers per game, did not make a shot from long range until one minute and 34 seconds into the first half. Alabama went 0-9 before guard Rylan Griffen snapped the cold streak.  

“You have to give Florida a lot of credit on the defensive end. They were really good,” Alabama head coach Nate Oats said. “They were very physical with us and made it difficult to get our guards going early in the game.” 

Additionally, guard Mark Sears, who leads the SEC in scoring with 20.7 points per game, was a nonfactor in the first half. Sears scored just 4 of Alabama’s 35 first-half points. 

At the half, Florida held a 44-35 lead, and no player wearing crimson had reached double figures. Forward Grant Nelson led the Crimson Tide at the break with 8 points.  

Nelson finished with 12 points, but really struggled with mental errors throughout the contest. He fouled out for the second straight game and accounted for five of Alabama’s 13 turnovers. 

The Crimson Tide finished with 13 total turnovers, compared with Florida’s nine. The Gators capitalized on these mistakes, scoring 17 points off turnovers.  

Florida would also capitalize off Alabama’s 31 personal fouls, the most the Crimson Tide has committed since recording 33 at Auburn in February. This allowed the Gators to score 40 points from the free-throw line on 46 attempts, matching Auburn’s made attempts back in February.  

While Alabama was self-defeating in many ways, Florida came to play. 

The Gators led in just about every defensive stat and did not allow the Crimson Tide to establish any kind of rhythm from beyond the arc. 

Alabama, which averages 11.5 made 3s per game, finished with a 5-21 shooting mark from long range.  

These offensive struggles, according to Oats, hindered the Crimson Tide’s ability to lock in on defense. 

“I just felt like their physicality and their defensive intensity, paired with our offensive struggles, led to us not playing like we needed to on the defensive end,” Oats said.  

Despite the lack of 3-point shooting, Sears exploded in the second half, scoring 29 of his 33 points after halftime. The rest of the team combined for 23 points in the half.  

This performance is just another in the catalog that Sears has put together this season. While Sears’ offensive ability has seemingly gone unrecognized for much of the season, he was named on Monday as one of five finalists for the Bob Cousy Award, which recognizes the top point guard in college basketball. 

With this loss, Alabama is out of the race for sole possession of the SEC regular-season title, as South Carolina and Tennessee will look to battle it out for the top seed entering next week’s tournament in Nashville. At best, the Crimson Tide could end up in a three-way tie for the title with the two teams.  

“We have to bounce back and be ready to go on Saturday to see how high of a seed we can get going into Nashville,” Oats said.  

Next, Alabama will look for a return to form offensively when it hosts the Arkansas Razorbacks at home in its final regular-season game on Saturday. The game will be broadcast on ESPN at 11 a.m. CT.  

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