MBB Recap | How old habits led to Alabama’s first SEC loss

Here’s what went wrong.

Alabama men’s basketball struggled on Saturday once again. The team looked completely outmatched against the No.18 Missouri Tigers on the road. 

Until the last six minutes.

Alabama basketball looked completely disinterested in all facets of the game. But after a media timeout, every player on the floor looked lasered into the game. Seniors Herb Jones and John Petty, Jr. were all over the floor on defense. Their quick efforts led to huge transition scores. But in the end it wasn’t enough. The Crimson Tide lost 68-65.

For the majority of the game, Alabama was completely overwhelmed by the size and strength of the Tigers throughout the game. From the tipoff, Missouri had the upper hand in almost every blue-collar category. Blue-collar points are for efforts in the game that are not counted in the stats, like diving for loose balls or running the floor on a fast break. 

“We were down 22 with 13 minutes to go in the game and had multiple opportunities to take the lead in the last minute, minute and a half in the game,” Coach Nate Oats said after the game. “So, I couldn’t have asked for much better effort in the last 13 minutes. I think if we can get that type of effort for 40 minutes, we win the game.” 

Jones had a chance with 11 seconds left to take the lead for Alabama. A quick pass into the paint and a pump fake gave him a good look at a layup. But after a controversial non call on a potential foul, Jones missed the layup and Missouri iced the game with two quick free throws. 

“First SEC loss. Obviously, guys are disappointed. I’m disappointed,” Oats said. “We gave ourselves a chance there at the end to win it. I didn’t think we played like we needed to in the first half. Somehow, we’ve gotta get these guys ready to go a little bit better, better starts to these Saturday morning games. But I give our guys a ton of credit.”

The no-call mattered more than most fans realize. Without that layup, Alabama basketball lost its chance at a perfect SEC season. The team walking off the court looked demoralized. They had given those last six minutes their all, but to no avail. 

“I thought the kid landed on Herb’s back,” Oats said. “I saw it live, I thought it was a foul live. I haven’t seen the replay. I wish we hadn’t put ourselves in a spot where it came down to a whistle or not getting a whistle in the last five seconds.

The team faces seven more tough SEC opponents. Although none of them are ranked, in-conference games are always harder than they look. The recent struggles by this Alabama team gives fans flashbacks to the past four years. 

Although this team has the clear talent advantage in almost every game, players don’t seem motivated when the ball hits the court. It takes a potential blowout loss to get the team fired up. Motivation has been a consistent problem for the Crimson Tide in the past.

For example, on senior night last season in Tuscaloosa. Alabama faced a Vanderbilt team that only won three SEC games all season, but the Commodores managed to come out with a 87-79 win. 

The Crimson Tide saw a slight flash of the same earlier this season against Western Kentucky. In what should have been an easier game on the schedule, Alabama ended up losing closely in Tuscaloosa 73-71. 

The question remains whether or not the Crimson Tide can get out of this dip. The team will play South Carolina on the road Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. on the SEC Network.